White Heat at Madame JoJo's
The clear message from La Sera’s debut album of 2010 is that Katy Goodman (also of Vivian Girls) has been gunning for what can only be worryingly described as a more “mature” sound. That’s not to say I don’t like it; I do. Maybe I’m more mature now. I mean, I have cats, but the last thing I’d want to see is Katy sat on a stool crooning through some folky guff to a professional backing band. As well as being dull, that kind of reminder of my own mortality and overdue departure from youth is the last thing I need.
Fortunately I needn’t have worried. Tonight Katy is as bouncy and charming onstage as ever, and her band walk the line of ramshackle professionalism with ease. My brain doesn’t once drift off to ponder whether or not I have remembered to feed the cats.
“We’re La Sera and we’re from California,” announce the band, and as throwaway as that sounds it’s actually quite significant. On record, they plough a particular vein of indie pop influenced by classic west-coast 60s music, but live, without a backing vocalist and a guitar duo not really able to recreate the texture of the recordings, it all starts to sound a little flat. It’s a shame, as when it goes right, like when the band break into ‘Devils Hearts Grow Old’ – a beautiful Cocteau Twins and Pixies sprinkled tune – it manages to completely lift itself away from its influences and sounds incredibly special.
So, you may have noticed that I complain about the band being too mature, before slating them for not being mature enough, but I think that about sums it up. La Sera are neither the lo-fi pop of the Vivian Girls, nor the west-coast lushness of their record. They could develop into something great, but it takes commitment to make a project as ambitious as La Sera work. Maybe they should get some cats together.
By Olly Parker
Originally published in issue 25 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. February 2011