For La Sera’s fourth album, ex-Vivian Girls musician Katy Goodman takes the old-school route. ‘Music For Listening To Music To’ is an all-analog force, a reminder of music’s ability to strike gold without any gimmicks or fancy concepts.
The record saw Goodman collaborating with her newly-wed Todd Wisenbaker. Ultimate analog geek Ryan Adams was at the production helm, too. “Timeless” would be an understatement. This is a record that borrows punk thrills from previous La Sera LP’s, but everything’s tied together by a classic-rooted aesthetic. It could exist as a timestamp of previous decades or a bright glimpse into the present day, depending on your perspective.
Below, Goodman and Wisenbaker have kindly put together a track-by-track guide for their new record. That’s awfully nice of them. What’s more, they’re also sharing an exclusive stream of ‘Music For Listening To Music To’ (UK listeners only). Give it a play below.
Katy - I wrote this song about coming to terms with the fact that I have a high pitched, very effeminate voice. For a lot of my life, I mainly listened to music where the singer (male or female) was shouting, and I was always really jealous of that ability. If I even attempt it, I lose my voice almost immediately! I wrote this song because eventually I was like ‘fuck it, you have to use what you've got, and make it your own!’ This album is the first time I've ever been really proud of my voice, so I wrote an ode to that feeling.
Todd - Musically I was going for a clean rockabilly-ish vibe, with a country lick to kick things off. Very 60s Jazzmaster tone with a greaser drumbeat.
A Thousand Ways
Todd - Katy and I wrote this song together at the same time - it sort of reminds me of a Sandy Shaw singing ‘Hand in Glove’ vibe. The key change in the end was something I really wanted to put somewhere on the record, big fan of all the 60s Nashville sound, and all those songs have the best dramatic key changes. That’s Ryan at the last chorus on pump organ!
One True Love
Katy - This was the first song that we wrote for the album... Todd and I were sitting in bed, and he had written the main riff and was playing the chord progression. He started singing the verse and then I started singing the chorus! It came together like magic, and was the inspiration for all of the rest of the songs on the record. This was when we realized how easy it could be to just sit around together and write an album.
“This album is the first time I’ve ever been really proud of my voice.”
— Katy Goodman
Begins to Rain
Katy - I wrote this song about a... tense friendship that I have been working through. Todd added a lot to it, including the cool stops in the choruses, and the Elliot Smith-y outro. Ryan was the one to come up with the amazing guitar tremolo swells.
Take My Heart
Todd - Katy wrote this one strumming on an acoustic guitar. I swapped out some of the chords for a more aching and longing feel and we made it a waltz. Probably my favorite song on the record.
Katy - This song is about letting your guard down. It's a sort-of response to our older song ‘Break My Heart’, after which the character has moved on from an old heartbreak and is becoming vulnerable with someone new.
I Need An Angel
Todd - This one started with the riff and was the last song we wrote for the record. Sort of going for Dwight Yoakam meets The Smiths meets The Gun Club. I hadn't intended to sing the chorus but Katy didn't like how she sang it so it was given to me. Katy thinks it sounds like Led Zeppelin.
Katy - I do think it sounds like Led Zeppelin and I love it. It's my favorite new song to play live.
Time to Go
Katy - I wrote this song about a fictionalized encounter with an antagonistic friend. I am really proud of this one, one of my favorites on the record. The overall sound and frantic energy of it was definitely inspired by 50s rockabilly.
Todd - Hectic rockabilly with slide guitar and tele licks played on a Les Paul, whats not to love?!
Shadow Of Your Love
Katy - I came to Todd with just the chorus, and he wrote the verses and epic outro. This song is another one of my favorites on the record, something about it always just sticks with me for a while.
Todd - Chet Atkins or Merle Travis guitar picking and I'm pretty sure I stole the line "pedal steel plays" from an old country song. Just an epic way to set a scene of sadness. Ryan had the idea of the harmonics at the end.
Todd - I wrote this on an acoustic guitar, the chords had a sad nostalgic feel to them so I wrote the lyrics that I saw fit. Ryan had the idea of the synth and I was definitely going for an Andy Rourke bass line.
Too Little Too Late
Katy - I wrote this song on acoustic guitar right before we recorded the album. I really like the lyrics I wrote, and the treatment that Ryan and Todd gave to it. We kept it simple and straightforward. It's just a sad song, and it feels that way.
La Sera's new album 'Music For Listening To Music To' is out 4th March via Polyvinyl.
More like this
The new EP of the same name comes out on 30th September.
For an overwhelming portion of this Ryan Adams-produced record, La Sera just sound a bit too polite.
The latest cut from new album ‘Music For Listening To Music To’ is streaming first on DIY.
‘Music for Listening to Music to’ is out next March.