Katy “Kickball” Goodman has been a busy lady. In 2007 she formed the band Vivian Girls alongside Cassie Ramone (Vivian Girls’ primary songwriter) and Frankie Rose. The trio released their debut record the following year, and toured heavily to promote it. Since then, the trio released two follow-up records and a series of 7″ singles. In what free time she had left, Goodman taught herself how to be a programmer and coded a Vivian Girls adventure game. While she was at it, Goodman decided to try her hand at penning her own songs. Based on the strength of her initial demos, she persuaded her friend Brady Hall, a music producer, to help her record her own debut album under the name La Sera. The self-titled debut was released in 2011 and, Sees the Light, her sophomore album, was released this year. Thus, if you’re keeping score, Goodman has released five full-length LPs in four years, toured constantly, and taught herself programming.
You’d be forgiven for wondering if Goodman was favoring quantity over quality. Indeed, I can think of some songwriters who I hold in high regard who have a tendency to over-release their material at the expense of quality. Not so for Goodman (although it’s true that the adventure game has little in the way of “replay value”). In fact, in Goodman’s case, it would seem that the busier she is, the better her output. Indeed, Vivian Girls latest album was their most critically acclaimed yet, which leads me to believe that her solo work has not had a negative effect on her commitments to her original band. Meanwhile, the material Goodman wrote for Sees The Light, the latest La Sera album, is her best yet.
Like, La Sera’s self-titled debut, See The Lights is moored heavily in the melodies and sugary-vocals of 60’s girl groups and the gentle sway of early country music, elements which are balanced carefully alongside edgier punk influenced rhythms and reverb-drenched guitar riffs. Not necessarily all at once though. For example, the album opens with the country-tinged ballad “Love That’s Gone” which features a lethargic melody and Goodman’s bright, clear vocals. Immediately thereafter it tumbles forward with the lively, and significantly crunchier, early single “Please Be My Third Eye.” Meanwhile, the following track, “I Can’t Keep You On My Mind,” finds a delicious balance between the qualities of the preceding cuts. The album’s first single, “Break My Heart,” is a ringing Parallel Lines-esque rocker that would make Blondie proud. Further in, “Real Boy” floats along a feather-light tropical surf-pop groove and “Drive On” is a tense, paranoid psych jam.
The way in which Sees The Light balances those crunchy guitar riffs alongside it’s sweeter melodies and Goodman’s often honeyed vocals, it pairs intuitively with Kasey’s recipe for Dutch Baby with Caramelized Vanilla Bean Pears. It’s simply a warm and cozy album, and, as a result, you have an excellent selection for an album that could beautifully soundtrack your weekend breakfast/brunch.