Sears Roebuck M&Ms
The Brooklyn quintet Ava Luna are like a troupe of high-flying acrobats, with their feats of musical derring-do keeping you on the edge of your seat. In creating their sophomore album, the band members retreated to a cabin in upstate New York. There they recorded a set of songs full of more influences than most ice cream shops have flavors: '60s soul, avant-jazz, no-wave art rock, strutting disco, and good ol'-fashioned experimental noise. What sounds like a cacophony is actually the opposite: a mesmerizingly orchestrated set of songs where anything can happen. On "Sear Robuck M&Ms," a deep funk beat lays the foundation for Becca Kauffman (one of three vocalists) to screech scraps of hepcat lingo—it's The JB's reimagined as arthouse music. "Aquarium" has a mind-bending flamenco lilt to it, while "Plain Speech" is a heady slab of early-'80s downtown-NYC art rock. Don't mistake Electric Balloon for a cerebral art project, though: from the neo-soul of "Hold U" to the sharply funky "Daydream," this record is full of visceral thrills.