Release Date: Apr 14, 2015
Record label: Western Vinyl Records
Genre(s): R&B, Soul, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Neo-Soul, Alternative Dance, Neo-Disco
I’ve never been there, but from what I can tell in my infallible Internet research, Benton, Mississippi is a miniscule town in the middle of nowhere with population less than that of many large high schools, about an hour north of state capital Jackson. It’s the type of place that one would gather doesn’t see many outside visitors; a place where one could see “Steve Polyester” appearing, fully formed from thin air, one day only to disappear at the peak of the townsfolk’s burgeoning curiosity as vapourously as he’d arrived. Benton certainly wouldn’t seem like a setting for five Brooklyn art/soul/pop/blahblahblah/etcetcetc musicians to light upon for writing and recording an album.
In Ava Luna’s world, half-glimpsed creatures fade into landscapes, labyrinth hallways span for miles, and indie rock embraces soul—the scraggly kind—without the trace of ironic distance. It’s a better world to occupy, really. On the New York group’s third outing, Infinite House, the usual elements are in place: jagged, bone-dry guitars, grooves that are funky but not quite funk, and Carlos Hernandez’s throaty yelp.
On their third full-length, the Brooklyn quintet Ava Luna is, as always, toying with a collection of ideas that should not work together in theory. There are traces of genres they’ve already spent some time exploring: British post-punk, '70s soul and funk, late '60s krautrock. The band recorded Infinite House in wildly different environments—Benton, Mississippi and Brooklyn—which serve as central and opposing life forces for the album.
There’s more snarl to Ava Luna this time around, though you wouldn’t pick it up from the breezy single “Coat of Shellac”. It might be the New York five-piece’s most accessible song to date; it fills space that had previously been left open, locking into an airtight bass groove as Felicia Douglass, one of the band’s three singers, takes lead. “This is not about us,” she sings.
There’s nothing immediately appealing about Brooklyn art rock ensemble Ava Luna. The cunning thespians make music that isn’t clearly definable, sometimes even downright ugly, imparting a sense of limitless freedom that is impossible to replicate. Which might as well be the point - this is brainy, calculated pop that knows no bounds, and in between those spazzy time signatures and unflattering soulful inflections lies a vehement desire to really get their funk on.
Brooklyn art funk ensemble Ava Luna were a messy, confusing beast in their earliest times. Following several self-released EPs, their 2012 album Ice Level reached a larger audience, presenting a set of convolutely composed and recorded songs that jumped jaggedly between modes of Dirty Projectors-like vocal harmonies and Timbaland-inspired R&B beats. Wild shifts in song structure and stylistic variations from track to track didn't make things any easier to digest.
The New York band Ava Luna is almost without fail compared with Dirty Projectors — a rock band using some critical distance on the conventions of rock bands, with a gifted, yelpy singer-guitarist, ambitious female singers who use the language of backup harmony but make it count more than that, and a tendency to get piercingly loud for effect. Yeah, well. The differential between the two bands indicates many of the strengths of Ava Luna, especially in its third record, “Infinite House.” Here’s what you get more of with Ava Luna and less of with the other group: a committed belief in dance grooves, a casual interest in harmonic development, an insularity and playfulness, an establishment of a single, real-time band sound.
opinion by SAMUEL TOLZMANN < @scatlint > Odd Future’s gaggle of post-Eminem MCs can sometimes feel like raging ids locked in ugly competition. However, although Earl Sweatshirt’s work on third full-length I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside can sometimes read as less urgently feral or technically accomplished than that of the collective’s de facto ringleader Tyler, The Creator or Earl’s own past releases (the rapping here is about half the speed, on average, of the flow heard on Doris), the more time spent with the record, the clearer it becomes that the MC is simply confident. I Don’t Like Shit moves at a stroll not because it’s lazy but because its creator knows exactly what he’s doing, such that there’s no need to show off.