Audio Mixer: Ty Segall.
La Luz are clearly not afraid to mix things up, taking the reverb-soaked guitars of vintage surf rock, the harmonies of '60s girl group pop, and the simple, revved-up melodies of first-generation garage rock and twisting them together into a sound that miraculously stays true to its influences without sounding like the musicians are struggling to live in the past. La Luz aren't trading in irony or misplaced nostalgia on their second long-player, 2015's Weirdo Shrine -- they've simply appropriated bits and pieces of rock & roll's past the way a kid might build a hot rod out of scattered parts found at a junkyard, and like that hot rod the band has created something that runs like a top and has a personality and swagger all its own regardless of how it was put together. While producer and engineer Ty Segall might have been expected to add some of his own speaker-blowing psychedelia to La Luz's formula on Weirdo Shrine, he's clearly put his own ego on the back burner at the service of the band's own approach, and he's given Weirdo Shrine a sound that's tight and uncluttered but also captures the energy and space of a live performance. The interplay between guitarist and lead vocalist Shana Cleveland, bassist Lena Simon, keyboardist Alice Sandahl, and drummer Marian Li Pino is excellent, just loose enough to suit the often languid mood of the surf-influenced tunes but tight enough to deliver when the band cranks up the amps and makes with the rock. And if the vocals are further back in the mix on Weirdo Shrine than they were on 2013's It's Alive (which was already a bit murky), making it hard to tell just what Cleveland is here to tell us, the harmonies are executed with skill, and the overall vibe is smart without forcing any particular issue. Weirdo Shrine shows La Luz are more than living up to the promise of their early work, and that they're still one of the most interesting and entertaining acts on the Pacific Northwest scene in 2015. ~ Mark Deming