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La Sera - Sees the Light (Hardly Art)

24 March 2012

Though it’s been only a year since La Sera‘s self-titled debut, this 2nd Lp has been in the can since it was recorded last summer and has been a record I’ve been looking forward to hearing ever since I found out about it last year. Between La Sera’s output (which also include 2 7“s and a choice cover of Guided by Voices‘ “Watch Me Jumpstart” on the 2011 GBV tribute Sing for Your Meat) and Katy Goodman‘s other job as bassist for Vivian Girls, she’s put out a lot of great records in recent years. Thankfully, this one is no exception. While La Sera was recorded with production and instrumental help from Brady Hall and just features Goodman (who wrote all the songs on both La Sera Lps) on vocals and Hall on all instruments, Sees the Light is more of a collaborative effort. Her main partner-in-crime here is Rob Barbato of Darker My Love. He not only produced it, but plays on much of the record as well along with fellow Darker My Love member Dan Allaire on drums. In fact, one track (the raging “Please Be My Third Eye”) features Darker My Love’s Tim Presley on guitar as well, making it virtually like Goodman backed by almost all of Darker My Love! Goodman plays bass is on most of it, too, and there’s even one track (“How Far We’ve Come Now”) where she tries out a distorted-sounding electric guitar.

Stylistically, “Please Be My Third Eye” (the first song to be released from the record months ago and in video format as well) is a bit of a red herring as it’s much more up tempo than most of the material here. Still, this shows growth and stylistic diversity and is a big step up from the (albeit still fantastic) moody, lo-fi dream-pop of the self-titled debut. Several songs take great influence from ’50s and early ’60s styles ranging from Buddy Holly‘s early rock and roll in particular to girl group era sounds. I’m particularly thinking of album opener “Love That’s Gone”, the rollicking “I Can’t Keep You in My Mind” and “Real Boy”. Others, like the fantastic “Break My Heart”, are more in the shoegazer-ish, psychedelic-pop mold. Lyrically, this is clearly a breakup record with many songs (particularly “It’s Over Now” and the aforementioned “How Far We’ve Come Now” along with album closer “Don’t Stay”) seeming to show a profound guilt in addressing the end of a relationship. It’s refreshing and quite rare to find a songwriter just as willing to honestly blame herself as others and to come terms with it.