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Shana Cleveland, singer/guitarist for surf-rock band La Luz, strikes out on her own today (Jan. 15) with the trippy yet lucid single “Face of the Sun,” from her forthcoming solo album Night of the Worm Moon. The record promises psychedelic folk sounds, incorporating such ideas as Afrofuturism and alternate dimensions.
Cleveland defies being placed into a particular genre, as her past solo project Oh Man, Cover the Ground brought some meditative indie warmth but remained firmly rooted to the earth with thumping tambourines and gentle piano. “Face of the Sun” reveals an entirely different side of Cleveland, with the musician untethering herself and drifting off into stellar folk madness. Her voice is clear as she hypnotically commands you to “Look into the face of the sun,” and proves so powerfully luminescent that you find yourself doing so, even against your better instincts. Floating on a cloud of twanging guitars (that surf-rock edge not too far away), it’s easy to imagine staring into the burning sky as you wander through the hazy California desert or an alien landscape. In short, this track sounds a bit like if First Aid Kit took some hallucinogens.
The La Luz frontwoman drew some inspiration for her album from Afrofuturist and experimental jazz musician Sun Ra, with its title winking at his 1970 record Night of the Purple Moon. “As much a work of California sci-fi as Octavia Butler’s Parable novels,” a press release describes, her album synthesizes “pastoral folk with cosmic concerns.”
Cleveland’s relocation to Los Angeles also played a part in the record’s formation, as she was fascinated by how the extraordinary can become oddly quotidian in Southern California. She recalled one particularly surreal scene in L.A. in a statement:
Shortly after I moved to Los Angeles I went to a hip hotel to watch a poolside screening of a documentary about a local alien-worshiping cult. Out front celebrities were getting out of the backs of cars and rushing past autograph hounds into some roped-off room where a secret dinner was about to commence. In the lobby a woman was being paid to exist inside a glass box. [Then] a car dressed as a spaceship pulled up in front to release 30 white doves into the sky above Sunset Boulevard.
Night of the Worm Moon was, quite aptly, recorded during the 2017 solar eclipse. Cleveland and her collaborators paused their work to admire a projection of the sun on a trash can through a piece of cardboard. She recalled, “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.”
A number of artists join her on the record, including Will Sprott (Shannon & the Clams), Abbey Blackwell, Goss (the original bassist for La Luz) and Kristian Garrard (the drummer for Cleveland’s solo project with The Sandcastles).
Night of the Worm Moon will be released by Hardly Art Records on April 5. Find “Face of the Sun” below, along with the album’s tracklist and cover art.
Night of the Worm Moon Tracklist:
01. Don’t Let Me Sleep
02. Face of the Sun
03. In Another Realm
04. Castle Milk
05. Night of the Worm Moon
06. Invisible When the Sun Leaves
07. The Fireball
08. Solar Creep
09. A New Song
10. I’ll Never Know
Night of the Worm Moon Album Art: