LESLIE PEREIRA & THE LAZY HEROES (Los Angeles, CA)
There's a moment at every LESLIE PEREIRA & THE LAZY HEROES show that almost defines the band. It's not even always during the same song, but the fans know it's coming and they wait for it. Leslie's just finished one of her trademark swooping vocal lines – crooning might be the proper word – almost literally sweetened by the harmonies of percussionist (and wife) Paula Venise. Suddenly she freezes, standing stock upright, hands off of her Telecaster, and she lets the rhythm section cook. That's a smart move: drummer Jeff Page and bassist Rob Lontok are LA aces and it's no wonder that session and top tier tribute bands keep them busy when they're not being Lazy Heroes for the love of it. Suddenly Page lets fly with a machine gun fill and Pereira starts pogoing as if her life depended on it while laying into the strings of her guitar... the sound that hits the audience is born of the noble stabbing single-coil angular lineage that leads from Link Wray to Gang of Four and on to Sleater-Kinney, but the melodies are coated with straight-up Buddy Holly sugar.
It's punk but it's gleeful. It's pop but it's visceral. It's rock and roll. Even when passionately bashing out the most anguished of their tunes, the band radiates the simple joy of performing, and chemistry to spare. That shouldn't be a surprise: Pereira, Venise and Page are all veterans of the late '90's LA power pop outfit It's Me Margaret. IMM never properly folded but rather evolved into The Lazy Heroes as a vehicle for Pereira's punk rock roots, but they've never been one-dimensional: the punk is in the approach. They jam econo, as their sonic forefathers the minutemen would have it, and that's evident on their debut album Fight For Now, produced with live-in-the-studio immediacy by the legendary Earle Mankey (The Three O'Clock, 20/20, Concrete Blonde, The Runaways and more). The intricate grooves of the title track and the aptly titled “Sweet Sweet Summer” shine through in all their unadorned glory. “Fly Like a Bird” and “Push It” do just what the titles say with soaring and punchy aplomb respectively, and in “Lucky Like You” the band has a set-closing anthem for the ages.
Big Stir Records is proud to release a limited edition reissue of Fight For Now in the course of welcoming The Lazy Heroes to our roster, while the band crafts a new collection of amazingly catchy and high energy tunes, this time with Karen Basset, of Pandoras fame and currently with The Kariannes and The Test Pressings, handling production duties. The connection between the Heroes and the label calls back to a happy coincidence of employment: drummer Page and BSR founders Christina Bulbenko and Rex Broome taught music together in the days when the latter pair were struggling to assemble bills for the early Big Stir concert series in Los Angeles. Page suggested that his “originals band”, his true musical passion project, might be a good fit. A last-minute cancellation saw the Lazy Heroes jump on a bill with scene mainstays Plasticsoul and visiting Australian power pop heroes The Stanleys and capture the hearts of the audience. They've been in regular rotation ever since, notably as a highlight of the series' November Gurls event alongside Anny Celsi, EZ Tiger and The Kariannes.
The “signing” of Leslie Pereira & the Lazy Heroes to BSR was as simple as the beginning of a sentence – “We're starting to work on some new song and we were wondering...” – that never got finished before Christina and Rex responded “Yes” in unison. They're now enjoying a deluge of the new LP&TLH material and looking forward to the next gig, and immensely proud to officially welcome the band to the family they helped to build.
Leslie Pereira & The Lazy Heroes
Big Stir Records is proud to announce the forthcoming release of GOOD KARMA, from LESLIE PEREIRA & THE LAZY HEROES. The second album by the Los Angeles-based quartet is out on CD and digital media on Saturday, October 10 and is up for pre-order at www.bigstirrecords.com/store and elsewhere now. A brash and involving follow-up to the band's 2017 debut FIGHT FOR NOW, the new record features 12 brand new tracks recorded and mixed by KAREN BASSET (of The Pandoras and The Kariannes) at her studio, and bristles with the live energy that's made the band one of the most exciting acts on the LA club scene in recent years.
The sound of the record derives from exactly what fuels it: the sheer joy of performing. It's a mixture of punk rock drive, pure melody, and genuine sweetness that draws on the history of female-centric LA bands like The Pandoras, The Runaways, and the early Go-Go's, sounding at times like Sleater-Kinney tapping into the spirit of Buddy Holly. GOOD KARMA was tracked by the band in a single day prior to the pandemic (with minimal overdubs in the following weeks), and it bears out the band's reputation as an ebullient and thrilling live act – they've wowed audiences at many a Big Stir Live event in Burbank and in clubs across Southern California.
What Basset has captured, with the band tracking together in the studio and at the peak of their considerable power and chemistry, is something we're not hearing enough of in these socially distanced times. But it's all there on the disc. PEREIRA front and center with her swooping, impassioned vocals and angular but melodic guitar, perfectly complemented by vocalist and percussionist (and Leslie's wife) PAULA VENISE, propelled forward by one of LA's very best rhythm sections, JEFF PAGE on the drums and ROB LONTOK on bass. That pair alone is unsurprisingly in demand for sessions and gigs with some of Southern California's top-drawing tribute bands, but THE LAZY HEROES is their passion project, with Page's tenure dating back to his days with Pereira and Venise in IT'S ME MARGARET, the '90's-era forerunner of the current band.
GOOD KARMA rockets out of the gate with the title track – the lead single that's already racked up multiple plays on RODNEY BINGENHEIMER's Sirius XM program. It serves as a perfect statement of intent, a muscular message of empowerment on which a single “Hey!” from Leslie puts the chorus over the edge into the giddy territory the rest of the album will explore. The songs that immediately follow are gleefully wide-eyed slices of joy colored by the innocence early rock and roll filtered through postpunk passion. “If I”, “In My Backyard” and “Hot Tamale” show tinges of rockabilly that suit the heartfelt wonder at their core: the melodies and sweetly nostalgic lyrics are worthy of Buddy Holly or Brian Wilson but adorned with riffs and arrangements far too fresh and punkishly spiky to be labeled “retro”. Deep yearning, childhood friendships, first kisses, and sheer infatuation are framed by soaring vocal lines and instant-singalong choruses, as immediate and inviting as anything you'll hear this year.
You'll get that same charge from tracks like the self-explanatory anthem “Time To Rock” (“because it's fun!” Pereira proclaims, and the proof is in the performance) and the irresistible dual-lead-vocal on the new wave-tinged “So Hard”. “I'm Waiting” takes the yearning to surprising places with its half-time break, allowing to the band to strut their stuff and still bring the tune home in 2 minutes 11 seconds, leaving you wanting more. It's a genuine challenge to listen to these tunes without breaking into a smile.
Even the dark and snarky moments are laced with humor and hope. “Slip”, an urgent portrait of a relationship gone sour, sung from behind the drum kit by Page with Pereira and Venise adding a Greek chorus of spooky harmonies, ends on a note of positive resolve. The withering putdown of “Race Car” is flat-out funny. “Not To Me” rides an instant-classic riff as Leslie hopes for better, for herself and someone she's missing deeply: “Have you every felt alone with me? I just wanted you to love yourself,” she sings, leaving no doubt she means it.
The sound of the record is remarkably present, visceral and consistent, letting the band shine just as they do onstage, and the textures of the tunes and performances speak louder than any production bells and whistles could. The sinuous groove of “Chrome” is instantly engrossing, and the closing “Coraline (Where Are You)” is a marvel of keening vocals, crackerjack playing and yet more of those unmistakable Pereira hooks. Throughout GOOD KARMA, the Lazy Heroes turn on a dime with organic precision – they'll flip from a tightly-wound and intricate minutemen-like verse to a huge Blondie-worthy chorus and back again, with plenty of other twists and turns along the way. For all its immediacy, the record has layers that reward repeated listens mightily.
We can hope GOOD KARMA provides what its title suggests, and Leslie Pereira & The Lazy Heroes are soon back commanding the live stages that are rightfully theirs. But in the meantime, the record is more than just a document of a tight and powerful band at full strength. It's a set of songs that deserve to own the airwaves and the hearts of listeners everywhere, and we at Big Stir Records are thrilled to bring it to you!
Good Karma (Big Stir Digital Single No. 87)
Leslie Pereira & The Lazy Heroes
LESLIE PEREIRA & THE LAZY HEROES present their first new tunes since 2017's FIGHT FOR NOW album as the next BIG STIR DIGITAL SINGLE. “Good Karma” b/w “Slip” are both brand new tracks from their forthcoming album (produced by KAREN BASSET of The Kariannes, The Test Pressings and The Pandoras). They're out Friday, August 21 and up for pre-order at www.bigstirrecords.com/big-stir-digital-singles now. Watch for details on the October release of the new album on Big Stir Records, but for now we're celebrating the single with a new CD reissue of Fight For Now (the first to bear the label's imprint since they joined our roster last year).
The band's been an exciting presence on the LA club scene for years, and favorites and friends of ours from many a shared stage over the years. PEREIRA (vocals and guitar) is simply one of the most dynamic frontwomen we've seen, and the band – JEFF PAGE on the drums, ROB LONTOK on bass, and PAULA VAZQUEZ with vocals and percussion) – is a charismatic force of nature. Their show is a kinetic whirlwind of angular but melodic guitar against the powerful precision of the rhythm section, bringing to mind Sleater-Kinney or The Minutemen. It's topped with vocals rivaling The Pretenders for archness and tenderness alike, and, just as often, the sweetness of Buddy Holly. Yes, they're that good.
Frequent guests at Big Stir's live series in Burbank, the Lazy Heroes were a natural addition to the label's roster, befitting our focus on gigging bands (and our quiet side mission to lay to rest the “boy's club” perceptions of guitar rock and pop). What we witnessed when we dropped in on the sessions for the band's new album at Karen Basset's studio, though, was beyond even our expectations. Thirteen well-rehearsed tracks mostly recorded live in one day with all the band's stage energy intact, the album is a marvel of joyous, exuberant energy unlike anything else you're likely to hear in the pandemic era. If you can't see them live, this record is damned close the the experience, and the new songs are irresistible.
“Good Karma”, the title track and our A-side, bristles with drive and aspirations that are much needed in these days, and one of Pereira's characteristically addictive vocal lines. The B-side features a rare and powerful lead vocal from Page (typically delivered from behind the drum kit as he pounds out the signature rhythm) while Pereira and Vazquez harmonize as a Greek chorus urging him through the dark days of a troubled relationship. Together they hint at the vibe of GOOD KARMA, the album: exuberant, upbeat, and welcoming, but also unflinching about realities of life. It's as real and visceral as the best punk rock, but shot through with the sheer joy of living and live performance. Release details will follow soon... meanwhile the new reissue of FIGHT FOR NOW can be found at www.bigstirrecords.com/leslie-pereira-the-lazy-heroes … it's a resounding debut and a terrific primer for what's to come from LESLIE PEREIRA & THE LAZY HEROES this fall!
Fight For Now
Leslie Pereira & The Lazy Heroes