Call it a multi-culti troupe of witty kids giving that good old American form — rhythm & blues — a good, old college try.
Ava Luna, a New York group, sings together like kids who have done the whole show choir/glee club thing (read: they know the basics of vocal jazz) but needed an outlet to make the music that makes them want to shake their groove things.
The group’s 2012 album, Ice Level, is rich with funky beats, slick, electronic-inspired synth work and fat bass guitar spanks. On its third album, Ava Luna reinterprets R&B as a thinking person’s sexy, pre-house party rev-up.
Opening track “No F” sports jazzy-cool two-part backup harmonies by Felicia Douglass and Becca Kauffman and soulful lead vocals by Carlos Hernandez. The title track is super sexy, thanks to the girls crooning their “ooohs” in the background and Hernandez whipping the melismatics around, singing, “But I don’t wanna sit or I might escape her gaze. And if I could focus, I would know the stronger of us.”
Local jazz geeks and closet R&B freaks are sure to get weak in the knees when the band brings its funk to Denton’s Macaroni Island, a local house show venue that has already stacked up some significant shows since opening last August. Ava Luna plays the venue on Monday night.
But it’s not just the jazz and R&B fans who can dig in to Ava Luna. Noise rock fans and Devo disciples will like the unexpected bursts of guitar distortion and the cheeky, angular synth quips. This is a group that likes an infectious rhythm. “Eight Nine (Won’t You Be Mine) invokes the Dixie Cups’ “Iko Iko,” and Ava Luna’s “Down Right” overlays popping and swishing rhythms. Then comes “A Year of Mirth,” with a creepy synth line and drums right off Radiohead’s page.
Sounds like: TV on the Radio had a low-speed fender bender with Erykah Badu, then shared brewskis over The Belle Album by none other than the Rev. Al Green.
Details: Zorch, Cerulean Giallo, Celestial Shore and Ava Luna play at 9 p.m. Monday at Macaroni Island, located on Houston Place. Tips will be taken for the touring bands. For more details, visit the venue’s Facebook page at http://on.fb.me/V8Ly9I .
— Lucinda Breeding