Archive for the ‘Chastity Belt’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: CHASTITY BELT-I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone (2017).

Chastity Belt began as a kind of funny punk band with a message.

They have grown more sophisticated with each release.  And the humor has drifted away (except in their hilarious visuals), replaced by a kind of low-key, nonchalant attitude.

And with this album Chastity Belt exposes an unexpected vulnerability and a relatability.  Sure I miss songs like “Nip Slip,” but their song writing and playing has developed so much that I really love what they present now.

“Different Now” opens this third album with a very pretty lead guitar line–nothing too complex, but quite lovely.  And when Julia Shapiro starts singing, other things seem different now, too.  Her voice is gentle and her lyrics are even more thoughtful.  I love the way the two guitars intertwine later in the song and the main vocal melody of the song is really fun.

Lyrically the band still speaks about self empowerment:

You’ll find in time
All the answers that you seek
Have been sitting there just waiting to be seen
Take away your pride and take away your grief
And you’ll finally be right where you need to be

“This Time of Night” rocks a bit harder in the rhythm guitar but has a gentle echoing middle section.

Gretchen Grimm’s song “Stuck” is another highlight–a slow song that builds nicely with a catchy chorus and cool distorted guitar deep in the mix.  “Complain” has a catchy wooziness that sounds great too.  And they haven’t given up on feminism either:

I’ve had a drink and ate some stuff / Now I’m already bored / A couple of bros said some shit I’m choosing to ignore

Themes of being bored at parties abound in Chastity Belt songs.

“What the Hell” slows things down with an acoustic guitar as the main rhythm.  I love this lyric: “If I look at my phone again, I’ll just wanna die / Aside from that, I feel all right”

Its amusing to me that “Something Else also reflects on that phone: “But I got up on my own / And I looked at my phone / We’re all talking about nothing / I wanna do something cool / And I wanna get paid / And wake up feeling great every day”

“Used to Spend” starts slow and kind of dark and then tuns into a gauzy distorted middle section.

I love “5am” for the way the opening sounds like a long-lost Sonic Youth song–unexpected chords and intertwining guitars.  Even the delivery is not unlike Kim Gordon.  This song also has outro that is almost as long as the rest of the song.  It features some repeated guitars and some wailing feedback-filled soloing (more Sonic Youth again).   It’s a fantastic song.  And is a perfect album ender.

There are three bonus tracks.  Bonus tracks are kind of a mixed blessing in that they’re nice to have but they kind of ruin the natural arc of the record.  All three of them are kind of quiet and dreamy.  But it’s also a good opportunity for other members of the band to sing:

“Don’t Worry” is sung by Gretchen (when I saw them live she and Julia switched places for this song).  Lydia sings “Bender.”   And then Julia ends the disc with “I’m Fine.”  These are nice songs to add on, but do feel a bit more like bonus songs–or like songs from a gentler album.

I’m very curious to hear where the band goes next, as their skills improve and their feminism deepens.

Oh, and they are really fun live.

[READ: March 20, 2016] “1=1”

How strange that Anne Carson had fiction published in Harper’s and the New Yorker at the same time.

And they were both elliptical and hard to parse.

The story begins “She visits others. Before they’re up, dawn, she walks to the lake, listening to Bach, the first clavichord exercise, which she plans to have played at her funeral someday, has had this plan since she first heard the music and, thinking of it, she weeps lightly.”  That’s a sentence boyo.

So the first two paragraphs are about her swimming, the challenges of it, the intensity of it and apparently how the time in the water allows her to get into her own head.

Then her visit ends. (more…)

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Time to Go Home, the band’s second album is quite a large departure from the rawness of No Regerts.

It polishes some of the harshness of the guitar sound with lots of echo.  It’s more jangly.  The lyrics are still powerfully feminist but there’s no more Giant Vaginas–it’s more introspective.

“Drone” opens with cool guitars and a lovely melody–the guitars feel more significant.  And, more importantly, the bass and drums are more prominent, making the disc feel like a full band.

Lyrically the bridge offers a nice twist on ones: “He was just another man, tryn’a teach me something.”

And yet for all of the improvements, the song is kind of bland.  In part because all of those new sounds (which are great) kind of meld together a bit too much.  The same is true for the next two songs as well.  Although again the addition of lovely backing vocals on “Trapped” are also welcome.  The songs just aren’t that dynamic.

“Why Try” is a punky blast though, and returns to a blunt nihilism: Why try / Why do I try? / Why? / Alone and alive / Why can’t I escape my mind.  There’s some nice edgy jolts that keep the song interesting.

There’s also the two minute punk blast of “The Thing.”  “No one trusts anyone /
Everyone’s infected.”  It’s got fast guitars and death screams at the end.

Its with “Cool Slut” that the album seems to wake up a bit.  The guitar sound of the first album comes back with some of the sophistication of the newer songs.  Th guitar is clean and sharp, and the vocals are much louder and more direct.  It’s a great song and is something of Chastity Belt classic.  The video is great too (and not at all slutty, it’s more of a Friends opening credit spoof.

There are two songs on the record that have a really long outro.  “On the Floor” is 6 minutes long, but the song itself s really only about 3.  The final 3 minutes are a jam, but it’s kind of a bland jam, just repeating the same pretty guitar melody for three minutes.  “Joke” on the other hand, ends with a nearly 3 minute outro but it’s really successful.  There’s a guitar solo that meanders (it’s not great but it’s interesting) and half way through the end jam, the rhythm guitar gets louder and louder which keeps the whole thing fresh and interesting.  The song itself is a huge highlight of the disc, with a great melody and a really catchy chorus.  I love the way it slowly builds, first with drums, then a first guitar and then a second guitar.  It’s not often that one of the best songs is number 7 on the disc, but this song is outstanding (nad was great live).

Indeed, the last four songs are really terrific.

“Lydia” is sung by guitarist Lydia Lund.  Her voice is softer and the guitars are very pretty.  It sounds pretty different from the other songs, but it still retains that Chastity Belt feel.

“IDC” is a fun bratty song:

Is it cool not to care / I got drunk out of boredom / I did not want to be there /
I don’t care

Its a bit too long even at just 3 minutes with the endless repetitions of the title, but I like the way the end has the tape slow down all distorted.

The final song is the great “Time to Go Home.”  It builds slowly with slow chords and Julia’s laconic delivery.  But for the chorus, there’s a terrific pick up in speed and a great haunting backing vocal “oooh.”  The song is short but builds nicely to a crashing album end.

Between the two albums there’s a terrific diversity of materials.

[READ: March 25, 2016] “Day of Judgment”

I love Simon Rich.  He cracks me up every time.

The Messiah comes down to Earth in the middle of Manhattan.  He tells the world that everyone is saved and their pain is ending.

And then he gets ready to take questions.  He points to Chris Matthews and tell him to ask a question.  And the same with Anderson Cooper.  And then he looks around and points and says “You have a question, Al Roker?”  And there’s a hushed silence over the crowd, because he was pointing to Al Sharpton. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 22, 2017] Chastity Belt

 I first heard of Chastity Belt from All Songs Considered.  They’d played their really great song, “Black Sail.”  And they also brought attention to their amusing/appalling band photo (see below).  The album No Regerts [sic] had some fun/funny punky feminist songs.  Since then the band has released two albums (and their new one is really really good) and changed their band promo photo style (see below also).  They’re still writing feminist songs but they’re slightly less abrasive (and not called things like “Giant Vagina” or “Nip Slip”).

In fact, despite their name and that particular photo below, their music is really chill.  Julia Shapiro plays nicely jangly almost shoegazy guitar while Lydia Lund plays some simple but really catchy guitar lines that emphasize or counterpoint the melody.  Annie Truscott keeps everything grounded with her bass and Gretchen Grimm plays some really interesting drum parts.  It was particularly notable live since the drums were louder, that Gretchen wasn’t just playing snare/bass, but was playing complex patterns on her toms.  It really made for a cool sound.

I also got a kick out of Shapiro handing out the setlist to everyone on what looked like little tiny pieces of paper (wonder if they were handwritten). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 22, 2017] Sneaks

Sneaks was second on the bill opening for Chastity Belt.

I ended my post about Joy Again by coming out of the bathroom.  Well, while I was on line, I kinda thought that Sneaks was standing behind me.  But I’d only watched one video from her so I wasn’t sure and didn’t want to be presumptuous.  Well, I was right, because the woman wearing the Space Jam T-shirt climbed up on stage with the same shirt tied in a knot and, now, glitter all over her face.

I hadn’t heard Sneaks, so I checked out her bandcamp.  Sneaks is basically a one-woman show.  She plays bass and sings/raps/freestyles over her punky bass and a drum machine.  She has a lo-fi recording out and a more polished disc.  I would have loved both of these records when I was in college–the DIY punk attitude is pretty great.  But I didn’t love either one all that much the other day.

But she was great live. (more…)

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xkcdSOUNDTRACK: CHASTITY BELT-No Regerts (2013).

regertsChastity Belt’s debut full length returns to the lineup of the first EP: Julia Shapiro (guitar, vocals), Lydia Lund (guitar), Annie Truscott (bass), and Gretchen Grimm (drums).  But it retains some of the more full sound of the second EP.  It’s a really interesting album with a lot of diverse styles that are all held together by Shaprio’s voice.

I love the complexity of “Black Sail” which has some jangling guitar and an interesting lead riff at the same time–and which exudes a more psychedelic feel.  “Seattle Party” is up next and between the two songs, they clock in at 8 and a half minutes, which is funny since the next four songs total less than that.

“James Dean” (re-recorded from that first EP) sounds better here–you can make out the lyrics better and it’s less staticky.  It really highlights their great short song writing skills.  “Healthy Punk” has a quick sound, with an almost ska-like rhythm.  “Nip Slip” is a funny song about wanting some chips and dip (with appropriate sound effects–the whispered chorus is really quite funny too).  “Full” is a rather spare song that changes things up a bit.

“Happiness” is a slow song that I don’t love, but it’s followed by the awesome “Giant (Vagina)” which takes PJ Harvey’s “Sheela na Gig” to an even more unexpected place–it’s funny and funnier.  “Pussy Weed Beer” is about well, pussy weed and beer–a fun song for one and all.  “Evil” ends the disc with a bright happy guitar sound–belying the “evilness” of the narrator.

Not every song is great, but there’s plenty to like about this weird album.  And the new single from their soon to be released album sounds even better.

[READ: February 10, 2015] xkcd volume 0

After reading Monroe’s What If? [which, in a cool, utterly intentional time bending way will be posted two days from now], I saw that he had a previous book called xkcd.  This is also the name of his website. I had passing familiarity with xkcd, but didn’t know all that much about it.  I’ve mostly been sent links to it rather than actively going there.  And it turns out it’s not that friendly of a site anyhow.  But there is a lot of funny to be had there.

xkcd is primarily a bunch of stick figure characters getting involved in a few kinds of situations: romantic (or unromantic), mathematical and sci-fiction/sci-reality issues.  Or as he sums it up:

Warning: this comic occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors).

It helps to know that Munroe used to work for NASA (although not as like an astronaut or anything), and that he has a very scientific/mathematical brain.  So much so that a liberal arts major such as myself found many many of these comics to be waaaaay over my head.  Of course, he also has cartoons about Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer, so we can’t all be smug bastards, can we?

I laughed a lot at this book, and of course I scratched my head in confusion a lot too, but that’s okay, the ratio of humor to huh was high (there’s some basic math, right?). (more…)

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chew8SOUNDTRACK: CHASTITY BELT-“Dude” (2012) and “Seattle Party” (2013).

chasdudeThe Dude EP is 3 songs recorded after the first EP and with some dudes in the rhythm section.  On this record: Julia Shapiro, Lydia Lund, Peter Richards, Andrew Hall.

The record sounds a bit less trebly, which I like.  And there are loud backing vocals which is interesting (especially on “Pony Tail”: “cut it off cut it off” and “Alines” : “put your tentacles inside me.”

You’ve got a long pony tail and you look like my mom (another verse: you look like Steven Segall and the great rhyme: you look like Thomas Jefferson/Jennifer Aniston).  “Aliens” has a fun riff and an interesting guitar sound.  “Cadaver” sounds really full, with Shaprio’s voice fitting right in to the more bass driven sound.

chas seattle“Seattle Party” is a single from their debut full length No Regerts, which I’m only including here to show the album cover.  It’s something of a maturation (using the term loosely) musically–with a slow, unshouted chorus, although I don’t think it’s the most likely single on the album.

[READ: January 25, 2015] Chew: Volume Eight

Book Eight of the series (the last one I have until book nine comes out later this year) reminds us that even when people die in fiction they can still come back–especially with a supernatural story like this.  Well, come back is not the right phrase.  Show up again is more suited. Because in this book Tony Chu is able to imbibe a (revolting) concoction and speak to a dearly departed deceased person.

But before we even get to that we see how it was possible.

We also meet Tony and Toni’s baby sister Sage.  Sage also has food related “gifts” but she hates hers.  Sage is Cipropanthropatic–she can see the memories of anyone who is sitting near her if they are eating the same thing–so she goes to great lengths to try to avoid eating what others may also be eating.  It turns out that Sage has just discovered that the person eating next to her is a murderer and also the head of a crime family.

Chapter two introduces us to Ken Keebler, the eroscibopctaros, who can take pictures of food which arouse sexual desires in the viewer.  This all ties in with people in jail reading Food Luv magazine (ha).  Currently in that same jail is Mason and that’s when we realize that someone whom we thought was on Tony’s side is actually working with Mason.   And their escape plan involves Ray Jack Montero–the man behind the ban on chickens

In chapter four, Tony’s daughter Olive–an even more powerful Cibopath than her father helps to get on the case.

In chapter five we get to see the fascinating thing that Tony eats.  It has psychotropic powers as well which makes this whole chapter trippy and hilarious.  When Tony sprouts rabbit ears, that’s just the beginning.  And when the final page shows Olive screaming “Holy Shit…cool” you know something big is coming for book nine.

I can’t wait

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chew7SOUNDTRACK: CHASTITY BELT-Fuck Chastity Belt (2012).

chasThis is the worst music you will ever hear.
Chastity Belt is the worst band to ever exist.

So says the Chastity Belt band camp site for this EP.  Which also states that: The album was produced by Peter Richards. Peter Richards is deaf in one ear.
The cover photo was taken by William Newman-Wise. William Newman-Wise is blind in one eye.

Chastity Belt are not the worst band I have ever heard, not by a long shot.  But they sure do love to provoke, like their band photo (see below).  And the fact that is you try to look them up online, you will find many many images that you don’t want to see (not their band photo).

This four song EP is pretty representative off their full length album–intertwining guitars, catchy (if not vulgar) choruses, and a lead singer’s voice that soars above the music (and reminds me a bit of Grace Slick, although not exactly).  The band comes from Walla Walla Washington.  That and the cover photo reminds one of the Pacific Northwest riot grrrl scene, and there is so me of that slightly abrasive and yet still catchy feel to their music.

The biggest difference seems to be that although their lyrics are feminist and take-no-shit, there is still some humor in the lyrics too.  Not that the original riot grrrl scenes wasn’t funny, but it was much more intense, and unlike to include lines like: “God damn, that boy is hot damn, he makes me so stupid crazy and drunk.”

Of the four songs, I like them all, but the second, Dodge Ram is the least exciting for me, although I do like the “lead” guitar line that runs through the track (perhaps 4 minutes is too long for the song?).  “God Damn” is a great lead off track a simple guitar riff played slowly with an air of sloppiness that may be more of the recording sound (which is a bit staticky).  The segue into chorus really pretty.

On a far more serious tone is “A Bloody Spiral of Unyielding Fury” which is not a super fast belligerent death metal song, in fact it starts with a rather sweet high-pitched guitar melody.  But then lyrically, the chorus of “he wants me dead but I don’t want to die” informs the rather scary song about a guy with a knife (yet always with that rather happy guitar riff).

The one thing I don’t like about the record is the rather tinny sound of it.  There is bass, but it’s not very loud, and the two guitars are certainly turned up in the mix (and play mostly the high strings).  Having said that, “James Dean” (which also appears on their full length) has a much fuller sound, bigger chords and some of the most straightforward lyrics yet (all in Julia Shapiro’s keening voice)

chastityYou’re a slut
I’m a whore
we’ve fucked everyone before
Oh boy, when I fuck you
you make me feel like a prostitute
yeah, when you fuck me
I make you feel just like James Dean

You can check the EP out on their bandcamp site.

On this recording, Chastity Belt was On this record: Julia Shapiro, Lydia Lund, Annie Truscott, and Gretchen Grimm.

[READ: January 21, 2015] Chew: Volume Seven

After the horrible events at the end of Book Six, Book Seven was a chance for Revenge!

Tony Chu has not taken the event of book six lightly, and he is ready to get the bastard–the “vampire”–who has caused such distress to his family.  In fact, things are so serious that Tony (and Colby) have been reinstated to the FDA (and their boss doesn’t seem to mind).

And remember the high priestesss from the church of the super ova? (I had forgotten about her, but she’s back with all those writings in the sky and whatnot).  Well, she is looking to cause a lot of trouble.

But not everyone is happy that Colby has been transferred back. His former boss at the USDA is terribly sad to see her bed partner go. Of course, Colby’s new boss (who was his old boss) is suddenly also quite keen on having him back…I love how that is resolved with a nod and wink from the authors several chapters later. (more…)

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