PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

La Sera: Music for Listening to Music To

Photo: Julia Brokaw

Music for Listening to Music To is commendable in its display of sadness within a boxed-in life, speeding through the road before hearing its praise.


La Sera

Music for Listening to Music to

Label: Polyvinyl
US Release Date: 2016-03-04
UK Release Date: 2016-03-04
Amazon
iTunes

Music for Listening to Music To is a strange misnomer that feels like something straight from Inception. For one, the title states that these are the tunes one would listen to before immersing themselves in something grander in scale. It's like walking from the kiddie pool and spreading one's limbs as they cross into deeper depths. Thankfully, La Sera aren't that shallow and simple when it comes to their sound. Those expecting bar jams to the LA rockers' new record, however, will be disappointed.

The images that Music for Listening to Music To barrages one with are hot and dusty in nature, bringing one into lone star joints settled in the middle of nowhere. The switches between day and night aren't as clear, instead admiring the dusk more than the sunny mornings. The band experience their music like a drive in a car, hula girl figurine dancing by the dashboard. The road is long and vocalist Katy Goodman is moody for a little sing-along over drinks and a rowdy bunch biker gangs. Picture Lucy Rose's video for "Bikes" but actually conveying the mood of a bar. In this manner, La Sera feel like they've developed, finding the dimension of melancholy that they might be able to call home. Past tracks from Sees the Light like "Love That's Gone" and "It's Over Now" initiated this style along with tunes that can elicit jams. On this road of consistency, the band find direction they can be comfortable in for now.

La Sera have found this comfort within the sound of country and folk, specifically in Bob Dylan records. The shortcoming to this is lacking an edge that made previous hits glow with social depth. On Hour of the Dawn when she sang about the notion of being passed out in the bar scene ("Losing to the Dark"), instrumentation contains a witchy quality to its distortion and its bang. Its hints of date rape have a gravity to them that wouldn't be diffused by a track called "10 Headed Goat Wizard". Like the title of the former track, La Sera are indeed losing to the dark in this album, but that doesn't make them emotionless slaves to time.

Intro track "High Notes" has the sarcastic tiredness of a lounge singer finally cracking at the face of critique. Its fast strings substitute the genuine spark of love or hate that Goodman and Todd Wisenbaker lack, and emotional exhaustion is not a cause of defence because there's no narrative. Tracks become simple love songs in themselves, with rhetoric that love has an omnipotent quality not striking the nerves it wants to hit ("A Thousand Ways"). Yet the best thing about such a song is its ability to draw on strings and percussion that would make a prom king and queen cradle each other à la Steve and Laurie from American Graffiti. It feels stolen from Mac DeMarco, yet it sounds even more ready for a slow dance, like the later track "Take My Heart" and its arpeggiated strings. Goodman doesn't posit herself as a refined lyricist within the record, but she does more than well in accidentally conveying a mood. If you listen to each "Take My heart", you can hear the actual heartbreak in her voice. Common indie fare aside, this is a splendid moment.

Wisenbaker's vocal contributions within Music for Listening to Music to lack the same impact that Goodman's has. That said, he channels the cool of Dylan well while '80s guitar strings perform their best rendition of what country punk might sound like ("I Need An Angel"). Guitars find freedom in such a track because they express an on the road quality to them--and like things on the dusty road, you never know what you'll see or hear. This freedom lasts on "Time to Go", with its consistent love for speed and double-take worthy lyric about a driver trying to rear-end Goodman out of anger. No one in the band delivers the air of a menacing attitude, yet these shades are still nice to note.

Music for Listening to Music to is surprising in that it hits the thresholds of likeability and then runs away from the conceptual bar in favor of speeding faster than light. It might dabble in simplicity to a fault, but it makes up for it with instinctual choices like rusty strings and perfect harmonics ("Shadow of Your Love"). For each mistake -- whether an arbitrary choice to include a harmonica ("High Notes") or a dull line here and there ("Nineties" being a large mistake) -- the band pull something like a MacGuffin. Upon early listens, the thought of assuming that Goodman was robotic in feeling lingered in the background, and numbness couldn't explain it. Yet it's in the sonic escapades and possible boxed-in life of the band that shows aptitude. Who knew that the music for listen to music to was depressing?

6

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.