The dark twang of Seattle's La Luz

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On their recent debut album, It's Alive (Hardly Art), the young Seattle foursome La Luz baldly ape various styles of the past—instrumental surf guitar, the 60s girl group, garage rock—but magically churn out a charming, infectious sound that's all their own, shuffling bits of those sources into something fresh. "Sure as Spring," the album opener, starts with a "Wipeout"-grade drum fill and a reverb-drenched guitar lick purloined from Dick Dale by Shana Cleveland. Once the dreamy vocals drift in, though, the song takes on a different feel, with the primitive yet propulsive drumming of Marian Li Pino providing frenetic energy on the one hand and sweetly cooing vocal harmonies contributing sweetness on the other.

It's hardly an original approach, but just the same it's quickly insinuated itself into my brain, massaged by various dichotomies, especially the energetic rhythms versus the almost sleepy vocal melodies. When the group dives into one of those sources full-on, the results are less satisfying—on the instrumental "Sunstroke," for example, La Luz seems a whole lot more ordinary. Luckily, that only happens a couple of times on the album; more common are songs like the mesmerizing "Pink Slime," which you can hear below. Here the disparate influences coalesce to make each borrowing more effective, and the terse, quick little "ooh-wah" vocal threaded through the song's verses works because it's so subtle and matter-of-fact.

La Luz opens for Of Montreal Wednesday night at Lincoln Hall.

Today's playlist:

Harry Taussig, Fate Is Only Twice (Tompkins Square)
Jimmy Giuffre 3, Trav'lin' Light (Atlantic, Japan)
Ike Yard, 1980-82 Collected (Acute)
Cornelius Dufallo, Journaling (Innova)
Jimmy Heath and Brass, Swamp Seed (Riverside/OJC)

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