Lesa & Ross – self-titled

Lesa & Ross - self-titled

Lesa & Ross – self-titled

This debut release from Lesa Aldridge and Ross Johnson is proof that you certainly shouldn’t guess the sound of a record from its cover.  With its pastel-hued front sleeve image of Aldridge with former lover and collaborator Alex Chilton, the eponymous debut from the ‘Lesa & Ross’ duo suggests a lush ‘70s-scented folk-rock affair extending upon aspects of Big Star’s ill-fated Third/Sisters Lovers LP. Yet the contents pressed into its splatter-coloured grooves are far removed from the said album to which Aldridge once added vocals to before they were erased in the final cut.

However, Johnson’s past drumming duties with the likes of Tav Falco’s Panther Burns and producer Kip Uhlhorn’s role in contemporary motorik-psyche outfit Cloudland Canyon should give a clearer idea of what awaits the ears upon the needle hitting grooves.  Moreover, digging even deeper into as well as beyond Discogs and Aldridge’s own fleeting work as a Patti Smith disciple around the late-‘70s – for a solo covers seven-inch and as a member of the Slits-like quartet The Klitz (whose Marcia Clifton also adds drums here alongside bassist Amy Starks) – provides a few clues too.  Thus, the funnelling of Aldridge, Johnson and Uhlhorn’s musical lineages away from the Big Star shadow partially explains the peculiar sonic stew that shrouds the eight gathered tracks of this first Lesa & Ross long-player.

Lesa and Ross - self-titled vinyl unpacked

Lesa & Ross – vinyl unpacked

The opening cover of the once Nico-sung Velvet Underground standard “I’ll Be Your Mirror” is a beguilingly pretty but slightly deceptive indication of the remaining seven pieces that follow; with Aldridge’s husky tones multi-tracked to suggest Kristin Hersh harmonising with Drugstore’s Isabel Monteiro amidst dainty yet murky percussion and keyboard layers.  From thereon in the LP takes off into a largely different orbit, with Johnson and Uhlhorn assuming vocal duties in addition to Aldridge.  Thus, the record steers itself through vast swathes of echo and reverb to cultivate the ecclesiastical ethereality of mid-period Spacemen 3 (“Little Child”), epic Funhouse-era Stooges-meets-Wooden Shjips trance-rock pummelling (“Are You Alone?”), a drugged-out drowsy cover of The Shadows Of Knight (“Dark Side”), misty opiated introspection (“Blue Moon”) and scratchy garage-psyche (“Final Apology”).

The cumulative effects of Lesa & Ross are sometimes had to gauge and pin-down through its foggy aesthetics and strung-out songwriting but there are certainly some alluring and enthralling moments to be found within its oblique strategies.  In short, this is a future cult curio in the making.  Pick it up now and decipher later.

The Great Pop Supplement