More from Diet Cig

ciggyThis could be a really awesome year for Diet Cig; the duo is already building quite a name for themselves, which is a great deal considering they haven’t even released their EP, Overeasy.  The songs are immediately accessible, and while I can see some similarities to bands like Tegan and Sara or Vivian Girls (minus the wall of noise), but I hear a lot of Juliana Hatfield.  I’m having fun with the lyrical playfulness; they’re relatable, yet they still have a harsh punch for their intended audience.  Look for Father Daughter to release the EP on February 24th.

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La Sera – Hour Of The Dawn

LaSera_LP3Rating: ★★★½☆

It’s been a while since Katy Goodman stepped away from Vivian Girls and out on her own with La Sera. Her last full-length effort, See The Light, came out roughly two years ago and showed a lot of growth for the band and their sound. Now they’re back with album number three, which seems like an overall step in the edgier direction; the jangly pop is now straight rock and roll, harkening back to the original direction that La Sera began with.

“Losing To The Dark,” is the cold open for the album, with squalling feedback entering your ears first and foremost. This changes to some guttural sounding guitar and rapid percussion that gives the song a constant driving beat. Then Katy joins in with her sultry du-wop esque vocals and tops the song off. This track is a nice little introduction whose lingering guitars drive you to charge ahead into the album.What seems to be pretty commonplace now for Goodman and company is crafting catchy songs that adhere to the lo-fi and feminine vocal rock. “Fall in Place” is no exception to this, and the percussion on this song will have you tapping along to the beat and rocking out to the surfy guitars making their way through the percussion.

While song length isn’t necessarily an indication of merit, when you listen to the album, you can definitely get a taste of the different texture that the transitioning lengths of songs gives to the album. Whereas some albums of this genre come across as a little sloppy in that most of the songs are of equal length and get a little lost in the shuffle, La Sera have obviously put a little extra in time and effort into the timing of the album.

At the end of the album you feel fairly satisfied with the level of rock intricate guitar patterns that pervade most songs. While I have found some new catchy tunes to have a place in my listening rotation, it’s easy to get a little weighted down by them at instances in the album. The vocals and the guitars blend together in these instances to become a little too angular. However, this doesn’t completely weigh down Hour Of The Dawn, which has some great tracks to stumble upon.

More New La Sera Tunes

laseraWe’ve definitely got to get you into this new La Sera track.  Now that Vivian Girls are over, Katy can spend her time concentrating on her other project, and this song is an indicator that she’s definitely spent that time well.  This latest single from her forthcoming record has her sounding in complete control of her songwriting craft; there’s a soloing guitar, crashing cymbals, and, of course, her intoxicating vocal performance.  It’s just another reason that we’re expecting great things from Hour of the Dawn when it’s released by Hardly Art on May 13th.


Download: La Sera – Running Wild [MP3]


La Sera Releases New Tunes

Upload_SxSWthoughts_2012_03_14-13_49_12After news of the finality of Vivian Girls, it would only make sense that Katy Goodman and her project, La Sera, would get more of a focus.  She leaked news via a Youtube clip earlier in the week, and now we get our first full listen to one of the tracks.  It’s definitely a more rock n’ roll approach, which fits with Goodman’s known adoration of classic West Coast punk like Black Flag and the Wipers. After hearing this track, we’re completely giddy in anticpation of her new record, Hour of the Dawn.  It’ll see a release of May 13th via the good folks at Hardly Art.

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Dreamy Girl Pop from September Girls

septemberFor those of you looking for someone to temporarily, or permanently, replace your Vivian Girls/Dum Dum Girls fix, there’s no one out there doing a better job than September Girls.  This new tune opens up with this pounding drum, as a washed out vocal enters the fold.  Guitars are lightly dancing around in the background, swinging this dreamy bit of garage-pop our way.  The band’s released a handful of singles with some of our favorite labels, like Matinee, but they’ll be releasing their full length debut on Fortuna Pop in just a short bit of time. We’ll keep you posted, but enjoy this sweet jam.

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The Babies – Our House On The Hill

Rating: ★★★½☆

The project between Woods‘ Kevin Morby and Vivian Girls‘ Cassie Ramone isn’t exactly a new project, but their newest effort for Woodsist seems like the side-project finally got some much deserved focus from the two core songwriters. Our House On The Hill is the perfect execution of sunny pop with a ramshackle approach, giving listeners exactly what we’ve been looking for since we first got wind of the band.

“Alligator” takes aim at my pop-centric heart almost immediately.  A ringing guitar accompanied by Morby’s sunny vocal approach definitely pleases, and when Cassie Ramone comes in for accompaniment midway through the track, I couldn’t have been happier.  It’s a simple tune, with fairly common writing, but it’s just the beginning of the infectious hooks coming from The Babies.  Immediately following you’re greeted by slow-walking, where Morby and Ramone take dead aim at bright pop by trading vocal duties back and forth. This is the track I longed for the group to create!

A few tracks ahead and you enter the realm of perfection with “Get Lost,” one of the standout tracks on Our House On The Hill.  This is definitely Morby’s track, and it’s his vocal performance that steals the show, though the low-key approach of the various verses just builds the tension for the group to blast off into a bliss filled meandering guitar affair to close out the song.  Just because there’s a hit like this laying in the middle of the record, it doesn’t mean there’s not enough interesting tracks to fill out the album exceptionally.

You can take “Mean,” which is mostly a one-man Morby affair, with the singer coming off with hints of Bob Dylan, both in the writing of the track and the vocal delivery.  Ramone’s quieted backing vocals only strengthen the track even more.  There’s also “Baby,” which belongs to Ramone, and definitely wears the mark of her other project, Vivian Girls, though there’s also similarities to Best Coast lurking in its structure and vocal delivery.  These are just a few of the various examples that mark this effort by The Babies, leaving you with an effort that doesn’t really repeat itself, though paces back and forth in similar territory.

Our House On The Hill is all over place, and in saying this, I’m meaning it as a compliment.  In combining the great songwriting attributes of Morby and Ramone, the record never really gets stale, and if anything, it only improves reveals more gems from listen to listen.  Depending upon your mood, you might light the sunny pop elements, but others might find themselves leaning towards the more stripped down tracks like “That Boy.”  Thats precisely why I think The Babies are so successful on this round, doing what they do best on their own terms, and excelling in every way.


Girl Pop from Ali Koehler (Vivian Girls/Best Coast)

It seems like every woman ever connected with Vivian Girls likes to keep herself busy, and Ali Koehler isn’t any different from the rest.  She’s recently recorded this nice little gem for Art Is Hard’s Pizza Club, and it’s quite a nice bit of pop.  It’s not a long track by any means, and it doesn’t really need to be, as the hooks come as soon as Ali opens her mouth.  Sure, you’ll find similarities with the other acts she’s been associated with, but this sounds so much sweeter, in an innocent pop songstress sort of way.  Hope you dig it.


Download:Ali Koehler – Not Like Me [MP3]

Show Preview: Frankie Rose @ Red 7 (4/14)

Date Saturday, April 14th
Location Red 7
Doors  1000 pm
Tickets $8 from Transmission

The former Dum Dum/Vivian Girl Frankie Rose hit the ground running this year with the release of her album, Interstellar.  It showed a definite focus, highlighting Rose’s warm vocals in the gently constrtuced pop structures.  That alone is enough to make you hit up this cheap show, but, you can also catch Dive, a new favorite of ours. The group features members of Beach Fossils, and they should be pushing their upcoming album for Captured Tracks.  Oh, and that’s not enough? Well, catch Cheap Curls…another former Dum Dum Girl kicking off the night.  Seems like a great place to spend a Saturday evening.


Download: Frankie Rose – Know Me [MP3]

La Sera – Sees the Light

Rating: ★★★★☆

In 2011, Katy Goodman stepped away from the Vivian Girls and made her first record under this new moniker. That album was the essence of a dream, with echoes upon echoes of vocals layered on ethereal pop instrumental in the background. A lot must have changed since then; relationships broken, new attitudes adopted, and an overall new sound for La Sera on Sees the Light, a sound which goes in a bold, good, direction.

From the very start of the album you can pick up on the new changes for the band. If it’s any indication of a change, the first track on the self titled release of last year was “Beating Heart,” whereas Sees the Light begins with “Love That’s Gone,” and we have the new, bitter and resolved Katy Goodman. Instantly you can hear this change in the music: the dreamy washes of echo on the vocals are gone, the drums are more centralized, giving a real and solid feel to the song. It’s as if the honeymoon period of dreams is over and what’s left is a woman scorned, trying to move away from the gay melodies of yesterday.

After the first song gets things going on Sees the Light, the second song, “Please Be My Third Eye,” takes it up a notch, increasing the pace and the level of intensity; the drums are always pushing, the guitars are guttural, and Goodman commands the song, pushing it around to show her strength. This strength continues on through the next few songs, and then enters into a more reserved state on “It’s Over Now,” which is the first real breakdown on the album. The placement of this slower, more morose song this far along into the progression of tracks helps to convey some emotion that is perhaps lost on the faster songs; Goodman doesn’t ignore the pain completely, she just channels it in different ways.

Essentially, it’s a break-up album, but whereas most of those tend to linger on the whiny, sorrow-filled, my heart was broken-listen-to-me cry-about-it, songs, La Sera focuses on channeling this sorrow into faster paced, bolder, and overall stronger pop tunes. It’s not a step to weakness, but rather a step away from it, and a focus on the strength that has always lied behind those spunky, girlish vocals. The emergence of this lingering power is what separate Sees the Light from the previous album and allows it to stand as a cohesive album as opposed to a series of cute songs strung together.


Download: La Sera – Break My Heart [MP3]

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