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Loretta – The Translation
by antiGUY

Five Star: A look at albums that are so good that they impress even the most cynical of critics. Very few albums are superior enough to obtain a five star rating but occasionally a band slips through the river of mediocrity that is the modern music industry and they produce an album that restores our faith in the future of rock! This series is a look at such albums. 

From America’s heartland comes an indie rock jewel by the name of Loretta. No, Loretta isn’t a female singer/songwriter; it’s an alternative rock band out of Indianapolis that has it well within their grasp to earn the town a place on the rock n roll roadmap. 

To be perfectly honest, most independent label bands are on indies for a reason, they are just not ready for primetime or they don’t really stand out from the pack--Not so with Loretta. In fact, they are rather the ideal that most people like to think of when they want to point to the quintessential indie band vs. major label fluff. A group with tons of integrity, musical ingenuity, a vision that sets them apart from the other bands battling for the public’s attention, and a group that given the opportunity, could really leave their mark on music. 

I know it sounds like a lot of hot air and typically, I’m as cynical as the next guy, but let me tell you how I came to see Loretta in this light. My editor handed their CD off to me with a group of others. He’s a pretty good judge of my taste, so I don’t preview the discs before I take on the responsibility of reviewing them. When he gave me Loretta’s CD, I figured they were just another indie rock band and I’d end up doing a quick write up in the “To The Point” series. A few weeks went by and my editor asked me when he could expect a review. I read between the lines with that request and knew that he expected a full-length review. So, I told him to give me a week. Most of the week passed and then this morning at 2:00 am, I remembered that my deadline had come and gone. I figured I could give the disc a listen and crank a review out in no time. But when I pressed play and the first song started playing, I knew that wasn’t gonna happen. I pulled the disc out of my portable player next to my PC and went out on my back patio, grabbed my headphones, put the disc into my stereo and pushed play and took a musical journey courtesy of Loretta.  

Under the backdrop of a brilliant springtime sky filled with stars, a pack a smokes at my side and a nice beverage in my hand, I learned with each passing song just how wrong I was when I figured that Loretta was just like any number of indie releases that land on my desk every month. This was something special, and an album I knew that I’d still be listening to a few years down the line. 

Now that you have learned more about me than you could possible care about, let’s move on to what we are here to discuss—Loretta! 

Song placement can make or break an album and Loretta were genius to start things off with ‘1000 lbs’. The song immediately grabbed my attention and let me know that I was in for something a little different from today’s modern rock mainstream. The song fades in with a lead bass line that gives way to a rich harmony vocal line, then the guitars kick in momentary leading us to the first verse. The song is a new headphone classic because of all the activity going on. The group bio boasts of three guitar tracks and you definitely get to hear all three. Most bands couldn’t pull this off without sounding muddy, but producer Ken Lewis (David Byrne, Soul Asylum, Public Enemy) knew exactly what he was doing. The song structure differs a bit from your standard “verse, chorus, verse” and while this song doesn’t have a definable hook, it still has a captivating quality to it that evokes a feeling of floating. But the real selling point is the dynamics between the multilayered tracks. It’s beautifully done and makes the songs that much richer in the process. 

You’re likely to hear a dozen different comparisons to other bands ranging from Radiohead to Sunny Day Real Estate, even elements of the late 80s alternative sound. That is perhaps by design; the band admits that they love the alternative rock of the late 80s and early 90s. I hear other elements as well. Vocally, the band is a cross between Tories / Avion frontman Steve Bertrand and Bono. At the more dynamic points, the vocals sound a bit like Chris Paul Overall, formerly of Wonderlove and a little bit of The Smiths. 

Musically, they too sound like The Tories, except with more depth. They also creep into early Collective Soul territory; especially the guitar riffs (listen to the part where the lead guitars kick in before the first verse on “The Fire,” that could have come directly off of “Hints, Allegations and Things Left Unsaid”. Incidentally, like Collective Soul, Loretta's lineup includes brothers.) At other times, they are firmly in the classic alternative rock category. And that’s really where Loretta seem to land musically, a band that bridges late 80s alternative with early 90s power-pop and modern rock, creating a new musical powerhouse for the early 21st century. 

Each track on the album gives a unique perspective of the overall Loretta sound, and they definitely do not bore us with repetition. This makes it difficult to select standout tracks, since most stand on their own. To coin a corny cliché’, this CD IS all killer and no filler. 

Loretta have a great pop sensibility without being sugary and the multi-points of musical reference give them a depth missing from most of today’s modern rock stars. They really shine when they merge the best parts of their influences, and the final result is a distinctive sound of their own. Unfortunately, we simply do not hear albums or bands of this quality that much these days. That’s bad news for us, but good news for Loretta and those that have the good fortune of discovering them. A big standing O for the band and also for the person at Benchmark Records that had the vision to sign them. There aren’t many albums out these days that justify lightening your wallet but I venture to guess that for most people this CD would fall into the category of the best $15 buck you ever spent. Don’t take my word for it, check out the link below and go listen for yourself.  

More Info 

Loretta – The Translation

Visit Benchmark Records to listen to tracks from the CD and get more info on Loretta

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