California Sounds: La Luz’s resonant surf rock, Tinashe’s new track with Future and Itasca’s fluid, delicate guitar work
La Luz, “Cicada” video (Hardly Art). The first song and video from the Los Angeles band’s forthcoming third album, “Floating Features,” is magnetic both musically and conceptually. The clip presents itself as the opening credits to a telenovela, and the song as its souped-up, surf-inspired theme. Within moments we’re learning about dastardly characters, tarot cards, seances and a mystery man with his face bandaged.
It’s a funny, well-executed conceit, but that shouldn’t surprise. The quartet has long showcased its keen aesthetic by crafting echoed guitar songs that hit with a vibe that hints at Roy Orbison, Wanda Jackson, the Cramps and Duane Eddy.
The band — singer-guitarist Shana Cleveland, drummer Marian Li Pino, keyboardist Alice Sandahl and bassist Lena Simon — is in the beginning stages of the album’s rollout. According to early release notes, one of the key themes of “Floating Features,” which arrives May 11, is the way in which dreams inhabit and influence reality.
Tinashe, “Faded Love (feat. Future)” (RCA). The new track from the consistently surprising Los Angeles R&B singer is driven by a stutter-step beat inspired by Jamaican dance-hall music, and features a verse by platinum rapper Future.
Taken from her long-delayed second album, “Joyride,” the track is produced by Stargate, best known for its hits for Beyoncé, Ne Yo, Sam Smith, Julia Michaels and dozens more. The song’s very arrival is great news, as it further confirms that Tinashe’s label, RCA, still remains committed to an album that’s been in the works for nearly three years.
With a bumping, minimalist beat, “Faded Love” earns its momentum from bottom-end bass tones and deep atmospherics penetrated by mid-range handclaps and Tinashe’s understated, breathy delivery. A song about a no-strings tryst, the singer expresses her desire for a lover by telling him what she doesn’t want: “No, don’t give me your name/No, I don’t need your number saved in my phone/Just follow me, follow me, follow me/Follow me home.”
Her directness, however, seems to have addled Future. Despite her assurance that she wants him, at various points in his quick verse Future brags that he’s “on my fourth stripper of the day,” that he keeps “a full thoroughbred Jamaican” (presumably in a stable?) and that he was able to “get some love from a video vixen on the runway.” What he doesn’t say is whether he’s showered after his busy day.
Itasca, “Morning Flower” (Dove Cove). The second album from Los Angeles transplant Kayla Cohen is a delicate affair, one focused solely on her American-primitive acoustic guitar style and way with the occasional lyric.
Suggestive of pastoral musical poets including instrumental guitarist John Fahey, British singer and songwriter Vashti Bunyan and canyon outsider Linda Perhacs, Cohen as Itasca works her fingertips with the gentle dexterity of a musician long obsessed with removing the filter between muse and motion.
At just under three minutes, “Road Wine” is an Olympics-level feat of control, as Cohen slaloms across her fretboard like a skier down an icy course. “Snow Melt” drifts patiently, a seven-minute instrumental work that mixes resonant runs with a second track of slightly distorted electric guitar.
Like the work of underappreciated Portland guitarist Marisa Anderson and L.A. transplant William Tyler, Cohen is waltzing with the spirits of Fahey and guitarist Sandy Bull — while reveling in her own fluid style.
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