There’s something seductive about a pretty voice paired with snarling guitars. Dreamy harmonies add just the right amount of sheen to a heavy bass line, while vicious lyrics sound like sweet nothings among charging guitar riffs. It takes a particularly nimble voice and flexible playing style to achieve this marriage of glamour and grit. Luckily, Katy Goodman, the former bassist of Vivian Girls and current creative force behind La Sera, is an ace at both.
On her 2011 self-titled debut, Goodman dialed down her punk Vivian Girls persona, opting for whispery, layered vocals over in-your-face rock. 2012’s Sees the Light remained focused on her honeyed croons, but went for fewer layered harmonies and more stripped-down solos. While both of Goodman’s releases under the La Sera moniker showcased her vocals, neither took full advantage of her rock ‘n’ roll chops. Hour of the Dawn manages to give equal playing time to both.
Hour of the Dawn is more rock and less pop from the get-go. A chorus of growling guitars and loads of reverb introduce the opening track, “Losing to the Dark,” on which Goodman belts: “How ‘bout you have another drink so you can pass out in my car/What a pain it must be to only be with me.” Clearly, she isn’t one to sugarcoat less than stellar relationships.
To flesh out her quick bass lines, Goodman assembled a backing band for Hour of the Dawn. Led by guitarist Todd Wisenbaker (Rilo Kiley, Jenny & Johnny), the bigger, more complex sound adds volume to La Sera’s simple arrangements (“All My Love is For You” and “Hour of the Dawn”) and makes bigger tracks even more powerful (“Running in the Dark”).
The female garage-pop arena is filled with plenty of talented contenders—Best Coast, Dum Dum Girls, etc.—but all seem to take themselves more seriously than Goodman, whose breezy attitude is perhaps why her music, no matter how aggressive, is always an easy listen. Hour of the Dawn takes advantage of this laid-back vibe, challenging listeners to simultaneously breathe easy and rock out.