On first listen to "Sleep Til They Die", the lead-off track on their superb new album, Weirdo Shrine, I said to myself: "Well, that's the sort of thing I've never heard from the wilds of 'American Indie' before!"
The cut, like most of those here on this fantastic record, juxtaposes a sort of surf rock-style with the kind of multi-layered vocals that Brian Wilson and his Sixties cronies would have killed for. This is all amped up, like on the rollicking "You Disppear", into something unique and fresh and highly intoxicating to a listener.
Weirdo Shrine, out in a few days on Hardly Art, is one of the summer of 2015's most unexpected surprises. I guess the blame's on me for not getting on-board with this band sooner. There is, frankly, no other act making music as sublimely affecting as stuff like "With Davey", all cooing vocals and shuffling drums topped off with a rippling guitar solo from Shana Cleveland. Cleveland, along with bassist Lena Simon, organist Alice Sandahl, and drummer Marian Li Pino, are all uniformly excellent musicians and their skills drive Weirdo Shrine on each of these 11 cuts.
"Don't Wanna Be Anywhere" bears a slight trace of indie pioneers like Juliana Hatfield but it remains, like all of these songs, wholly unique and hard to pin down. The young women in La Luz are, quite simply, creating a new genre here. "I Can't Speak" is like some strange mix of eras -- you've got the hint of the sort of vocals you'd hear on Sixties classics underpinned by that Dick Dale-style guitar. And that's not even to mention the organ-work; how many bands have successfully integrated an organ sound since the Doors? Not many I can think of.
"Hey Papi" bursts in on Li Pino's expert beats and crashing cymbals as the rest of the band rides a riff off a cliff and into the Pacific Ocean. This is highly invigorating stuff. "I Wanna Be Alone (With You)" places that organ up-front again and the tune develops around it until the guitar kicks in. "I'll Be True" takes things down a notch and lets the vocals take precedence, while "Black Hole, Weirdo Shrine" succeeds largely thanks to Li Pino's Dennis Wilson-like drumming. The cooing vocals add the overall effect but the cut is largely a cymbal-heavy rocker.
Following instrumental "Oranges", Weirdo Shrine closes on the positively sublime "True Love Knows", all dreamy vocals and subtle instrumental work. It is, like the other 10 tracks here, just a a fantastic piece of music unlike anything else you're going to hear in 2015. I haven't mentioned producer/engineer Ty Segall in my review yet because I'd hate for La Luz to get lumped in with his stuff. Mind you, I love his stuff but the music of La Luz is nothing like that sort of thing.
I really wish that I had gotten on the bandwagon with La Luz earlier. Somehow in the course of my music blogging career I had never been hipped to the charms of this band before. Well, it's never too late and now I consider myself a big fan. There are simply no other bands making music like this and I urge you to grab Weirdo Shrine as soon as you can when it's released this week.