To pull off a side project, a musician must first have a band with a specific sound to branch off from, and that branching off must not sound exactly like the original band. Think The Postal Service from Death Cab for Cutie or Lotus Plaza from Deerhunter. La Luz guitarist Shana Cleveland can now join those ranks, with her long-gestating side project Shana Cleveland and the Sandcastles finally breaking free of the “mostly for house shows” title they’d prescribed themselves over the past six years.
Cleveland’s gentle neo-folk sounds miles away from La Luz’s surf rock. Oh Man, Cover the Ground, the side project’s official debut, is chock full of introspective lyrics and meandering guitar that shows a different side of Cleveland’s talents. After a while, though, the album starts to bleed together, sounding more like a few songs with different movements than a 13-track album.