LAL at Lee's Palace, November 2. Tickets: $10. Attendance: 150. Rating: NNN
LAL vocalist Rosina announced early in her set at Lee's Palace Thursday that despite the red balloons floating throughout the club with LAL's name on them, the record release party for her band's new Corners disc would not be just about them.The singer was clearly in a generous mood. As people got settled, she spontaneously invited pal Statch up to sing over a harp-driven breakbeat, cleared out space on the club's floor for the WOMB Dancers and even stopped halfway through one of her own songs to read someone else's flyers.
For better or worse, that loose, casual feeling was also present when LAL finally played their own set. With producer Murr huddled over a mixing board and a four-piece band providing support, Rosina cooed through Corner's sublime, soft beats, using her voice as an instrument within the band and occasionally crouching down to give her wheezing harmonium a squeeze.
The addition of veena and live percussion brought out a South Asian fusion vibe that LAL's album only hints at. Unfortunately, the full band also emphasized the problems that can occur when a group tries to mesh beats with live sounds.
When the beats led, the group best recreated Corners' understated feel. Too often, though, the live instruments seemed like a clumsy addition, with songs shuddering to a halt and true cohesion among the players rare.
The potential is there, but pulling it all together will take some time. Make it work live, though, and LAL could be deadly. LAL play the Rivoli November 10.