I wouldn’t call myself a beach guy. I’ve always viewed surfers with a detached distance, as members of a culture whose basic tenets are confusingly beautiful at best, disgustingly superficial at worst. All that sun and exposed skin is too much for a northeastern forest-dweller like myself, my eyes get sore from so much squinting. That’s a little like what happens to my ears when I hear The Beach Boys or Dick Dale, they turn beat red and I have to run back home and ask my mom to rub ointment on them.
I did spend some time living on the West Coast though, and there were days that I spent camping and hiking in Big Sur. I would see bouncy, tan surf-people frolicking in the sand late into the evening as the temperature cooled, and the setting sun cast a bluish-purple glaze over the Pacific coastline. A deep, slow breeze would creep in over the water and engulf me, and for a while in that magical hour at dusk, I could almost see myself on a surfboard.
That breeze is the music of La Luz, an all-girl, four piece surf rock band from Seattle. Their two-and-a-half minute pop ditty “Sure As Spring,” has been turning through my mind’s ear for months. The band brings subtlety and intricacy to what might be rock music’s most buffoonish style. The wonky guitar riffs, rapid fire beats, and keyboard organ solos weave in and out and around each other, and combine with the four-part harmonies to create a full and complete sound. Shana Cleveland’s vocal style has a certain lazy boredom to it, as if Daria had moved west after high school, dated a few losers, and then decided to front a band.
The song’s lyrical premise: a woman has taken a man for granted, lost him, and now regrets it, turns a pop music song cliché on its gonads. Cleveland concisely accepts the inevitability of change (“As sure as spring/Coats our little piece of land in green/The turning earth takes all of what it brings”) and sounds committed more to her wanderlust than her regret.
Things really start to get good during the brief instrumental, when Cleveland takes her six string out for a short spin before turning things over to keyboardist Alice Standahl, who channels her inner Booker T. Jones and makes me want to dance around like a little boy who polished off his mom’s wine at a wedding reception.
La Luz further showcases their vocal and instrumental chops throughout the album It’s Alive. These musicians are most likely bound for big things. I can’t wait until their tour brings them east so I can Watusi the night away at one of their shows.