Ava Luna and guests Blind Horses – Media Club – Live Review

Two experimental, noise-punk, soul, rock, pop groups were on the agenda for the night. Blind Horses led the way, and as the 4 young men started to play I thought, this is a boy band that deserves to be swooned over and in fact there were a few young ladies in the audience doing just that. Blind Horses began when childhood friends Danny Majer (guitar, vocals, synthesizer) and Peki Hajdukovic (guitar, vocals) started playing music together. They later added brothers Jack MacDonald (bass) and Will MacDonald (drums) to round out the band.

Their music has a solid resonating drum and bass line that keeps you tethered to the sound while the guitars and vocals drift and float over the reverberation in creative contrast. It takes great skill to be able to make dissonant harmonies still sound melodious and although they had trouble with this at times their overall sound was quite captivating. Great talent and ingenuity lie in Blind Horses and with just a bit more time to crystallize their sound these boys will be sharing their music with a larger and larger crowd.

Brooklyn’s Ava Luna was the next unassuming band to grace the stage. How is it that there are all these amazing young people who are multi-talented musicians? I guess it’s moms like my sister who forced their children to take classes from an early age (and now my nephews love it!).  And the parental unit is exactly where Carlos Hernandez, frontman for Ava Luna, got his inspiration too. He is the son of a 70’s New York soul DJ (I can only imagine how much fun that would have been). You can definitely hear elements of that style within Ava Luna’s soulful, discordant, pop-noise revelation.  Hernandez leads the group with his synthesizer, guitar and vocal skills. Becca Kaufmann (vocals, guitar) and Felicia Douglass (vocals, synthesizer) both sing with old school soulful tones, which support Hernandez’s falsetto runs quite magically.  Everything is grounded by Julian Fader’s mastery of the drum kit, Ethan Bassford’s resounding bass line and Nathan Tompkins’ ethereal synthesizer.

The sextet delivers an excellent live performance that is truthful to their recorded work. There is an overall theme to Ava Luna’s music tying the songs together, similar to the movements in a symphony, the pieces blend smoothly and create a musical fusion of disco funk and eerie trance-like soul.  As with most bands Ava Luna has seen members come and go over the years but a solid group is what remains. This time together has allowed them to become a cohesive unit that can and will experiment with a whole myriad of genres which enables them to create their unique compositions.

Wrenning Day and Ice Level, from Ava Luna’s latest album Ice Level are excellent examples of the group’s inventive song writing abilities. These are not your average pop ditties with jingle-esque lyrics or repetitive choruses and yet they still manage to stick with you. The night ended with the crowd chanting for Sequential Holding and we were treated to a rousing funkadelic finale.

Both groups produce a sound that is worthy of being on the soundtrack of a new dystopian film. Still it may take you more than one listen to really appreciate this union of genres but trust me it is definitely worth the extra listen, now I’m hooked. I was thrilled to be a part of the intimate crowd at the Media Club and found myself wishing the night hadn’t ended so early.

Ava Luna is currently on tour in the US so for the time being it’s best to check them out online; Blind Horses are Vancouver –based so you may be lucky enough to catch them sometime soon.