Una de Luna
Beginning as strictly a studio project at the local Church Recording Studio, Una de Luna has developed into a full-fledged live band. Now it's released its debut album, Conspiracy, a combination of tight trip-hop grooves, sinuous melodies, pop hooks and arena-sized choruses.
The album opens with "Traveler," in which a hard-driving beat, Cure-ish strings and the strident vocals of Marla Degenhardt slowly build in tension until she collides with the chorus: "Show this broken heart of mine / all the strength to be the Traveler."
There's more than a whiff of Garbage to these proceedings, thanks mostly to Peter Guellard, whose articulated guitars, sampling, programming and occasional Middle Eastern touches provide most of the atmospheres, atop the solid rhythm section of A.T. Vish on drums and Mark Urbano on bass. Other touchstones include latter-day Depeche Mode ("Blind" could be straight off of Violator), and of course, Massive Attack ("Fallen Angel").
Apart from a couple of more major-key tunes, like the fun, horn-driven closer, "Crazy," the mood is usually a bit gothy. "I'm On Fire" has a touch of Nick Cave, while "Dinner Du Jour" reminds me of The Lovemakers' "Misery Loves Company," with its kinda-silly, kinda S&M seduction lyrics: "I've got this hunger inside me / I can't resist the chase / A taste of you is what I get / It's time to start the race."
Overall, it's a polished and interesting collection of pop songs that fit together within a specific mood: In its combination of swank and sinister, Conspiracy comes across like an album of potential songs for the next James Bond film.