BY FRED MILLS
There’s a musical flourish coming about two and a half minutes into “Sunrise For Everyone,” the title track of Tucson group La Cerca’s new vinyl (also digital) album, that provides a small but telling glimpse into what makes the band tick and also what potentially makes this the feel-good album of the summer—if not the entire year. Following a low-key intro powered by a subtly urgent guitar jangle and pulsebeat-thrumming bass, the band expertly springboards off the tune’s dynamic and into a starburst of ecstatic strums, pounding percussion and joyous “ba ba da baaaa…” voices. That they do it again later in the song, this time with peppy horns playing the aforementioned vocal line, only serves to cement the melody and rhythm in the listener’s mind, already primed by the optimism suggested by the songtitle.
It’s as if every great indie pop band you might care to cite, from Big Star to Yo La Tengo to Galaxie 500 to all the classic Flying Nun bands (Clean, Verlaines, etc.) of yore, had held a summit in order to formally pass the torch to this small band of Arizonans.
High praise, indeed—bordering on, I realize, hyperbole. That those legendary groups are among my favorites and that they seem to share a deep musical kinship with La Cerca mainman and songwriter Andrew Garder, however, only bolsters my critical regard for the music he and his compatriots create. Every track here bears sonic fruit: the swing, swagger and serendipity of the reflective, pedal steel-inflected “Sorry XO”; the stately tumble of the almost gospellish “The First One”; the angular and elegant extended jam that is “Mountain Villager,” what with its Television-meets-John-Fahey vibe; and the subtly majestic “Weather Festival,” that, incredibly, manages to distill the vicissitudes of desert weather (far more varied than non-dwellers might realize; I lived there for ten years myself, so I understand) into six rousing, dynamics-rich minutes of psychedelic blissout.
(That’s not a stray observation. Point of fact: Gardner recently told BLURT that “I had an idea that I wanted a record to be somewhat weather-related, or atmosphere- related. It’s taking another meaning into desert rock, if you will. We’re making music that is reflective of the land, or the atmosphere. ‘Weather Festival’ is a perfect example: it’s a sunny day and you end up in a very different place. It can change your mind. It can change everything.”)
Singing in a warm, confident voice, Gardner imbues his tunes with a handshake-and-a-hug quality, inviting you to come into his world which, per the album title, is an inclusive one. An array of Tucson musical artisans is part of the extended La Cerca family, ensuring that the sense of collective purpose is palpable. It’s not hard to tell when all the musical pieces of a project came together for its creators; there’s a peculiar quality of simpatico-ness that peeks through, and this holds true even when it’s a project born of darkness (say, Neil Young’s Tonight’s The Night).
This one, though, is all about letting the light shine through, and the resultant glow that accrues. You can keep all your Bryan Adamses and Don Henleys with their weepily nostalgic summer anthems: I’m going for the summer of ’14 and La Cerca’s Sunrise For Everyone.
DOWNLOAD: “Weather Festival,” “Sunrise For Everyone,” “Arizon”
Go HERE to read our recent interview with Andrew Gardner of La Cerca. We’ve also got a spiffy audio track you can listen to while reading.