With Music for Listening to Music To, everything seems so fresh in spite of it being La Sera’s fourth album. Sure, a lot of images from faded out 8mm family vacation videos are evoked, but for starters, you have La Sera becoming an official duo both creatively and personally (Katy Goodman and Todd Wisenbaker are newlywed). Then, you have Ryan Adams manning production, which is always enough to grab anyone’s attention. Finally, Goodman and Wisenbacker did something a bit unusual – they provided a rundown behind each track of the album to DIY Mag. Makes our job trickier, but so shall it be.
With album opener “High Notes,” rattling cowpunk elbows its way to the front of the line. Goodman mentioned the track is about accepting her struggle with performing high notes, but it seems to carry more to it. It’s seems to be about a self-acceptance that goes above and beyond notes and showing doubters up then leaving town with a head held firmly high. The musical time warp melts into a singer/songwriter, hanging out at the drive-in scene on “A Thousand Ways.” A sense of innocence is captured, but it’s not without its warning signs.
Phosphorescent radiance really starts to shine from that point forward. You can hear La Sera’s punk past, but looking towards the sun is their current destiny. “One True Love” is the type of song you picture people at a beach party in suits playing their music to. It’s a classic tune with a well-known story of love leaving town. Your shoulders and hips get going a bit on the sun-drenched mid-tempo “Begins to Rain,” and “I Need an Angel” hones in on a pulpy, iconoclastic desert imagery that runs a little ragged.
That’s not to say the raucousness of La Sera is buried though. “Time to Go” is some double-time punk goodness in a way that makes you think the honkytonk decided to have a circle pit instead of a line dance. But the comfort of stripping down the elements really does take center stage. “Take My Heart,” a song “about letting your guard down,” lays everything bare before the listener. It acts as the complete and ultimate act of vulnerability and trust – giving away your heart. This is a place where “Shadow of your Love,” and the ghosts within, also resides.
By the end, there’s a sonic dragging of the feet on “Too Little Too Late.” Everyone has their anxieties and realizations, so how do we get through it? And that seems to be the true central theme to Music for Listening to Music To – how to deal with it all.
La Sera’s Music for Listening to Music To is out this Friday on Polyvinyl. Reserve your copy now.
02.03.2016 / By Joey Smith