Loretta – The
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
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.
– The Translation
Benchmark Records to listen to tracks from the CD and get more info on
this CD online
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