La Fa Connected - Urban
Record Label: None
Release Date: April 20, 2007
Indie rock from Luxembourg. Has anything ever sounded more promising? Such is the introduction to the band La Fa Connected, who self-released their debut record Urban, last spring. The quartet delivers guitar-oriented music that has a slight Modest Mouse bent but more closely resembles the Alaskan band The Wagner Logic. Lead vocalist Simone Ramos has a tough voice to listen to, and one can wonder if it’s the German accent, a forced attempt at 1970s punk vocal inflection, or just a lackluster ability to sing, but one thing is certain: there’s chronic yelping and a real inability to sing melodically. To put it bluntly, it’s an arduous task to sit through for ten songs.
Urban is not a complete disaster though. Putting aside the vocals, this is highly-skilled, deft guitar playing, complimented by a cohesive rhythm section. Parts of the album successfully channel The Shins and others go after Mock Orange. Opener “Not Yet in Manhattan” has all the right sentiments; in its lyrics, it's hopeful and in its music it’s as breezy and jerky as a New York City cab ride. “Virtual Kiss” has a great story to tell but gets lost in the music and never pans out. “Third Person Monologue” begins with an intro from Sugarcane, the preeminent electronic artist in Luxembourg, and it’s a nice introduction to a catchy and accessible aural nugget. When the song is finished, it's abundantly clear that La Fa Connected has a knack for writing inviting, warm songs that are both skilled and engaging. Fourth song “Swastika Signs” is an attempt at a statement song but unfortunately gets lost in the music. It’s rescued though by "The Taste of a Lifetime” which is one of the album’s better spots. The music trends downward though on “Islandic Winter,” and “Win! Win!,” two of the albums lower moments. Thankfully, it picks up again with the last three tracks but by the time it’s over, inconsistency and disarray have allowed themselves to slither their way around this disc. Oh yeah, and then there's those vocals...
Hopefully, La Fa Connected has a stronger release to follow, because there is certainly potential here. Whether or not the Luxemborgians makes it in either the United States or Europe is still to be determined, but the quality of the guitars and the rhythm section are definitely worth listening to. Few American bands release albums in German and record them for a European audience, so the quartet certainly deserves some nods for stepping outside of the box, and doing something a bit daring. It’d be far easier to release an album entirely in their native German, a la Rammstein, or a disc in a made-up Nordic language, a la Sigur Ros, but La Fa Connected doesn’t do that. Instead they set out to honor the best of American indie rock and while it does falls off in places, it’s an honest and sincere attempt to make music. In the end, that’s really all that matters.