Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper: Shana Cleveland & The Sandcastles – “Itching Around”

April 16, 2015

It’s nice to see the name Shana being so sweetly represented by another talented musician. La Luz frontwoman Shana Cleveland captures the heart of finger-picked folk from years past in her dusty, ambient new tune, “Itching Around.” This first taste of her long-awaited debut album, Oh Man, Cover The Ground, is endearing, personal, and timeless, wandering through a serious of riffs and words that reflect Shana’s feelings and affect a universal feeling of nostalgia in any listener. Upon further examination, that description fits Shana Cleveland & The Sandcastles quite well. The album itself was recorded quite casually back in 2011 in Shana’s basement. As for Shana and her band, well, I think this snippet from her bio says it best:

Shana Cleveland is a rare artist who seems dismissive of time. She’s been performing with a rotating batch of musicians tagged as The Sandcastles for over six years, and yet Oh Man, Cover The Ground is their first proper album. It would be easy to chalk up the delay behind the debut to a slacker lifestyle—Oh Man, Cover The Ground’s laid-back vibe certainly suggests an extremely casual approach to songcraft. But Cleveland is no slacker. In the years since she first started playing out under her own name, she’s helmed a number of other music projects; most notably her revered Girls In The Garage-inspired band La Luz. In her downtime, she’s crafted a set of 37 trading cards dedicated to obscure acoustic guitarists and a calendar of drawings depicting rock bands of yesteryear. The glacial pace ofOh Man, Cover The Ground’s development has little to do with work ethic and everything to do with doing things in a way that feels right. “I don’t really think of it as a proper band,” says Cleveland. “The line-up has been different for almost every show depending on which arrangements I thought would be best for the atmosphere. Some shows I played alone; some with bass, clarinet, and backing vocals; some with the addition of drums, cello and piano. We’ve played shows really selectively throughout the last few years—just sticking to shows that I thought sounded really interesting. Like, I’d rather play these songs for people in their bedrooms or in a field at night than on a three band bill at a bar.” In an industry fixated on striking while the iron is hot, getting an artist in front of as many people in as short of a time as possible, Cleveland’s insistence on atmosphere over arbitrary numbers is a bold move.

I’m more than excited for the rest of this release that promises to sound best on vinyl. Oh Man, Cover The Ground is out 5/26 via Suicide Squeeze.

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