Bands come from all over, but rarely have I come across a band from the very hot (and I'm talking temperature-wise) state of Arizona. I'm not sure it's the weather because Texas breeds tons of musical ooze. There is the occasional Calexico and Jimmy Eat World, but other than that the home of the Grand Canyon seems to be as hostile to up-and-coming bands as snow.
That might be a little overdramatic, and the five-piece indie outfit What Laura Says is trying to break free of that geographical music void with their assorted musical sensibilities. They really are like a bag of Skittles with each color representing a different genre ("taste" would have been too obvious).
Originally begun as a duo, the Danny Godbold (vocals, guitar, keyboard) and James Mulhern (vocals, guitar, percussion) team was soon joined by Greg Muller (drums), Mitch Freedom (bass), and Jacob Woolsey (percussion). The title of the band's debut album is an ode to the band's original name What Laura Says Thinks And Feels. The name is shorter, but now the band doesn't sound like they're overcompensating for something.
If anything, the Tempe, Arizona quintet suffers from an abundance of raw talent. Similar to Brooklyn's The Epochs, WLS relies on a fusion of ideas and sounds for their storytelling. The opening track "Couldn't Lose Myself If I Tried" best encapsulates the band's inventive zeal by starting off with a smooth folksy ballad before a slow and steady crescendo into a more rockabilly swagger (think Ben Folds Five meets Brian Setzer Orchestra).
You could instantly dismiss it as a once-in-a-lifetime creation, but "Fashionably Moral" follows it just the same way, this time with an Americana–like commencement and a punk-like end that includes a few moments of amp feedback.
It's refreshing to hear such clever genre-blending abilities, and the album's second half continues that knack with a bit more consistency and continuity. From the carefree Hawaiian melodies of "Wish I Could Fly" to the 50s jukebox ballad "Waves" to the Beach Boys-inspired yet modernized "1000 Faces," What Laura Says hits you with what feels like a Cliff Notes version of music history. You almost feel guilty listening to them.