Shana Cleveland – Night of the Worm Moon (Hardly Art)
LP/ CD/ digital/ cassette
Singer/guitarist with La Luz, this solo record sees the California polymath expanding her sonic palette, incorporating psychedelic folk sounds with out-there subject matter and inspiration including Afrofuturism and alternate dimensions.
Cool baby, says Ged Babey.
La Luz are one of the most perfect bands around. Quite possibly the coolest band on the planet. Period.
They have style and depth. Melody and mystery. Magic and duende.
Hardly Art is a great label too -like a modern US 4AD – all quality, no trash.
I had great expectations of this solo album from the ‘girl with the faraway eyes’…
I love this bit in the PR… A serene album that flows like a warm current while simultaneously wrestling open a portal to another dimension.
This is a psychedelic chill-out album perhaps…. but it’s not quite as easy-listening as that may indicate.
At worst, it’s rough sketches for possible future La Luz portraits.
At best it has the sultriness of Mazzy Star and the innocence of Young Marble Giants in a psych-folk style, with a Lynchian American Gothic undertone and an air of beautiful sadness.
Appropriately enough, Night of the Worm Moon was recorded during a rare cosmic occurrence: 2017’s solar eclipse. “We took a break from recording during [the] totality and looked at the sun’s image through a piece of cardboard projecting onto a garbage can,” Cleveland says. “When we came back inside the studio was covered in dozens of tiny crescent suns, refracted from a mirrored disco ball that [engineer Johnny Goss] had hanging in a window.”
Abetting Cleveland during the recording process was a familiar gallery of co-conspirators: multi-instrumentalist Will Sprott of Shannon & the Clams, original La Luz bassist Abbey Blackwell, Goss, pedal steel player Olie Eshelman, and Kristian Garrard, who drummed on Cleveland’s previous solo effort (with then-backing band The Sandcastles), 2015’s Oh Man, Cover the Ground.
…and that is a great ‘Don’t Do Drugs Kids, your face will melt!’ video to be sure.
Night of the Worm Moon is a great listen and much more than a handy stop-gap between La Luz albums. With her drawings, short-stories and music, Cleveland is establishing herself as one Americas most interesting and distinctive voices.
All words Ged Babey except press release sections which are italicised.