La Big Vic will release their sophomore album Cold War on January 29 via Underwater Peoples. Cold War is currently available for pre-order at the label’s web store. Self-Tiled Magazine is running an MP3 premiere of “All That Heaven Allows” from Cold War and says, “it leans heavily on neon-lit synth lines, buffered beats and hooks that cut right through the haze.” The track follows up the Stereogum premiere of “Avenue B” from Cold War. Both songs are also available to post and share on the band’s SoundCloud page.
Since forming out of a drafty residential loft building in the Hasidic section of Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s La Big Vic has captured the heart of the American underground as a band that encapsulates the melting pot that is New York City. Toshio Masuda, a Japanese producer and multi-instrumentalist with a background in J-Pop and R&B, started the band in late 2009 with Emilie Friedlander, a classically trained vocalist and violinist who also happens to be a well-regarded music journalist. Soon joined by Peter Pearson, a keyboard player and avant-garde composer who restores vintage synthesizers by day, they bonded over an interest in repetition, the melding of electronic and analog sounds, and a panoply of musical reference points including dub, ’70s electronic music, and the trip-hop of the early aughts. Unmoved by revivalism, they explored interconnecting ideas of musical expression, wielding inspirations more as paint than as the image being captured.
With their debut album Actually, La Big Vic cemented their reputation as a band that simply doesn’t sound like anyone else. There aren’t that many rock bands that use violin as a core instrument, and still fewer electronic groups that eschew the machine-made aesthetic of most dance music. La Big Vic are both, but they value the immediate impact of a well-turned melody above all. Pitchfork summed up the result quite well, observing that “using the breadth of their musical language, La Big Vic manage to create a strand of experimental music that is as wide-spanning in feeling as it is in sound”; Wire called Actually a “near classic.”
Cold War hones in on the power of a soulful hook without forfeiting the cosmopolitanism that made its predecessor so unique. The arrangements are lusher and crisper than ever, thanks partly to Toshio’s mastery of the bedroom recording studio, and partly to Soft Landing Studio’s Steve Griesgraber, who engineered the vocals and violin. More grounded in hip-hop beats and melodic synth leads than its predecessor, Cold War also sees the band venturing deeper into narrative storytelling, darting between emotional missed connections and the romantic melancholy of wandering the city streets alone at night. It’s an upside-down love letter to the city that never sleeps, and the sound of three musicians coming into their own.
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