If you dote on it for a sec, it’s kind of staggering how long that ol’ echoey, whammy bar, surf guitar sound has stuck around. Every few years it finds another mass of youngins in thrall to its mysterious warble that wafts off into infinity like all those unanswered questions you start realizing won’t get answers for as you enter your mid-20s. From Dwayne Eddie’s finger tips to your 2013 ears, it’s one of music’s great mysteries how that sound revives its cool more than any other rock instrument.
And so it went around seven years ago when bands like the Black Lips, King Khan & BBQ and a few others brought it back for the millennials, albeit with a trashed Cramps vibe. Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls, and a slew of others added lilting lady vox. Seemingly everyone then cranked knobs and clicked icons that read “REVERB.” And now, frankly, it might be time to reel in those wavey strings once again. But then a band comes along that can still pull some of that ‘60s sunset mystery along for a late summer evening drive. Thusly, the four-lass La Luz from Seattle.
On this—their debut full-length after their well-received EP, Damp Face—a classic sixties chord progression and Farfisa-like keyboards that color La Luz’ au currant coy-garage sound set it all out in the first few seconds of the first song (Sure As Spring) and continue on that way, all the way. In that song, singer/guitarist Shana Cleveland claims, “It’s so hard to get my blood to settle down.” And Big Big Blood, with its churchy organ, spooky choral opening, and shuffle beat is a little trickier to pin down than their basic urban beach template.
As the rec floats on though, it’s actually a little bit too bloodless. On the week Lou Reed died we learn once again that Nico has her own long shadow, stretching through David Lynch soundtracks, Mazzy Star, and dammit, probably even Lana del Ray. It seems breathy, angelic, and narcoticized is the default setting for indie rock female singers these days. And we may also need to reel in that trend too. But hey, if it ain’t broke…
Which it is not on It’s Alive. I’m guessing that live, with cool vintage amps cranked and lights casting shadows, this band could make a night in a dank club transcend into your own little film noir backlot. Meaning this record could serve the same service all alone in your bedroom.