Ava Mendoza: Unnatural Ways

Glenn Astarita By

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The debut album led by West Coast USA guitarist, vocalist Ava Mendoza parallels some of the principles established by the renegade New York City downtown scene with correlations to avant- rock albums produced by John Zorn for his long-running Tzadik record label.

I listened to the LP, and it appears that the only other option would be to purchase the digital download. But the wide dynamic range of vinyl serves this band well. The musicians' kinetic energy frames a multi-genre rite of passage as the trio centers its modality on avant prog-rock, knotty jazz rock, experimental improv and grunge. No doubt this is an excitable unit, led by Menzova's multi-purposed, hard-edged attack containing hearty doses of blistering chordal developments, stinging leads and unconventional voicings. Her vocals are placed evenly in the mix and largely overshadowed by the booming polyrhythmic expositions, although the lyrics are provided on the insert sleeve for those who wish to follow along.

Indeed, there's a whole lot of shakin' and brain- rattling going on. On pieces such as "Dogsbodies" and "Quit Your Unnatural Ways," you'll be treated to a bevy of fireworks, initiated by Mendoza's garrulous distortion-based phrasings, fervent strumming and coy use of harmonics, shaded by keyboardist Dominique Leone's occasional use of electronics effects.

Drummer Nick Tamburro provides the slamming beats amid the band's heavy metal doomsday burnouts and succinct melodic intervals. Perhaps it's anti-rock, where the musicians navigate through byzantine time signatures via spaced-out intermezzos and oddball deviations as Mendoza also executes bluesy motifs and some Robert Fripp style sustain mechanisms.

Even though the musicians blow the walls down, their solid musicianship and perky gait equates to a scenario where they don't solely rely on eternal soloing escapades or overly cerebral metrics. They impart a capricious stance, but it's the proverbial balls to the walls approach, supplemented by an hyper- mode take no prisoners group chemistry that infests each track.

Track Listing

Shapeshifters; That Furious Harpy’s Still Following Us; Dogsbodies; Feral Twin; Is This A Joke; Quit Your Unnatural Ways; They’ll Get You In Their Dreams Irene.


Ava Mendoza: guitar, vox, etc; Dominique Leone: keyboards, vox; Nick Tamburro: drums, percussion.

Album information

Title: Unnatural Ways | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: New Atlantis Records


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