New York's favorite 'nervous soul' outfit, Ava Luna began in 2007 when Carlos Hernandez, then a music composition student, set out to combine the heartfelt soul of Sly Stone and Shuggie Otis with the raw intensity of bands like Wire and The Raincoats. After self-releasing several EPs, their debut LP Ice Level was released in 2012 to a groundswell of support, lauded by SPIN as "ice-cool vintage '80s no wave grooves and extra-lush three-part girl group harmonies," and by Pitchfork as "glorious."
Playing +100 shows in support of Ice Level, the band solidified its current line-up - Carlos Hernandez, Becca Kauffman, Felicia Douglass, Ethan Bassford and Julian Fader - and signed to Western Vinyl. Sophmore LP Electric Balloon, released in 2014, earned still more critical acclaim, notably from the Village Voice, Wax Poetics, Time Magazine, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, who praised it as "pulsating from one energy to another, suggesting art project and ritual."
Their third record, Infinite House, which was produced by Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Tame Impala), was released on Western Vinyl in 2015. Pitchfork said the album had “loose, playful energy, and always seems ready to pounce on you”.
Their fourth record, Moon 2, will be released via Western Vinyl in the summer of 2018.
Ports of Spain
From the back of the bar, Ports of Spain instantly scan as a full band, so it's a shock to discover their mathy shoegaze-pop is constructed by just two musicians . Ilya Gitelman uses octave pedals and loops to play lead, bass and rhythm guitar simultaneously, while Sam Carlson contributes vocals, keyboards and drums. Don't be fooled -- Ports of Spain are not another band that trades directionless loopy jazz odysseys for pure songcraft. Their equipment never gets in the way of their complex melodies. They write actual songs, consistently avoiding complication for the sake of complication. They juggle tons of ideas in every song, creating a noise that's consistently about to fall apart. That it doesn't is incredible by itself. Their brilliant songs may seem like a bonus under these circumstances, but don't underrate Ports of Spain. Even as these two guys spew chaos into crowded clubs, their songwriting is always there to remind you why a grounding in planned songcraft keeps so many of the best bands tethered to excellence. Ports of Spain belong in their company. Ports of Spain have played with bands like Tera Melos, Hospitality, Beach Fossils, Fang Island, Pissed Jeans, Pile, ONWE, Speedy Ortiz, Morning Teleportation, Kal Marks, The Paper Kites, and Solids.
"Ports of Spain is a small band with a large potential for success."
- Paste Magazine
"Gitelman re-creates parts he played in the studio — sinewy chord progressions, sub-octave bass riffs, surf-rock strumming patterns and arpeggios — without necessarily being constricted by them, and also sings. Carlson croons bright melodies, plays tom-driven beats, bashes cymbals and works a keyboard with one hand. Each man's routine is a tightrope act, synchronized with the other's."
- The Courant
"Ports of Spain goes a sonic step beyond the two-man band paradigm."
- Connecticut Post
"New Haven's Ports of Spain are Worth Seeing Over and Over"
- The New Haven Advocate