Liana is a shoegaze band based in Ames, IA. They strive to create ambient, dreamy, lush and melancholy music with great inspiration drawn from the best shoegaze bands of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Still, despite their influences, they manage to put their own mark on their work while never shying away from elements of original bands of the genre. Liana released their debut EP in 2013 and after playing a variety of shows around the central Iowa area they’re coming back with a brand new six-track EP entitled Lost Cosmonauts.
The album opens with a loud, fuzzy, relentless track entitled “The Silver Key.” The vocals reminded me of other strong female vocalists such as Kim Deal of The Breeders. That seems about right anyway, because the grungy style of rock approached here is very reminiscent of other ‘90s rock bands. It is layered with distorted, warped, violent and incredible guitars, along with fluctuating guitar effects and spatters of solo arpeggios thrown here and there for good measure.
All in all, while not necessarily bringing much new to the table, I would be lying if I said Liana didn’t at least approach the style well and bring some authentic, raw, energy to their music. The personal highlight of this six-minute track for me was the mellow, tempered guitar rhythm around the four-minute mark. The song dips into something a little calmer before escalating back into a powerful, guttural closure. There is some great musical variation here.
The self-titled “Lost Cosmonauts” is a spacey track brimming with reverberating, warbling guitar chords and a restrained beat crashing softly - in fact, near-soundlessly - in the backdrop of it all. This slow piece truly feels as if the listener is floating through a vacuum with the members of Liana, listening to the lead singer’s relatively mellow vocals. Interestingly, despite all of this space-rock, the fuzz and distortion, for which shoegaze is most notable, still sits at the very back of the track, desperately pushing through the silence.
Towards the close of the track, this ethereal soundscape does become a little clearer and transcends into my favorite moment of the EP by far. A musically-chaotic progression composed of a beautifully-dark guitar arpeggio, screeching guitar solos and the echoing voice of an astronaut thrown into the mix for good measure. I do like their mellow approach, but I suppose the beauty of this track is that Liana appeals to all tastes and all musical variations imaginable.
All in all, this is a great, short EP. If you are looking for a band with heaps of musical variety, due to eclectic tastes, along with the energy, drive and motivation needed to approach such a complex and ever-changing rhythmic and melodic progression within their songs, Liana is the band for you. I highly recommend you give this EP a listen, because there is simply too much happening to put into simple words.
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