There really aren't too many bands as creatively ambitious as Long Beach's Havalina (who've dropped the "Rail Co." from their name for this new disc). Their previous albums have been far-reaching concept pieces centered on spies, Russian lullabies and American travelogues. This time—feeling completely undecided, it seems—they've settled on a three-in-one idea; hence the title. What space and bullfighting (not to mention love) have to do with each other is anyone's guess, but it sure makes grand listening as the band tries to sort it all out.
Even though there's less of a thematic focus than on their last album (the excellent America), Space, Love & Bullfightingstill has some amazing sounds on it—instruments splayed across an interstellar interstate that detours through the Mexican desert, where David Byrne and Tom Waits are thumbing rides and get picked up by John Coltrane and Stravinsky. The music herks and jerks you, a wonderful blending of off-kilter rhythms and assorted strangeness, things you'll never hear from any local band but this one. A song like "Losing You" has luscious farfisas, marimbas and castanets; "Lecia" has glockenspiels; violins and cellos pretty up "If You'd Like . . .," a track already buttered with beautiful, dreamy organ swaths. There are straight-ahead rock romps on "Space and Mexico"; distorto-thons on "I Feel Nothing"; deliciously poppy, sing-songy hooks on "Pluto"; and new-wave retro zaniness on "Rocket Ship" (where Havalinas Matt Wignall and Mercedes Stevens lob lines like prime B-52's). We'll also mention the several nakedly honest love songs, a tune sung entirely in Spanish and a near all-instrumental suite at the end. There is, we're happy to say, still no other band quite like Havalina, and we really, really like it that way. Just kick back and enjoy the journey they're taking you on.
Havalina perform at the Bluebird Art Lounge and Gallery, 6747 Bright Ave., Whittier, (562) 696-9493. Fri., 8:30 p.m. $5. All ages.
OC and Long Beach bands and musicians! Mail your CDs and tapes (along with your vital contact info, plus any impending performance dates) for possible review to: Locals Only,OC Weekly, P.O. Box 10788, Costa Mesa, CA 92627-0247.
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