Five of my favourite tracks added to the Back Before Dark: New Music playlist in the last week as well as the album of the week from Chastity Belt. Pictured: Alvvays
Alvvays – In Undertow
Alvvays announced their return this week with their second album Antisocialites out on September 8th. The lead single, ‘In Undertow’, is a new example of the irresistibly catchy indie-pop that made their debut one of my favourite albums of 2014.
Bruno Major – Places We Won’t Walk
A slow and soothing musical journey from Bruno Major. He offers the following instructions with the song, “listen as you stare listlessly at the colourless sky from a raindrop speckled train window.” Sounds good to me!
RAY BLK – Doing Me
An irresistibly upbeat track from the London R’n’B singer RAY BLK. It’s a bouncy, slightly 90s-esque song all about being yourself and ignoring what the haters think. Solid advice.
Bonobo & Innov Gnawa – Bambro Koyo Ganda (Analog Version)
‘Bambro Koyo Ganda’ (I have also heard it called “that deadly dance song with the fellas singing in Indian or something”) was my clear favourite from Bonobo‘s last album. The recently released single is backed with an alternative version which grooves and builds into an otherworldly cacophony. Headphones are recommended for this one.
Waxahatchee – Never Been Wrong
Pumped-up, perfectly crafted pop-rock from Alabama’s Waxahatchee. As previously suggested by ‘Silver’, her upcoming album Out in the Storm is shaping up to be something special.
Album of the Week
Ever since I move home from college, I’ve basically just been sitting in my room reading, staring at the rain and losing all interest in doing anything else. Since I spent the last nine months studying a subject I hate in a college I can’t stand, I figured I’d chill out for a while before finding a horrible job to keep me busy until college restarts. The one upside is that there’s plenty of new music to drown out my tinnitus! Since the whole situation is quite gloomy and self-indulgent, it’s no surprise that Chastity Belt’s latest release struck a chord with me.
I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone is a more introspective and downbeat affair than the band’s previous albums. While their previous two albums featured the odd jingly pop anthem, Chastity Belt’s latest album consists entirely of morose self-reflection. The execution of these tracks is sharper than ever, perfectly treading a fine line between dream-pop, indie and grunge.
The key to this balance lies in the deceptively complex songwriting. To the casual listener, the songs of I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone might do little to stand out from the crowd but on closer listening, there are rich blends of shoegaze, garage rock and college rock to be heard. The progressions are clever and organic, giving the impression that post-production was kept to a minimum to keep the album’s raw aesthetic.
While the guitar work is the star of the show for me, Julia Shapiro does a stellar job on the vocals. Her delivery is as attitude-filled as ever which is quite unusual given the vulnerability of the lyrics. Her performance is a true testament to the Pacific Northwestern style of alternative rock – sounding tough while baring your soul to the listener.
I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone is Chastity Belt’s strongest album yet – a formidable collection of lonely rainy day tracks. They have previously embodied the best bits of the Pacific Northwest’s music scene but, this time around, they have contributed an important new chapter to it.