By Joe Vallejos
He’s done it again. Seemingly knowing my musical tastes better than myself, Nada Mucho master of puppets Matt Ashworth slipped a copy of Los Halos’ Leaving VA into my greasy palm last weekend and gave me one simple order: listen to this. Admittedly, I was far more excited about The Thrills and Jet CDs The Snizz gave me, but after a couple of listens, I cannot bring myself to remove Leaving VA from my CD player.
Having never heard any of the other releases by this Pennsylvania band, I wasn’t sure what to expect. To my surprise, Los Halos capture a bit of everything. Normally, this haphazard approach to making a record doesn’t work. Many times bands who try to do everything don’t do anything particularly well. That, and it just sounds pretentious.
However, that’s just not the case with Leaving VA. Los Halos has adeptly mixed shoegazer rock, gut-wrenching balladry, Velvet Underground inspired jams and foot-stomping rockers to create a fantastic album. “Blue Star” sounds like a mix between Come Down-era Dandy Warhols and My Bloody Valentine. They follow it up with “Lo Siento,” a song so much like Velvet Underground I expected Nico to start singing at any moment. Los Halos swerves through musical styles like an ambulance through busy traffic, all without so much as a fender bender.
Single-named singer (see Madonna, Cher) Samezvous croons with more conviction than I’ve heard in a long time. Some of Samevous’ lyrics are painfully simple, such as the chanting of “When the world won’t give you anything” on “Blue Star,” while some are complicated and thought provoking. So great is the loathing of their hometown in “The Back Home” that I expect Los Halos must have spent a little time in my own hometown of Poulsbo, Washington.
Sorry, readers, but The Thrills review will have to wait for the force field around Leaving VA to wear off. Seattle’s Loveless Records has themselves a gem in Los Halos. Leaving VA is the kind of disc that forces me to paw furiously through the record bin at my local Sonic Boom to get my hands on everything the band has ever released. Special kudos to Matt (Ashworth, Nada Editor) for the foresight. – (9/10)