The Upshot: Most promising debut of the year thus far is steeped in roots-rock tradition while staking a claim to a sound wholly the band’s. Below, check out the group’s first video, too.
BY FRED MILLS
The Los Angeles roots movement of the ‘80s, which featured cowpunks Rank & File, retro-rockers the Blasters, and swamp-noir terrorists the Gun Club, can be viewed nowadays as something that had to happen if the subsequent alt-country, proto-Americana national scene of the ‘90s would emerge. Echoes of those groups and their peers continue to reverberate through our contemporary landscape, and the band at hand is not only emblematic but can claim a direct lineage: the titular LP III is none other than Louie Perez III, who of course is the son of Louis Perez Jr. of Los Lobos, another band that originally came from that same L.A. scene.
Perez (Guitar, Vocals), is joined by Ruby Rosas (Bass, Vocals), Eric Fuller (Drums, Percussion), Carlos Guzman (Guitars), and Mike Berault (Keys, Accordion); you might recognize one of those other names as the daughter of Los Lobos’ Cesar Rosas. Together, the musicians do indeed channel the aforementioned icons while staking a claim to a sound that is wholly theirs. Several of the best tracks—the revved-up, slide guit-fueled punkabilly of “City of Drums” (which practically screams to have the late Jeffrey Lee Pierce to jump in with a “I was all dressed up like an Elvis from hell!” line); Latin-tinged, spaghetti western rocker “Southland Hum,” Phil Spectorish twang anthem “When I Told You”; the strummy, harmonies-rich folk-rock of “Uneasy Street”—make their stylistic allegiances clear, yet they also are so earworm-rich that you’ll quickly be adding them to your own Americana-tilting playlists. No copycatism, in other words, on this superb debut, one which holds as much promise for the future as any record this year.
Upstart Orange County label Maplewood, founded in 2014 by Ian Capilouto, has gone the extra mile with Southland Hum, too, pressing it up on limited-edition purple/blue colored vinyl. It’s a gorgeous piece of wax, indicative of the sonic beauty its grooves contain. Color me impressed—and a fan.
DOWNLOAD: “When I Hold You,” “Southland Hum,” “City of Dreams”