Thursday, January 17, 2008

News:: Highwheel and La Scala get it right

I know that 99.9% of people don't really care about how a record is released. CDs have essentially become a pain in the ass, as digital downloads are more immediate, enjoyable and environmentally friendly. Sure you only get a thumbnail instead of the cover art of a CD, but really unless you are a serious collector, who cares about another disc you never take off the shelf?

That's why I feel like I should talk about La Scala's idea for their new 7" EP. Let's face it, trying to entice casual music fans to buy your record with some extra collectibles is tough. That's why Highwheel records decided to switch it up. When they sent me the new La Scala record, it came with a copy of the CD included.

While this seems like a relatively simple idea (one that has been done countless times I'm sure), it really is a perfect solution. You get the full blown cover art and perfect sound of a vinyl release, the portability of a CD and of course you can rip it down to your computer or Ipod. Highwheel is killing three birds with one stone, satisfying the collector, the sound enthusiast and the convenient listener.

I'm not sure if I would have given this release a listen without the interesting promotional packaging, but it's surprisingly enjoyable. La Scala is, at its core, a rock band. There is some subtle glam touches (Love! Love! Love!), some Eastern Europe gypsy influence (the staccato noise makers that add life to Bon Vivant and Draculina) and more than enough reverb and riffs to keep you nodding along, but from start to finish, this band makes you want to make you dance. They use a big bass line to hook you early on Parallel Lives, then peak the energy with surging vocals, thumping drums and dancing guitars (and some nice tremolo work) and the result is infectious .

When they showcase their darker more obscure influence, like the musical theatre tinge of the catchy, adventurous Bon Vivant, La Scala produces some interesting sounds and for the most part they escape sounding the obvious traps I hear in so many bands playing this style music. It's when they settle for an easy riff that they start to mesh into a more generic sound. The lead single, The Harlequin is probably the least adventurous (although the bouncing bow strokes sound nice) and most listener friendly, but it's the one that leaves me wanting more. Without the risks, you focus on some of the weaker lyrical content (lines like mirror mirror, tell me who I really am).

To be fair, it's a recipe that works, so fans of this style of music should pay attention. For me, I'm more interested in the next La Scala release. They have the talent and sound to make a few minor changes and become a commercial success or start venture into unchartered waters, really let loose and build on the better moments on this record and deliver a solid debut record. I hope for the latter, because I think the listener will get more with every risk they take.

[MP3]:: Parallel Lives

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Posted at 9:15 PM by ack :: 1 comments

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At 10:08 PM, Blogger historyjen did sayeth:

I got myself a copy of the Primordials's 12" vinyl release, Fourteen Prime Numbers, last night. The band includes CDs with the LP too, since, yeah, only die-hard can play vinyl. But the whole thing is just SO beautiful that I really wish I could play the record the old fashioned way.

 

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