La Luz (The Light) is an all female surf guitar quartet out of Seattle, Washington consisting of guitarist Shana Cleveland, drummer Marian Li Pino, keyboardist Alice Sandahl, and bassist Lena Simon. The band was formed in 2012 with original bassist Abbey Blackwell who left the band in 2014 and was replaced by Simon. Both of their albums It’s Alive (2013) and Weirdo Shrine (2015) have received critical reviews. Most recently they made Spin’s list of “SXSW 2016: The Five Best Things We Saw on Day Three.”
The band’s sound is, in their description, “surf noir”, greatly influenced by earlier artists such as The Ventures and Dick Dale. Here they are performing “You Disappear,” which starts out with dynamic “Secret Agent Man” surf guitar supported by a rhythm section of driving drums and supportive bass, all leaning forward over a solid foundation of soul-influenced organ. Above it all we are greeted with sparkling female harmonies, with Shana Cleveland’s vocals out front, that convey pop-inflected songs with deceptively simple lyrics that convey a depth of emotion that is at the core of the song. This is nothing less than great musicianship and songcraft.
Thanks to the indispensable KEXP for this and other essential live sessions.