Songs for ZeMean EP by Lakookala

Tom Tom magazine Review Woman Drummer

Upon my first listen to the Songs for ZeMean EP by Lakookala, I knew there were elements of it that were right up my alley.  There is a raw and naked quality to the recordings as well as a clear-cut delivery of the songs themselves.  There is a repetitive, tribal quality to the arrangements of these songs that hypnotize and emotionally captivate.  Lakookala is the musical effort  of Nicole Ranalli; a songwriter originally from Pittsburgh, PA, but has now set up camp in Los Angeles. The songs of Lakookala are written and performed by Nicole Ranalli with assistance from additional musicians Phil Blythe, Marc Alan Goodman, Justin Colletti, and Daniel Schlett on a few tracks. From the opening track, “Bad Timing” to the fifth and final track, “My, oh, Me”, Nicole Ranalli drops infectious rhythms and grooves as well as a natural sensual quality to the vocals.

“Bad Timing” begins with a muffled guitar then quickly dives into the simple and effective drum patterns that keep Songs for ZeMean interesting and lends to the hypnotic nature of the songs. Nicole Ranalli’s vocals kick in with an energy reminiscent of one PJ Harvey.  “Mother Billirds” is the most straight up garage rock type of track within this collection of songs.  It is a quick attack to the listener’s eardrums.  It’s the type of song that makes me want to see Nicole and her band deliver it live.  “Mother Billirds” definitely gets the blood pumping.  The third song, “Light a Match, Watch it Burn” displays Nicole Ranalli’s harsh and raw vocal delivery.  Backed by simple percussion and a repetitive piano, Ranalli displays her ability to use her voice to soar above the sounds and creates an emotional quality that shines through and reveals that it is that emotional quality that matters most about these songs.  The next song, “Without You”  resembles what “Light a Match, Watch it Burn” has already embedded on the senses.  Backed by a simple rhythm and a piano that sounds a bit like it was dragged out of hell (this is a good thing), there is a genuine energy as a whole that feels as if Miss Ranalli is demanding to be heard. Riding out with the same tribal and primal elements evident throughout the entire EP, the final track, “My, oh, Me” is a refreshing display of Ranalli’s voice and her affinity to simple rhythms to create good songs.  This song is a good final track which leaves me very eager to hear more from Lakookala as well as get my inner drum circle on.

The songs are infectious, hypnotic, and as a result have gone on constant repeat in this guy’s music player.  Once digested, these 5 songs have left a very good impression on this listener and new fan.  I love how straight forward and to the point these songs hit.  The grooves and rhythms get stuck in the head.  The vocals ride and soar over the backbeats and musical arrangements.  The songs exist where not one thing stands out above the rest, but instead, the echoes of vocals and arrangements interplay beautifully.  The sounds bounce off each other in the most positive of ways.  The percussion keeps the spine aligned.  The songs are compelling, draw you in, and keep you interested, but most importantly, they are simply good.

Lakookalas’ Songs for ZeMean EP will be released online October 10, 2011 and a limited 10″ Vinyl (only 300 made) will be released October 17, 2011.

Review by Anthony Lozano



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