Saturday, December 20, 2014

La Cerca "Sunrise For Everyone" on Fort Lowell Records

There are records that grab you and shake from the first track demanding all your attention whether you like it or not. Then there are those records that sneak up on you getting better over time, revealing themselves after multiple listens. Sunrise for Everyone on Fort Lowell Records is an understated album that's been expertly crafted not to be auspicious or trendy but to exist in a comfortable place created by a satisfied artist. It's the perfect soundtrack to a weekend afternoon, like Sonny and the Sunsets Tomorrow is Alright, a little bit hard to explain without putting the time in.

The first track, "Arizon" is a perfect example of the Sunday afternoon feel they'll return to over and over. Even when they eventually rise to wind carved plateaus, it's from a fisheye lens on a bird just around sunset. They have strong ties to Real Estate's laid back sound especially in a bass line that rolls in like tiny Jersey lake waves. Andrew Gardner's vocals come from a high register place like A.C. Newman accompanied by a half indie jangle, half '70s solid gold sound with the slightest momentum. Like other laid back rock I find myself continuing to turn to years later, Lambchop or American Music Club, this is serious songwriting that emerges from intense skill and dedication making it out of his first few bands with a sense of who he was and what he wanted to sound like. Andrew almost crosses the edge of his range in the chorus of "Climate Control" because that's where the track wanted to go. He's not forcing anything with an uncompromising hand into a predetermined pop structure. Like in skillfully adding backing vocalists on the title track from different sonic spaces bringing together an exalted choir sound in lyrics about a 'sunrise for everyone'. "The First One" builds on the previous tracks emotional rise and ends up beating this gentle tom rhythm under a picked sustained melody and layered vocals from Andrew working in dense harmonies that wrangle themselves into a heavier tempo chorus, it's the perfect end to this side. A melancholy ride home in the early morning with gold atmospherics that seem to gradually pick up steam and pace as it heads out over the horizon.

On B-Side's "Sorry XO", a country guitar with background slide work ends up not having a hint of country in it and continues to float along with familiarity and a chorus that's immediately catchy. It doesn't take more than one listen for the "Sorry / XO Sorry / XO" to stick with you. The track picks up in the middle of every measure with a long distance see saw that crests ever higher. They manage to take this upbeat sounding track and give it a sad undertone of distortion - this is an apology after all. There's a lot of planning without ever feeling overworked or pulling out every trick to distract from exactly what's going on. "Weather Festival" reminded me of The Ocean Blue's first self titled record, always subtly changing, impossible to note the moment it's slipped into a new tempo with mellow, dreamlike precision. The guitars start to make themselves known in this heavier chorus with fits of starts and stops uncharacteristic for the band but it's some kind of catharsis. They need to get the final traces out before settling in for the epic track that's "Mountain Villager". Tuscon, AZ has been quietly harboring the kind of insane talent in La Cerca that Fort Lowell Records has again recognized with this release.

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