Ladada – Ladada EP Review

Mae's former bass player recorded an album that couldn't sound any different than Mae.
Gold Robot Records, 2014
Purchase: Bandcamp / Amazon

7.5 / 10

“Isn’t it fun to come alive and just be anything you want to be?”

That’s the phrase that launches Ladada’s self-titled debut. It comes to us from an opening track of sounds and a woman narrating — presumably for kids — how awesome it is to be alive. Just a few years ago, Josiah Schlater, the force behind Ladada, was playing bass for Mae. You remember them — they were the band that, during conversations, your emo friend would pull you aside, look around sneakily, and say: “look, this band, Mae, they’re the real deal. Don’t waste your time on The Used. Throw away your Blink 182 CDs. Don’t give talk to me about Saves the Day — you need to listen to Mae.” Don’t pretend like you didn’t have that conversation.

Mae were self-described “mall punk heroes”, and Ladada couldn’t be further musically from Schlater’s mall punk roots1. Ladada is psychedelic. Ladada is retro. Ladada is rootsy.

Clocking in at six songs (not including that first track we just talked about), Ladada is a short, sweet ride that you’d expect from Foxygen, maybe even Brian Jonestown Massacre, but not from Mae. While psychedelic rock often has a tendency to indulge itself — whether it be in time or in instrumentation — the songs on this EP are pretty straightforward. So even if Ladada is only six songs long, it rockets by because Schlater’s songwriting is so engaging. Schlater wrote and recorded this thing by himself, but it never feels as such — even though it has a singular vision, Ladada offers the full band experience.

The best songs in this set (“Comets” and “Coin Toss”) threaten to be crossover hits, and their sunny, poppy melodies are truly excellent. The other tracks are solid as well, and while they will surely appeal to fans of ’60s garage rock, they may not be ready to transcend the audience just yet. Better studio engineering would definitely draw out the potential in some of these songs, but by and large, this is an impressive set from a songwriter who has seemed to discover his own voice. I can’t wait to see what Ladada pulls out next, now that it’s come to life.

Key Tracks:
“Coin Toss”

1. He’s also a member of We Are Trees.