George Orwell lived through the two worst wars in human history. These were dark times indeed, and his uneasiness for the future of humanity manifested itself in the masterpiece 1984. No one will deny it as a work of genius. Unfortunately though, Mr. Orwell got it completely wrong. The dystopian future he imagined came true, however the public today isn’t apathetic because their access to accurate information is severely curtailed; it’s rather the opposite. There is such an abundance of information out there, and readily available at that, the public has become apathetic due to over-saturation of detail.
While the entertainment industry might not have as far reaching implications as say the geopolitical ramifications of the Arab Spring, or the NSA’s discomfort at being scrutinized themselves for that illegal phone operation they got going on (that’s right better put down the cell and read this article from the protection of your computer) this self-same over-saturation can be applied to music.
Back in 2003 knowledge of a handful of groups, lets say Arcade Fire, Bright Eyes, and the Postal Service meant all them big city cool kids would think you were hip(ster.) Fast forward ten years to the frighteningly advanced year of our lord 2013 and it’s much more complex. Shit, I do this for a living and I couldn’t even begin to tell you what commands respect from people with dumb haircuts these days.
The crux of the problems lies with speed. Yes, the ease and availability of consumption of course, but more so the speed with which music is produced and released. The perfect example: La Vega and their surf rock gem, Waves. Don’t roll your eyes, you’ve never heard of these guys. The duo of Daniel Vega and Evan Magers met way back in the Spring of 2012. In the span of some few weeks they’d produced an EP after a single recording session. From the dim memories of that distant era nearly 15 months ago until today La Vega has seen the fruition of so much hard work with their debut full length from Major Nation Records.
Don’t assume Waves sounds rushed though. Far from it. Equally misleading is iTunes which will file the album under the ‘Surf,’ genre. This too is a mistake. One listen to the album’s single, “Do the Surfer Girl Limbo,” and you’ll think me a fool for that statement owing to the washed out guitar melodies and faux island rhythms. But dig a little deeper into the album, digest it as a whole and you’ll find a wealth of influences and a multitude of directions no 140 character post could ever possibly articulate.
La Vega is a clever group and they know it. Better than this, they treat their audience as if it’s clever too. The Pulp Fiction kitsch of the album opener is immediately dropped on the second track, “Love Ya Self,” and it becomes clear the group’s real strength lies predominantly with melody. The toss away lyrics are lessened to a degree and a Pixies-esque heavy/light contradiction is employed musically. This allusion foreshadows the depth to come.
Skip a track, push up the BPMs and add a frenzied guitar crunch into the mix and if it weren’t for the piano melody you’d think you were listening to an 80’s English pub group. The intensity of the “Key West” breakdown where vocalist Magers’ pleas to “Gimme a minute, just gimme a minute.” is humbling, begging the question, “Since when did surf rock allow for desperation?”
And on and on and on, Waves hits shore in endless opulent layers. Its structure is immaculate yet fluid, and at 13 tracks the album is a veritable feast. Imagine Dr. Dog as the house band for a beachfront tiki bar. Lyrically and musically the range displayed on Waves encompasses the best of both fun and feelings. It’s the perfect party play, entertaining and upbeat enough to serve as background noise to your less enlightened house-guests, but intelligent enough for the esteemed tastes of your favorite college drop out.
Eastasia has always been at war with Eurasia, and you’ll no doubt be ‘so over it,’ tomorrow, but for today La Vega is the most exciting thing happening in music. Don’t overlook Waves in the barrage of new music being piped over the telescreen.