April 24, 2015

Review: Ava Luna | Infinite House

For the uninitiated considering the group on proverbial paper (is paper still a thing?), Ava Luna should never work. The Brooklyn quintet's principal songwriters have distinctly different approaches to the band's singular, malleable sound! Their most distinctive sonic influences are R&B and soul music, yet they tour primarily with indie rock troupes! Their bass player keeps a robust tour diary centered on the food they eat on the road! Madness! But the band's air-tight and mesmerizing live shows and catalog of next-level recordings -- including last year's dynamite platter Electric Balloon and now Infinite House, a new collection released this week -- are proof-positive that Ava Luna's music is no haphazard, teetering house of cards.

Ava Luna excels at balancing a fluid and grooved sensibility with the noisier, more angular sounds band principals Julian Fader and Carlos Hernandez routinely commit to tape for acts like Grass Is Green, Krill and Palehound whilst working their day-ish gigs engineering sessions at Brooklyn's Gravesend Recordings. Readers will recall we fell hard for the aforementioned and transcendent Electric Balloon [review], and were particularly struck by the nervy and boundless energy of its first side. That the band has turned around a new record as accomplished and unconstrained as Infinite House in a year is a testament to the powerful fecundity of Ava Luna. To our delight and surprise, Infinite House willingly subverts even the expectations created by the prior record, stretching the band's rubbery aesthetic across eleven tracks that subsume influences as disparate as dub ("Victoria") and house music ("Company").

While its horizons are more expansive and the no-wave and punk undertones of last year's excellent record are smoothed over, Infinite House is no less engaging and beguiling. Where Electric Balloon erupted out of the gate with "Daydream," a whirlwind art-funk number that's probably the band's most pronounced Talking Heads homage, Infinite House commences with the thrillingly unhinged and aforementioned "Company." The at-times cacophonous tune proffers pulsing, synth-led verses that nod in the direction of Stereolab or even Lali Puna, but willfully decomposes in a series of thuds during the smile-inducing chorus. "Tenderize" ups the funk with plucky bass notes that spangle a wash of guitar chords; the groove slowly unwinds in the tune's final minute in a thoughtful instrumental passage that exudes patience and confidence. The word-jazz, beat bouillabaisse "Steve Polyester" follows, echoes the vibe of classic work by Ken Nordine, and is easily Ava Luna's strangest, most alluring recording to date (a terrific, animated video for the tune was released this week and you can see it here). "Coat of Shellac" -- Felicia Douglas' star turn on the LP which you can stream below along with two other tunes -- is the set's catchiest composition, despite subdued verses held aloft by barely-there guitars and one hell of a bass line.

Infinite House is out now via Western Vinyl, and you can purchase a copy of the collection on LP or CD right here. The band embarks on a protracted tour today, which includes a stop on at O'Brien's in Boston's Allston Rock City Saturday; we've included all of the tour dates below. It is also well worth noting that Mr. Fader recently released to the wilds of the Internerds via Bandcamp a very lively and creative solo collection under the nomme de guerre Um Are; the set is called Child Prodigy and we highly recommend acquiring the paywhutchalike collection right here. -- Dillon Riley and Jay Breitling

Ava Luna: Bandcamp | Facebook | Internerds

04.24 -- Durham, NH -- Wildcat Den
04.25 -- Boston, MA -- O'Briens
04.26 -- New Paltz, NY -- SUNY New Paltz
04.28 -- Philadelphia, PA -- The Pharmacy
04.29 -- Baltimore, MD -- Metro Gallery
04.30 -- Washington, D.C. -- Comet Ping Pong
05.01 -- Richmond, VA -- Gallery5
05.02 -- Raleigh, NC -- Kings
05.03 -- Columbia, SC -- Brookland Tavern
05.04 -- Charleston, SC -- Royal American
05.05 -- Atlanta, GA -- 529
05.06 -- Savannah, GA -- Hangfire
05.07 -- Tallahassee, FL -- All Saints
05.08 -- New Orleans -- One Eyed Jacks
05.09 -- Houston, TX -- Walter's
05.11 -- Tucson, AZ -- Club Congress
05.13 -- Indio, CA -- Coachella Valley Art Scene
05.14 -- San Diego, CA -- Soda Bar
05.16 -- Los Angeles CA -- Pehrspace
05.17 -- Santa Barbara, CA -- Funzone
05.18 -- TBA
05.20 -- San Francisco, CA -- Brick & Mortar Music Hall
05.21 -- Oakland, CA -- 1-2-3-4 Go Records
05.22 -- Portland, OR -- Bunk Bar
05.23 -- Seattle, WA -- Cairo
05.24 -- Olympia, WA -- Obsidian
05.26 -- Boise, ID -- Neurolux
05.27 -- Salt Lake City, UT -- TBA
05.28 -- Denver, CO -- Leon Gallery
05.29 -- Lincoln, NE -- 2SMOOV
05.30 -- Chicago, IL -- Observatory
05.31 -- Detroit, MI -- New Dodge
06.01 -- Milwaukee, WI -- The Villa Terrace
06.02 -- Indianapolis, IN -- Joyful Noise
06.03 -- Knoxville, TN -- Pilot Light
06.04 -- Cincinnati, OH -- The Woodward
06.05 -- Columbus, OH -- Double Happiness

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