In the spring of 2010, Chastity Belt wasn’t so much a band as it was two words tagged all over its members’ mutual meeting place, Walla Walla, WA. At the time singer, guitarist, and songwriter Julia Shapiro was best known for hijacking performances by college students, whose bands were virtually guaranteed to die upon graduation, in order to play one joke song, Nickelback’s “Photograph.” It’s not that she had any love for the Alberta post-grunge behemoth, but a decade of their ubiquity served as something from which to craft an opposite; three years later, Chastity Belt’s debut album, No Regerts, is the logical conclusion to this venture and demonstrable proof that they are the accidental heirs to the Pacific Northwest’s rich musical legacy, Candlebox excepted, that we never knew we needed.
As she finished school, Shapiro began jamming with her friend Lydia Lund, whose spidery guitar leads filled in the space around her chords. Annie Truscott’s bass filled in much needed low-end around Gretchen Grimm’s drums, which were purchased for $50 in La Grande, Oregon and sounded exactly as good as that description would make them out to. They wrote songs about teenage hooliganism, music-obsessed boys, drugs, and bad sex, building from deconstructed drum fills and major-seventh chords that buried stunning melodies in MacBook recordings. After a summer spent apart, a run of well-received out of town shows and a desire to see this thing through led the quartet to relocate to Seattle, where audiences quickly took to a lonesome crowded sound that evoked riot grrl without ever rehashing it, dream pop devoid of played out drum machines and organs.
The ten songs that make up No Regerts, recorded in the spring of 2013 by José Diaz and released last August by local upstarts Help Yourself, reveal staggering growth and make clear Shapiro’s love of Stevie Nicks, Victoria Legrand, Fiona Apple, and countless others. Despite this, their first tour shirt was a black and white photograph of Nickelback and the name Chastity Belt in all caps underneath. And this is more than an inside joke; on the gorgeous first single “Seattle Party,” Shapiro inadvertently rewrote the last line of Nickelback’s breakthrough hit, “How You Remind Me.” “I think they’re having fun,” she croons, a detached observer, inconsolable, at a party full of uncommunicative Cool People. Expect it to soundtrack the next party full of Cool People you end up at. Know that you know what’s up.