Saturday, October 10, 2015

La Luz Weirdo Shrine & Show # 581

Recorded in an old surf shop by Ty Segall, La Luz’s second full-length album comes off with more of a hazier mood to it as opposed to this Seattle band’s first album, It’s Alive. In addition to the hazy feeling that glides across all of the tracks on Weirdo Shrine, the lyrical subject matter is also darker. Inspired by the Charles Burns graphic novel Black Hole, many of the themes that were found across its pages seep their way into Weirdo Shrine’s lyrics and overall mood. La Luz’s undeniable 60s surf rock influence from bands such as Dick Dale and The Ventures are still apparent, but the band combines this with their strong vocal harmonies ala The Shangri-Las or The Ronnettes, adding a bit of doo-wop and subtle soul influences in with their love of surf music for a sound that is uniquely their own.

The album opens with the slow guitar arpeggios and layered vocal harmonies of “Sleep Till They Die”, a track that juxtaposes a feeling of unease lyrically, while “You Disappear” comes in with a more upbeat drum fill surrounded by hazy, humming organ parts mixed with clean guitars. The song also showcases La Luz’s use of guitar fuzz distortion for their solos. It appears in the middle of this song and subtly at the beginning of the album’s opening track. Mostly known for their cleaner guitar sounds, La Luz employ the distortion that they do use in small doses, not overloading songs with it. Lyrically, words such as “Lost in the city/So far from what you knew” and “No one can tell what direction you’ll go/Your eyes don’t show”, seem to come from the mutated characters of Burns’ Black Hole and come alive in the lyrics and in between the music. But the song also takes on several other meanings, such as one of loneliness or of a fleeting relationship. “With Davey” starts with the fuzzy ambient sounds of the surf shop in which this album was recorded in and a bouncy bassline. Amongst the organ, drum fills, clean guitars and reverb soaked vocals, the song’s distortion creeps in as it ends.

Surf noir is a term that could be used to describe the particular brand of surf music influences that La Luz brings forward on this album. “Don’t Wanna Be Anywhere”, was apparently inspired by the passing of a friend of La Luz guitarist Shana Cleveland and emphasizes an otherworldly feeling, one that would fit into the surf noir description. “Hey Papi” provides a short instrumental break in the album before “I Wanna Be Alone (With You)” comes in with its energetic drums, erratic maracas and an up-tempo groove. “I’ll Be True” showcases drummer Marian Li Pino and bassist Lena Simon’s ability to lock into the groove as the rest of the band plays a descending musical pattern that sounds like the song is drifting or floating. “Oohs and ahhs” along with the dominate lyric “I’ll be true to you/Just as long as you want me to” take on a hypnotizing effect throughout the song. “Black Hole, Weirdo Shrine” continues in the more up-tempo fashion of the later parts of this album. Digging in deep musically and lyrically, the song once again touches on themes from Charles Burns’ graphic novel Black Hole but also on themes of obsession. Keyboardist Alice Sandhal recently provided some insight on this song in an interview for Rookie Magazine:

I was thinking about things that people obsess about in life, like love or religion or spirituality. Things people build up with all this personal meaning, which nobody could understand the way they do. A lot of songs end up being love songs or songs about obsession, like you’re making this weird shrine, like it’s not even a person it’s just this idea of someone that you’ve created in your head that nobody could understand in the same way.

Along with the earlier track “You Disappear”, “Oranges” was inspired in part by the Washington poet Richard Brautigan. “Oranges” is the second instrumental track found on Weirdo Shrine and it provides a break, bringing down the tempo just before the album’s closing track, “True Love Knows”. With lyrics such as “True love knows when it’s left alone”, this song evokes a haunting melody by Cleveland and themes of escape seem to buoy their way throughout Weirdo Shrine’s last track.

When thinking of 60s surf rock, the image of being on a beach in the sun as surfers explore the ocean waves are often conjured up. For La Luz, they trade sunlight for dusk, as the band plays on Weirdo Shrine one could imagine the band playing as the sun is going down as opposed to it shining bright. La Luz bounces back and forth between cool nighttime vibes and beams of sunlight tackling and overcoming the sophomore slump that bands sometimes fall into with their second album. On Weirdo Shrine, La Luz builds their own sound and identity. This album takes on a smooth cinematic landscape, providing a layered, hazy, surf- influenced sound with a northwest twist.

Saturday Night Playlist:

1. Babysitter - Exploding Youth
2. Tough Age - Flying Carpet
3. Elvis Costello & The Attractions - Living In Paradise
4. The Riptides - 77 Sunset Strip
5. Sunnyboys - Love To Rule
6. Alex G - Kicker
7. Kurt Vile - I'm An Outlaw
8. Tea Leaves - I Want To Live In The Dirt
9. The Hellbound Hepcats - Black Cats
10. X-Ray Cat Trio - Rockero Fantasma
11. Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet - Exit From Vince Lombardi High School
12. U.S Girls - Sed Knife
13. Slim Twig - Live In, Live On Your Era
14. The Boys Next Door - The Night Watchmen
15. The Boys Next Door - The Voice
16. Courtney Barnett - Shivers
17. Mike Krol Cactuses
18. Blind Doctors - You've Got A Drinking Friend
19. Middle Sister Finer Things Cries Of The Wild
20. The 3-D Invisibles - The Blob
21. Ought - The Combo
22. The Famines - Attack Machine Blues
23. The Gories - Hidden Charms
24. The Leftovers - I Only Panic When There’s Nothing To Do
25. The Saints - (I’m) Stranded
26. The Saints - A Minor Aversion
27. La Luz - I Don’t Wanna Be Anywhere
28. La Luz - Black Hole, Weirdo Shrine

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for October 10. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

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