Track-by-Track: La Sera on “Music For Listening to Music To”

Katy Goodman and Todd Wisenbaker on Their New Album, Out Today via Polyvinyl

Mar 04, 2016 Photography by Julia Brokaw Web Exclusive
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"This album is the first time I've ever been really proud of my voice," says Katy Goodman of La Sera's fourth album, Music For Listening to Music To, out today via Polyvinyl, and it's clear the album was something of a creative rebirth for Goodman. With this album the ex-Vivian Girls member is joined by Todd Wisenbaker, who becomes a full on collaborator on the project and even sings some of the lead vocals. The duo's partnership extends beyond the band-Goodman and Wisenbaker also recently married. Another factor in La Sera's fresh sound is Ryan Adams, who produced Music For Listening to Music To. Wisenbaker and Adams bonded over The Smiths, in particular their album Meat Is Murder, which was one of the influences on Music For Listening to Music To. Here, Goodman and Wisenbaker break down Music For Listening to Music To track-by-track, discussing the lyrical and musical inspirations behind each song.

"High Notes"

Katy Goodman: I wrote this song about coming to terms with the fact that I have a high pitched, very effeminate voice. For a lot of my life, I mainly listened to music where the singer (male or female) was shouting, and I was always really jealous of that ability. If I even attempt it, I lose my voice almost immediately! I wrote this song because eventually I was like "fuck it!-you have to use what you've got, and make it your own." This album is the first time I've ever been really proud of my voice, so I wrote an ode to that feeling.

Todd Wisenbaker: Musically I was going for a clean rockabilly-ish vibe, with a country lick to kick things off. Very '60s Jazzmaster tone with a greaser drumbeat. 

"A Thousand Ways"

Todd: Katy and I wrote this song together at the same time, sort of reminds me of a Sandy Shaw singing "Hand in Glove" vibe. The key change in the end was something I really wanted to put somewhere on the record, big fan of all the '60s Nashville sound, and all those songs have the best dramatic key changes. That's Ryan at the last chorus on pump organ!

"One True Love"

Katy: This was the first song that we wrote for the album. Todd and I were sitting in bed, and he had written the main riff and was playing the chord progression. He started singing the verse and then I started singing the chorus! It came together like magic, and was the inspiration for all of the rest of the songs on the record. This was when we realized how easy it could be to just sit around together and write an album.

"Begins to Rain"

Katy: I wrote this song about a tense friendship that I have been working through. Todd added a lot to it, including the cool stops in the choruses, and the Elliott Smith-y outro.  Ryan was the one to come up with the amazing guitar tremolo swells.

"Take My Heart"

Todd: Katy wrote this one strumming on an acoustic guitar. I swapped out some of the chords for a more aching and longing feel and we made it a waltz. Probably my favorite song on the record. 

Katy: This song is about letting your guard down. It's a sort-of response to our older song "Break My Heart," after which the character has moved on from an old heartbreak and is becoming vulnerable with someone new.

"I Need An Angel"

Todd: This one started with the riff and was the last song we wrote for the record. Sort of going for Dwight Yoakam meets The Smiths meets The Gun Club. I hadn't intended to sing the chorus but Katy didn't like how she sang it so it was given to me. Katy thinks it sounds like Led Zeppelin.

Katy: I do think it sounds like Led Zeppelin and I love it. It's my favorite new song to play live.

"Time to Go"

Katy: I wrote this song about a fictionalized encounter with an antagonistic friend. I am really proud of this one, one of my favorites on the record. The overall sound and frantic energy of it was definitely inspired by '50s rockabilly.

Todd: Hectic rockabilly with slide guitar and tele licks played on a Les Paul, what's not to love? ;)

"Shadow of Your Love"

Katy: I came to Todd with just the chorus, and he wrote the verses and epic outro. This song is another one of my favorites on the record, something about it always just sticks with me for a while.  

Todd: Chet Atkins or Merle Travis guitar picking and I'm pretty sure I stole the line "pedal steel plays" from an old country song. Just an epic way to set a scene of sadness. Ryan had the idea of the harmonics at the end.

"Nineties" 

Todd: I wrote this on an acoustic guitar, the chords had a sad nostalgic feel to them so I wrote the lyrics that I saw fit. Ryan had the idea of the synth and I was definitely going for an Andy Rourke [of The Smiths] bass line.

"Too Little Too Late"

Katy: I wrote this song on acoustic guitar right before we recorded the album. I really like the lyrics I wrote, and the treatment that Ryan and Todd gave to it. We kept it simple and straightforward. It's just a sad song, and it feels that way.

www.iamkatygoodman.com



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