La Motta – Love California EP

La Motta
Love California EP

I guess every generation needs an ABBA. ABBA was a band in the 80s with musicians that were too happy for their own good, and subsequently, everyone loved them to death. If you actually broke down their music, you found mostly nothing there, but that’s ok, because everyone loved them! They didn’t actually need to be musical geniuses, just happy.
The folks in La Motta are like that. They may not sound like ABBA, but they’re happy beyond belief. I listened to this casually, and I highly enjoyed it, but as soon as I listened a second time, I realized that there was hardly any substance at all to this music. La Motta’s bright, trippy power-pop lives on hooks and “ooh’ melodies; anything past that is, well, there’s not anything past that.
Not that there’s anything bad about being happy for the sake of happy, but most good power-pop bands have something that makes them different from other bands that carry peppy four-chord romps. Fountains of Wayne creates surprisingly good mellow material, as does Phantom Planet. Wilco is an alt-country band as well as a power-poppy trip, the Flaming Lips are psychedelic beyond belief, and Rooney is a throwback band. Even Jimmy Eat World is still partially an emo/rock band. La Motta just hasn’t carved out a niche yet, or if it has, it hasn’t really showed it well.
The one exception to normalcy on this five-song EP is the instrumental “Rad, Rad World.” It seems as if the guitarist came in off his surfboard, picked up his guitar, and rocked out. The resulting surf-punk song is like a cross between the Beach Boys and the crazy acoustic punkers Calibretto. It’s gritty, it has weird chords in it, and it sounds excellent. It’s one of the only instances of the surf sound though, except for the background ooh’s and ah’s that permeate the album.
La Motta’s power-pop is straight power-pop. There are surf-punk leanings here, but nothing substantial. If you like your pop untainted and non-compromising, La Motta is for you. This is a great album to smile along to and be happy with, but don’t expect much else.