Ava Luna Plays Glasslands for CMJ

Seher Sikandar on Wednesday, Oct. 26th

Here’s a band that is going places.  The seven member Brooklyn based Ava Luna is an eclectic mélange of tastiness that one can’t quite pin down as this or that.  Their music sounds like rocked out electro-soul with a cappella worthy harmonics – but it rarely stands still in one place.

Their first album, 3rd Avenue Island, released in August 2009, hinges more on the rock side.  The sound on the record is all about contrast – a quirky mash of various soul styles coupled with a dense, hard rock throb.

Ava Luna’s signature seems to be in the surprising and refreshing a capella style chorus of the three lovely lady vocalists (Felicia Douglass, Becca Kauffman, and Anna Sian), which cuts through and shines amidst the many varied stylings of their repertoire.

The group’s second project, released January 2010, is a 4-track EP called Services.  Short and sweet, Services leaves an undeniably strong impression.  Less rough around the edges than 3rd Avenue Island, the work shows refinement in the band’s sound with a more harmonious blend of styles. To me, Services is a much more palatable project – the overall feel is soulful and electronic, and uses what I find to be a “just right” dashing of a now toned down rock vibe.

Also striking on the EP is lead vocalist Carlos Hernandez, who seems to have really found his voice on this project.  Here, Hernandez’s  delivery is tighter, more intentional, and holds a moving character reminiscent of The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach.

The energy was in full effect this past Friday at Ava Luna’s Glasslands CMJ showcase in Williamsburg.  A packed house of music lovers stood with captive attention on the moodily lit stage.  Ava Luna’s presence was impressively organic and non-pretentious given the palpable, gripping power of their sound.

The scene showed the anchoring girl trio lined up next to each other with an almost doo-wop stage presence, Carlos Hernandez a bit to the side, nonchalantly spilling gorgeous sounds into the mic with his deft range, and Ethan Bassford (bass), Julian Fader (drums), and Nathan Tompkins (synths) tucked in the back driving it all with the irresistible, colorful production and instrumentation.

It was an amazing night and those that missed Ava Luna might want to go ahead and feel sorry for themselves – really.

Corey McCall with the video game controller that measures the level of excitement in the player. Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service

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