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Ava Luna: Electric Balloon

Ava Luna

Brooklyn five-piece Ava Luna may describe their music as “nervous soul”, but in comparison to 2012’s frustratingly chaotic Ice Level, their sophomore album Electric Balloon (out March 4 through Western Vinyl) sounds supremely confident. If that record felt like at times like a sketch-book, full of interesting doodles and exciting ideas waiting to be developed, then this is the finished picture, a vibrant piece of New York pop-art (pop) celebrating the ‘70s glory days of the city’s eclectic downtown music scene by mashing up its component parts – CBGBs punk, mutant disco, free jazz, funk rock etc. – and giving it a slinky, soulful spit-shine. With three vocalists – bandleader Carlos Hernandez, Becca Kauffman and Felicia Douglass, whose father Jimmy has produced artists as diverse as Gang Of Four and Justin Timberlake, and also assisted with the recording of this album – sharing the spotlight, cynics might be tempted to prematurely write Ava Luna off as Dirty Projectors copyists, but whilst some similarities are undeniable (“PRPL” sounds like a fairly blatant attempt at a “Stillness Is The Move”-style R&B diva ballad) the band owe no more to Dave Longstreth’s project than they do to Talking Heads or James Chance & the Contortions, groups that would make your body move involuntarily towards the dancefloor even as your brain tried to work out what the fuck it was hearing. So we get elastic grooves and jagged guitars (“Daydream”), strutting funk and no-wave yelps (“Sears Roebuck M&Ms”, “Electric Balloon”), slow-burning doo-wop prog-rock (“Crown”) and electro-fried Afrobeat (“Judy”), all wrapped around a core of weirdo brainiac pop that (excuse the cliche) amounts to more than just the sum of its parts; more importantly, we get a band who have learned how to self-edit and work a mess of half-formed ideas into a coherent full-length statement. That’s progress, and progress calls for celebration, so straighten your skinny tie, clear the floor and shake your thing to “Daydream”, below.


About foamhands

My name is Michael Dix; I'm a decade or so past being down with the kids, but to me new music never gets old. Apparently I like music that sounds like faulty kitchen appliances and ritual slaughter; really I just like what I like, whether that happens to be indie, pop, punk, hip hop, metal, electronica, Afrobeat or jazz. Follow me on Twitter @FoamHandsBlog to receive notifications of new posts and the occasional random brain-fart, and please share links wherever you can. Enjoy!

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