Sees the Light CD
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Too many so-called solo albums feel like the narcissistic star of the piece is staring into a cracked mirror. They simply don't stand up. But not so this collection: Sees the Light (also, apparently, an intentional play on words when you speak its title out loud) is a fully accomplished effort.
La Sera ("the evening" in Italian) is the alias under which Katy Goodman recorded this record. Goodman has a better-known nickname: as Kickball Katy this Brooklynite came to prominence playing bass for Vivian Girls. Though, tellingly, she also fulfils the same duties in a Slits tribute band.
For her second solo outing Goodman mines some of the same slacker seams that Vivian Girls dig away at, but she also puts her own spin on things. Please Be My Third Eye is a down-tuned, super-fuzzy single which has 'radio friendly' written all over it. The specifically medical subject matter of this song is apt – this double physics graduate names Serbian engineer Nikola Tesla as one of her all time heroes. Indeed, in life, the science-loving hipstress effortlessly ploughs her way through many of what had tiresomely been thought of as men's domains, and she stands as both a carrot-topped (and proud of it) style icon to female fans and something of a fantasy girlfriend figure to her male ones.
Elsewhere Goodman mixes the meticulous with the whimsical. And the experiment – conducted with a solid backing band for support – can be judged a success. There are delicate laments such as Love That's Gone and It's Over Now, a Pixies-influenced bottle rocket (Break My Heart), the kind of calypso-flavoured ditty that Zooey Deschanel should be making right now (Real Boy), and a sing-along surf-rock treat in the Best Coast mould (I'm Alone).
If these song titles suggest to you that this is a break-up album in the classic mould, well, it certainly seems that way. But it's unsentimental, never cloying and ultimately breezy. Goodman casts a spell on the listener with Sees the Light. While a woman of science would never believe in anything as unnatural as the supernatural, she does evidently believe in love – and let's hope that she finds it by the next time she records.
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Top customer reviews
Equally at home in their gallery is Brooklynite Katy "Kickball" Goodman, aka the pretty, double physics graduate Vivian Girls bassist and vocalist. Near perfect specimen of the female form therefore, when left to her own devices her solo work is largely as expected, channelling the more pastoral and dreamier sepia tones of the classic Girl group era. This all served Goodman's self-titled debut LP well, culminating in mesmeric if frosty cuts like "Beating Heart".
Sees The Light (in all its homophonic glory) initially seems not to stray far from a winning formula, opening with the sleepy, summery garage jam "Love That's Gone". Quick to blow such presumptuousness out of the water, the catchy single "Please Be My Third Eye" then flexes its muscles with some heavyweight guitar fuzz, tempering the sound with a bed of skittish keys. Also harnessing the frayed power of relative lo-fi is "How Far We've Come Now", which brings to mind jangling memories of both 60s psyche and stoner pop.
Charting a more familiar trajectory, the rather excellent "I Can't Keep You On My Mind" is built on a bread-and-butter garage structure out of which rises a triumphant guitar solo and some supercharged Girl group pop. Next, and in the same comfortable vein, "Break My Heart" offers up a feast of effortless C86ish indie pop.
The breakup bummer "It's Over Now" is suitably downbeat, but perhaps a little too down in the dumps to warrant its inclusion here. Altogether breezier, and fresh to the La Sera sound however is the delicate twee of "I'm Alone" - a more effective echo of which can be heard courtesy of the Tennis-esque "Real Boy", that is if the happy couple were ever to leave their yacht and occasionally venture to the beach.
Goodman has done more than "sees" the light with her sophomore collection, she's anticipated the oncoming summer, capturing the spirit of the season nonchalantly: all its loves, losses and life in general.
Advised downloads: "I Can't Keep You On My Mind" and "How Far We've Come Now".
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
There's not really a bad song on this collection of 10 tracks. At times, Goodman's vocals come across as a little too breathy and detached. Rock-nerds and casual music listeners will find a lot to like here, but there are times when SEES THE LIGHT comes a little too close to pop that it almost feels hollow. With that said, the pop-infusions that these songs have are its greatest strength. Some of the songs here feel more developed than others; songs like "I'm Alone" and "Real Boy" pale in comparison to the rest of the album. They just don't feel like they received the same attention that the rest of the album did.
Fans of Telekinesis, Weezer, or Vivian Girls will love this release. I would recommend sampling this album here on Amazon -- there is a lot to like for most listeners. Recommended highlights to sample: Please Be My Third Eye,How Far We've Come Now,Love That's Gone, and It's Over Now. These songs sound best in a car or any brand of bass-heavy headphones.
My favorites, despite me liking the whole album, would be Real Boy, I Can't Keep You In My Mind, Love That's Gone, Please Be My Third Eye... okay nvm, I like them all.
I truly wish more artists would embrace this musical style as it really slows things/time down and sends the listener on a journey to another place and time. There is great potential for artistic growth with this record.