We spend our days at war
and our nights in love
No gods, no masters now
Lauren Lakis has transitioned from the rhythmic pulses of Baltimore to the sprawling expanses of Los Angeles, with her music encapsulating the city’s unique blend of hope and nihilism. Lakis’s work, characterized by its unfiltered, mysterious, and deeply impactful quality, represents a significant shift in the current shoegaze scene. Her latest release, “A Fiesta and a Hell,” delivers an emotionally charged punch, distinguished by its unadorned authenticity.
In the first strains of Watch You Run, there’s an initial languid procession reminiscent of a mournful lament, which then unexpectedly bursts forth into a cascade of shoegaze-inspired guitar riffs. Lakis’s vocal timbre evokes nuances of Shirley Manson, and as the chorus unfolds, one is transported to a scene that feels like it could be plucked straight from David Lynch’s oeuvre—a chanteuse serenading an intimate gathering of surly teens at the Twin Peaks Roadhouse.
The emotional Take My Hand is a fervent plea for connection and understanding, emphasizing the desire for companionship. Throughout the song, there’s a recurring theme of simplifying needs, emphasizing togetherness and carving out one’s own path, separate from societal expectations.
In Terror Tears, Lakis paints a vivid picture of societal disenchantment. The heart of the narrative beats around the fusion of spoon-fed dogma and standing tall against capitulation. The song is a potent rallying call, merging the energetic pulse of 80s punk, shoegaze, and goth rock with intense drumbeats and her vocals and guitar work bathed in echoey reverb.
You Keep Your Woman Down smoulders with an intensity that is both fervent and subtly menacing. Conjuring the ambiance of a classic spaghetti western, its looming guitar strums command attention. As the song unfolds, it begins with the hushed intimacy of an almost whispered secret, gradually guiding listeners through a rhythm that’s deliberate, yet imbued with a sense of grandeur. This evolution in sound suggests a dawning realization, with each refrain echoing like a mantra, as if seeking to convince its very singer of its truth.
Loud Voices shifts gears, evoking the nostalgic strains of a perhaps forgotten Liz Phair melody. It delicately balances on the knife’s edge between Riot-Grrrl ferocity and those lucid, introspective epiphanies at life’s intersections. The enveloping wash of shoegaze guitars serve not just as an accompaniment but as profound exclamation points, underlining the track’s depth of feeling and its profound pathos.
Leave Your Window Open delves into the deep currents of yearning and fragility, conjured by imagery of ajar windows and an aching wish for reconnection. The vocalist’s unwavering devotion and the surrender of self are poignantly underscored, as they pledge a lifetime’s allegiance to the cherished subject of their ardour.
The record concludes with several remixes for Terror Tears, Take My Hand, and Keep Your Woman Down.
“A Fiesta and a Hell” was put to tape in Austin, Texas, with the artistic hand of Modern Medicine (Wild Child, Josie Lockhart) at the production helm. The record was then refined through the mixing skills of Elliott Frazier from Ringo Deathstarr and mastered by the esteemed Christopher Colbert, whose resume includes works with Mazzy Star, Starflyer 59, and Leon Bridges. The album is out now via Green Witch Recordings (Pearl Earl, Pale Dian, Timothy Eerie).
Lakis and her ensemble have made their mark across the West Coast and Texas, performing alongside renowned groups like Ringo Deathstarr, Holy Wave, and Sea Wolf. Recent highlights include captivating sets at The New Colossus Festival in Manhattan, Dum Dum Fest in LA, and a memorable appearance at SXSW. Before the pandemic, they drew crowds at venues like the Doug Fir Lounge and The Catalyst Santa Cruz, collaborating with acts like Flor and Winnetka Bowling League. Moreover, Lakis displayed her individual prowess in a performance with rock luminary, Tracy Bonham.
A Fiesta and a Hell is available digitally and via cassette.
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