Ava Luna – Wrenning Day (Infinite Best)
Alright you guys, this is it, the last time I try to persuade you of the ways of Ava Luna. I’ve given you their first two self released CD-R EPs, 3rd Avenue Island & Services (now available together on one slab of vinyl!), and now they’ve dropped their debut full length, also on vinyl (obviously). It’s a fuckin stunner. These guys have really honed in on something spectacularly original, a hopefully trademarked brand of sexy soul punk. Mostly drums n synth, with some guitars & strings thrown in to liven shit up and keep it classy, but Ava Luna’s secret weapon are everyone’s fucking voices. Carlos’ is incredible, powerful, gritty & smooth, hitting falsettos like nobody’s business, and the girls, oh my god those honied female harmonies are elating, they bring this shit to the next level. If you’ve been following Ava Luna since 3rd Ave, then Ice Level may seem a bit less abrasive. They’ve toned it down a bit, but it still gets rowdy as hell and loud enough to annoy the neighbors. The beats still sway between simple & danceable to jerky & even more danceable. They do the quiet-loud thing so well, mostly due to the quiet parts being so fucking captivating, just a lonely slow beating drum, maybe a little synthy melody, and the most beautiful vocals you’ve ever heard. So unbelievably fucking good. Shake it, be serenaded, work it, swoon, sexiness abound. This is the real deal you guys. No more fucking around. Time to join Ava Luna’s soul punk party.
Boy Without God – Of Cowboys & Other Beautiful Men (self released)
The sort of sound that’s not usually my bag (saxophones, song-oriented, God-y) but when it’s powerful & memorable enough that one or two years later I’m able to recognize a song I only heard once, I would be a jackass if I didn’t pay attention. A brilliantly smooth blend of new Americana, old blues, soul, new wave clean garage rock, doo-wop, jazz, and anything else he’s inspired by. Poetic lyrics sung in the most passionate deep baritone that sounds maybe a little like the dude from Crash Test Dummies, except not annoying and totally sincere. I’d say his voice is what hooks you in the beginning but it’s probably just the most noticeably unique aspect. Songs break in cathartic crescendos with angry guitar destruction & dissonant horn skronking or blissful howling & lush dreams. Lonely acoustic guitars, deft electric Neil Young sounds, flushed out strings & brass, mourning heartbreak, uplifting youthful love, straight up the catchiest fucking tunes. Endlessly listenable and hands down one of the greatest records this year.
Easily Gabriel’s most well thought out and complete sounding record I’ve heard. It’s obvious this is what he’s wanted to sound like. More people are involved on this record, both in terms of instruments & vocals (including the addition of some fantastic boy/girl harmonies) and in terms of production & mastering. The physical disc is printed by Repeat Press, the same dude who did that slick as hell High Aura’d album.