Tuesday, November 29, 2011

La Strada Make A New Home

Formed in early 2007, Brooklyn band La Strada made a quick name for themselves through their crazy live shows involving string players and a horn section. Two years later, the band dipped its toes in the proverbial record pool and released the their self-titled debut EP. While that EP didn't include the band's live set up it demonstrated La Strada's ability to create artful pop that was just as intense. A year on from that release La Strada have recently signalled their return by diving headfirst into the same pool once again and emerging with their debut album, New Home, clenched in their fists.

Unlike their EP, New Home takes their recorded sound and fuses the intensity and depth of their live shows to achieve something that sounds as if the Decemberists and Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah were partners in crime. In other words, La Strada have written an arty, intellectual pop album that's a bit quirky at times but for the most part is a jaunty trip down indie pop lane. The strings and horns that feature so prominently in their live performances are given a workout on New Homeand add drama, dimension, and a wonderful palette of sounds that make La Strada sound gargantuan and nearly symphonic. This is worldly, spirited stuff that's got to keep moving and for the most part it does just that.

Never sitting still for too long, the band takes after it's own lyrics and allows itself to experience musical wanderlust. With songs at times sounding like something out of a traditional Yiddish songbook or from the Great White North, it becomes glaringly obvious that La Strada are a band open to just about anything in the musical world. I'm not sure it's safe to say that La Strada are experimental because so much of New Home is actually hummable and well good, but they most certainly are influenced by a wide range of cultures and try their damnedest to bring that to each and every one of their songs. The result of all are songs that seem as though they've been around the world in 80 days and have so many stories to tell that they can barely contain themselves much less condense it all into a single moment or album.

La Strada have truly outdone themselves here. The songs on New Home are incredibly strong, distinct, and very, very good. In fact, New Homeis the sound of a band making leaps on their fourth album not their first and La Strada have proven themselves to be exceptionally complex and prolific when it comes to writing pop music. This is a band that clearly gets it and whether it's because they've bonded during live performances that made them or the fact that they just don't sound American at all, they've come up with a fantastic album that's a breath of fresh, spring (pollen-free) air.

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