Quality surf rock isn’t foreign to Seattle (see: Seapony’s Falling, a previous Album of the Month), but La Luz nails a surf sound that better suits the city with its first LP It’s Alive. The album still features the traditional chill California vibe that defines the genre, but it also pulses with an omnipresent sense of Northwest isolation and dread; a darker tone that fits our lack of consistent sunshine. Think Dick Dale on a bad peyote trip.
Lead singer and guitarist Shana Cleveland's vocals mix hazy detachment and an underlying smoldering passion. The alluring blend permeates on the smoky doo-wop flavored “Call Me in the Day,” and grim lyricism finds its way onto tracks like “Sure as Spring,” where she drops the line, “Now I kind of want to die, and that’s the truest way to know that I’m alive.” It’s as close as surf rock comes to brooding.
The band fully supports Cleveland’s efforts with a barrage of minor chord melodies that provide It’s Alive with its shadowy feel. The signature surf rock vocal harmonies are present, but there are also creeping bass lines (“What Good Am I?”) from Abbey Blackwell and foreboding keyboard swells (“Big Big Blood”) via Alice Sandahl. The band’s stylistic unity and tightness, including Marian Li Pino’s rolling wave drumming, are on full display on the album’s instrumental tracks “Sunstroke” and “Phantom Feelings.” With It’s Alive, La Luz manages to create a surf rock album that cinematically belongs more to gritty nights rolling through dimly lit streets in the wrong part of town than bright, bikini-filled beach party scenes.
Of Montreal and La Luz
Nov 6 at 9, Neumos, $18