Laska is one of those bands I’ve heard a lot about, but never got around to seeing. About a year ago, they seemed to keep popping up on bills that I couldn’t make it to all around town and then I just stopped hearing about them for a while. While I was busy forgetting about them, they were spending time holed up in Blue Door Recording Studio making a record that proved me way wrong for not checking them out sooner.
It’s Morning is a long one. With 11 tracks and clocking in at just just over 52 minutes, its length foreshadows its orchestral sonic depth. Its production is lush, and it has the songwriting and musicianship to appropriately support and frame the many layers of sound. The work of the band and Justin Bender at Blue Door yields a beautiful debut full length release that carries both moments of deep, dark emotion and simple sparkling joy.
Laska is a Regina-based trio made up of Austin Rosom on guitar and vocals, Landon Leibel on drums and vocals, and Mitch Goetz on keyboards and vocals. Like many groups that come out of Saskatchewan, their sound is built around an openness that mirrors a prairie sky. Expansive, crushing ensemble sounds give a distinct prairie space to the recording. The band uses conventional and innovative sounds in tandem, signalling deep ties to simplicity and honesty in music without being complacent in the initial result. It is clear they have meticulously arranged the songs. Constant variances in guitar tone and subtle effect choices work with thoughtfully chosen keyboard colours alongside thundering drum parts, forever building and reshaping the texture with the subtle flares of three genuine musical minds. And yet, none of it is overwhelming. The result is undeniably singable, insistently danceable, and deeply likeable. This is a band that knows where to keep it simple but never shies away from dressing it up. And they dress up good.
As a listener, I have very little interest in records that don’t offer me something to think about. There has to be something that draws my ears and makes me listen again. I don’t want to understand it all right away. One of the most noticeable things about It’s Morning is how seemlessly the music changes moods. From the slow and morose “It’s Not Right” to the dancy and bright “Ok, If We’re Alright,” the record maintains a consistent feel without staying on rails in a way that lulls your ears shut. Each tune offers a little variance with enough similarity to keep the thread. In particular, the band uses rhythmic texture and changes in time-feel to great avail. Even in their most poppy sounding tunes, they offer rhythmic interplay that is sure to get your heart racing and your mind thinking.
The voices on this record are another important feature. With a timbre reminiscent on Two Door Cinema club, lead vocals from Mitch Goetz feature a wide range of expression. From the carefully stuttering rhythmic patterns used in “Headspace” to the combination of speak-singing and straight up shouting in “Walk Away,” Austin’s voice is in constant flux. With expert harmonic support from the rest of the group, Laska uses a special combination of voices to hew a truly human element into a collection of sometimes otherworldly sounds.
The Stand Out:
My favourite tune from the record, “Ok, If We’re Alright,” sounds a little like Said the Whale attempting a Rush-style reimagining of George Michael’s “Faith.” To clarify, I’m saying that’s a good thing. It has all the hallmarks of a classic pop gem wrapped up with jagged odd-meter rhythms and just a hint of a classic Canadian indie sound. Altogether this makes for a hell of a jam, a true stand out within an already solid record. I cannot wait to hear them play it live.
Overall, It’s Morning by Laska is a solid record start to finish, with enough nuance throughout to keep you guessing and a unified sonic presence that safely puts them alongside other up-and-coming Canadian bands such as Close Talker, We Are The City, or Royal Canoe. Laska is band to watch, and one I won’t soon be forgetting about.
See Laska this Friday, January 29th, at the Exchange in Regina with Bears in Hazenmore and Orphan Mothers