Monday, August 10, 2015
La Luz - Weirdo Shrine
Students of cinema may remember that one of the defining moments of Dorothy's time in Oz was when her wayward pup prompted her to look behind the curtain and discover the truth about the Wizard. The lesson, which is repeated throughout the movie, is that things aren't always what they seem. Listeners to Weirdo Shrine, the new album from La Luz, should similarly look below the surface. The pretty harmonies and incredible surf guitar are easy to take at face value. But the rewards are richer if you also dive below the surface. And there is a lot below the surface of Weirdo Shrine. Swim past the backbone organ riffs and a dynamite, if sadly unsung, rhythm section (seriously, Li Pino's drumming gets better with each outing), and bathe in the deliciously dark waters. Thematically indebted to a graphic novel titled Black Hole and shaded by the band's own narrow escape from death in a highway accident a couple of years ago, the songs offer a plenitude of dark corners to explore. But just when all the weighty themes threaten to hold you down like a surfer caught under a crashing wave, you ride to the crest again on the buoyant rhythms and transcendent guitar. And that makes sense to me. This is a band that has grown musically, matured after experiencing touring and near death, and most likely grown together personally. So now they are at a point when they can tackle themes in a manner that celebrates and fully appreciates being alive. The album is called Weirdo Shrine, but with reference to the title of their debut - It's Alive - perhaps it should have been subtitled We're Alive Too).
Oh, and if you don't give a damn about themes and such, this is a cracking good surf rock band.
The album was produced by lo-fi garage rock wizard Ty Segall, with plenty of fuzz and a live to tape feel.
La Luz is Shana Cleveland (guitar), Marian Li Pino (drums), Alice Sandahl (keyboard), and Lena Simon (bass). Weirdo Shrine is out not via Hardly Art.