(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Friday, March 4, 2011

CD review - La Sera, La Sera (2011)

In my dream, there was a warm, glowing radio. In addition to the standard volume and frequency knobs, this radio had two other knobs. One was labeled "year", the other "dimension". I tuned the year knob to somewhere in the mid-1960s. Then I twisted the dimension knob to the left a bit. As the music pushed through the static, I woke up...

La Sera's debut album sounds like 1965 or so, except for some of the guitar distortion, which enhances the emotional impact. The thick, echoed female vocals take on the density of Phil Spector's Wall of Sound. The richly evocative music is draped in a low-fi haze. Guitars jangle and chime while the warm, simple bass lines soothe the soul. The lilting vocals are occasionally hard to discern, but La Sera is more about mood. Influenced by the heavy retro vibe, the songs hearken back to a simpler kind of innocence.

The album provokes a host of musical associations from tune to tune; one minute, it's the arrangements and choral harmonies of the Ronettes, then it's a more restrained version of the sound of The Velvet Underground & Nico. In between, you can hear the vocal meshing of the Mamas and the Papas (minus the Papas) or the track production values of the Cowboy Junkies (reverbed, with the vocals a little low in the mix). Throughout the album, the music stays rooted in an early '60s pop, leavened with a dollop of garage rock.

One of my favorite tracks is Lift Off, which sounds like a female Buddy Holly cover. Perfect simplicity with the only flaw being that it's too short. (The longest track doesn't quite hit 3 minutes.) Another great song is Devil Hearts Grow Gold (dig Har Mar Superstar as the devil). Some light slide guitar adds a subtle psychedelic fringe as the ethereal vocals fill the song with sunshine.

La Sera is a side project from Katy Goodman (Vivian Girls). Some of the garage rock feel of that band splashes onto La Sera and the bass work is (of course) similar, but La Sera is much slower and more reflective. La Sera came out last month. Sip some original Coca-Cola (with real sugar, not the corn syrup) and slide into that alternate dimension with La Sera's music.

Pick up La Sera here.

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