By NATHAN SOLIS
Kera and The Lesbians function like a diesel engine, sometimes taking their time to warm up but always efficient at their craft.
Okay, maybe a combustion engine is not the best analogy for this group. But consider this: the vocals and guitar can be loose at times and all the while expanding the core components with heat. Lead singer Kera Armendariz’ voice can teeter on fragile, but she is patient, drawing out her breath and building up to that yell that will tower over keys and guitar strings alike. In other instances, she utilizes a quivering tone that passes fiercely through a song’s landscape.
On Year Past 23 the group possesses a swinging energy that shows off a brightly illuminated arrangement while also displaying a smoldering intensity. Bassist Phil MacNitt carries that swing like a gracious host, placing guitar and vocals on a deep velvet background, allowing the frailty in Armendariz’ voice to better stand out.
There is a word jumble of labels that could apply to the band. Kera and The Lesbians list bipolar folk as one of their genres and certainly the outlines are in the shape of a folk band (shape of a bear, it must be a bear, right?). That argument becomes muddled on NAILBITER a bluesy romp with a plotting drum work from Michael Delaney and accompanying trumpet that lands the band in a seedy hotel bar in a noir paperback.
The genre spectrum for Kera and The Lesbians isn’t the most wildly plotted map. They remind me of Sallie Ford and The Sound Outside with their blues or Fool’s Gold with their vacation pop vibe (think button top/swim trunks). Kera and company know exactly where they’re going on this trip and maybe it isn’t the direct route. Maybe they take the scenic tour and collect some stories along the way.
Kera and The Lesbians will be playing at The Echo in Echo Park on April 3.
Nathan Solis is a Highland Park resident who writes about and photographs the L.A. music scene. You can find more of Solis’ stories, reviews and photos at Avenue Meander.