Having originally formed at Fordham — which students may associate more with a folk scene than with guitar-rock — La La Lush is quickly climbing the ranks of the city’s larger music scene. The quintet started out in the local area, playing for students at house parties, but since then, has graduated to more impressive New York City venues, such as Webster Hall, Gramercy Hall and Sullivan Hall. There, the band has been polishing its chops and making a name for itself among the city’s young crowds.
Composed of lead singer Leea Borst, keyboardist Stephen Federowicz, guitarist Steve Scarola, bassist Joe Farrell and drummer Cashel Barnett, La La Lush put out its self-titled debut album a little under a year ago, when its members were still undergraduates. In accordance with a hopefully-newfound Fordham tradition, the band promoted the release in the basement of a local party, which may be one of the more punk-rock things to happen at Fordham in recent memory.
The album was self-funded and self-produced and, at 12 tracks deep, delivers a fiery debut, loud in volume as it is in its statement: Rock has strong roots here in New York City. The record displays a still-evolving sound, one that synthesizes a variety of sounds, personalities and influences.
“We’re an accumulation of styles,” said the group over a phone interview. “We’re a band with many different faces, but we’re in the process of identifying our middle ground. That’s where our sound is at the moment.”
On tracks such as “Hollowed,” “Sentinel,” “Harbingers of Sleep,” the band is as technical as it is catchy. It does not forget, however, to push the group’s alluringly progressive edge. “King is Coming,” the fifth song on the debut, is fast-paced and blistering. Distorted and lingering guitars make a mess of the sound, while quick, snappy vocals fight through the noise. It is a song worth the couple re-listens to understand where the piece fits in the larger puzzle. This sort of blending, binding and fusing makes for a sound that does not push genre boundaries as much as it blurs them.
“Don’t Touch (That Water)” is one of the standouts of the album. The atmosphere conjures up the image of a troop of boy-scouts sitting around a campfire, watching a woman engulfed in flames singing her tune at their mercy. The track spotlights a devilish guitar riff with punchy drums creeping behind — that is, until the whole thing breaks down into a disorienting chaos at its chorus.
Almost a year after the band’s debut, La La Lush, with its legion of fans and friends (which are often one in the same), has been venturing up and down the coast, exploring other city’s scenes and being sure to leave its mark.
“The band has played a lot in New York City, but we’re trying to hit some more cities in the Northeast, like Boston and Philadelphia,” said one of the members. “We get to re-introduce ourselves to a new crowd where nobody knows us. There is a sort of freedom to introduce yourself however you want. You choose your representation. It’s kind of like moving from high school to college.”
Looking toward the future, the band finds itself aiming at individual improvements, covering ground in elements of production and instrumentation. Collectively, there is a vision of refinement and development — a task that seems to be well within the band’s potential given its success thus far.
“For each person, we have all tried to think about setting goals in terms of moving forward. It’s a lot of personal goals coming into the mix of La La Lush,” said one member. “You don’t want to stagnate at what you do.”
Most recently, La La Lush is in the works of releasing their newest project. The group’s next New York City gig, an album release show, is Saturday, March 1 at The Bowery Ballroom. At the show, copies of the EP will available. The band will also perform with openers Reserved for Rondee and The Liza Colby Sound. Tickets can be found on The Bowery Presents website.
Joseph Vitale is Managing Editor at The Fordham Ram. You can follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/_joevitale.