People who stand up against the hegemony of the English language in rock music have always had my special interest. Something that has led me to possess a strange affinity for Argentinian bands, all of whom, by rule of thumb, seem to sport some sort of originality that I can’t find with their Occidental counterparts. Hearing that La Mar came from Venezuela made me jump in my seat, because I was really excited by what interesting sounds could be bringing to the table.
With “Tides”, it doesn’t take long for the listener to comprehend what La Mar are doing. From the first listen, the band’s second outing has become an album that makes me want to move, it’s an album that actually makes me happy. “Compass” just has a little groove going that makes your body bob, after which an enchanting “Rebelle” makes you forget all your affairs and jump around the room like a child.
RELEASE DATE: 20 July 2014 | LABEL: Independent
“Wanderlust” however, starts the album off on a lower tempo. After about four minutes the guys from La Mar seem to find their posture and the record takes off. This is where the drums come to their full right for the first time and they are surprisingly metallic, adding a great deal to the already energetic songwriting. The playing is typical for high-energy rock with a lot of snare-hitting, and on the fast parts, it makes me think of the super trooper-bravado that Mike Portnoy displays in his current work with Neal Morse and Flying Colors.
Even though I got a certain feeling for “Tides” from the moment I first heard the album, it did take me a while to figure out the individual parts and songs within the picture. The quieter parts need some attention from the listener before they totally sink in, but they are expressive enough for La Mar to be worth their name. The flat production causes a great deal of pain here as the louder parts that surround these moments of serenity tend to disappoint somewhat in comparison. The mix lacks reverb which prevents the individual instruments from interweaving and superposing, making the outbursts that are so typical to the post-rock genre less of a thrill.
“Tides” as a whole is a really fun album to listen to and it’s quite a diverse listen as well. Songs like “Guarimba” and “Rebelle” play with influences from more energetic rock acts like Savages, while the latter song, with its French vocals, instils me with childhood memories of playing the greatest hits of Dutch pop-group Het Goede Doel at my parent’s house. Later on in the album, “Flips” sports a cool trumpet solo, and with its refreshing reggae tones, it definitely is the best song on the album in terms of production. The epic “Diaspora” that ends the album clocks in on 11 minutes and with the appearance of some harsh sludge metal vocals it reminds me again of some the Argentinian bands I know. What warm feelings!
“Tides” is a bit of a grower when it comes to remembering and appreciating the appeal of individual songs on the album. In the end however, La Mar have come up with a really decent second outing. It’s an album with a distinct sound that contains a lot of joy and energy, and it’s definitely beneficial to those who spend enough time getting to know the album.
P.s.: The press kit included a set of rather cool, minecraft-like pieces of art made by Alfredo Castillo who goes under the nom de plume Ctrl+Z (pronounce “controlpluszeta”). We’ve included them in a little slideshow above for good measure.