Tuesday, October 8, 2013

REVIEW: La Luz - It's Alive

One must be careful about assumptions.  If I were to tell a hypothetical music fan - let's call him Dudley - that this review concerns a debut LP by an all female Seattle band featuring a guitar, bass, organ and drum kit, Dudley might be tempted to think that the discussion would concern fuzzy, jangling guitar, earnest strumming and a twee lyrical approach.  That would not only be wrong (and a bit narrow-minded - bad boy, Dudley, bad boy!), but it would suggest that Dudley hasn't regularly been reading these pages [author pauses to wipe away a tear].  Regular readers know that La Luz is not fuzz pop, and definitely is not twee.  What La Luz most definitely is, is one of the most promising young bands in a city known for promising young bands.

La Luz's winning groove is a combination of surf pop and retro girl group.  And with respect to surf pop, we're not talking about a few touches thrown in here and there.  From the opening of the album's first track, "Sure As Spring" and continuing throughout the album, La Luz delivers the surging drums, authoritative bass and unmistakable organ flourishes that characterize the surf genre.  But first and foremost, there is Shana Cleveland's guitar.  Ms Cleveland is a strikingly good guitarist, and as for her ability in the surf rock space, it wouldn't have surprised me to discover that she spent her formative years with Dick Dale.  The girl group aspect of the sound is a direct result of having a female lead singer with three other females singing back up, or simply delivering the sweetest "ooohs" you've heard in a long time.  Of course, given the stylistic choices La Luz has made, you will here influences - the surf rock forerunners, the dark twang of Link Wray, the Chiffons, and recent San Francisco garage rock.  The the art is in the melding of the influences to make an album distinctive to La Luz.

You can sample It's Alive via the three tracks below.  "Sure As Spring" is the supercharged opener.  The eminently seductive "Call Me In The Day" is a beautifully crafted and executed track that is on my 'songs of the year' playlist.  "Big Big Blood is a great tune, and a free download.

La Luz - Call Me in the Day from Bobby McHugh on Vimeo.

La Luz is Shana Cleveland (guitar), Marian Li Pino (drums), Abbey Blackwell (bass), and Alice Sandahl (keyboard).  Shana is the principal songwriter and vocalist.  It's Alive is out now via Seattle's Hardly Art label.

Hardly Art page for La Luz

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