“Dark pop,” Shana Falana calls it, when pressed for a genre. On Here Comes the Wave, the veteran of the Brooklyn and San Francisco undergrounds deals in paradoxes and oppositions: drones stormy and serene, layers of warmth streaked with wildness and troubled riffs, ethereal forces at war and at play. The duality runs deep in the record’s unlikely birth story as well.
In the winter of 2006, Shana lost half of her index finger in a workplace elevator accident in New York City. On the passenger seat of her car that morning—when the shoegaze/psychedelic songwriter was pulled over (and let go) with expired California plates and no insurance—sat cassette tapes of Django Reinhardt and Jerry Garcia, two guitarists famous for adapting to missing or damaged fingers in the pursuit of their art.
Themes of synchronicity, and gain born from loss, recur throughout the story and the record. Shana grappled with addiction and wrote furiously following the accident and this burst of driven productivity, a decade later, accounts for half of the potent, transformational songs on Here Comes the Wave. “Somehow, I knew those songs would serve me well later,” says the long-sober and creatively disciplined Shana Falana. The emotional turmoil of addiction seethes through the unstable sludge and fuzz of “Lie 2 Me,” but in the light and buoyant psychedelia of “Cloudbeats,” Shana hears the call of her own recovery, several years before it actually began.
Luminous, wise, and empathetic new songs comprise the other half of Here Comes the Wave, forming a dialogue between selves across a great expanse of time and personal transformation. On the single, “Cool Kids” she delivers an ethereal message of acceptance to her younger self and to all young people disfigured by social pressures, driven to addiction, marginalized by gender and racial identities. On the record’s cover, a polaroid self-portrait Falana took long before “selfie” was a word is artfully streaked and defaced by artist Carla Rozman.
Here Comes the Wave is Shana Falana’s second collaboration in as many years with producer D. James Goodwin (Bob Weir, Whitney, Kevin Morby) and long-time partner and drummer Mike Amari, both of whom play a larger role here than on 2015’s Set Your Lightning Fire Free. As is their way, Shana and friends trusted the material and their process, recording and arranging quickly, layering generously, going for audacious sounds and heightened moments. They had reason to be bold going into this record; the last one had been featured in the television series American Horror Story and generously affirmed by Pitchfork, Village Voice, Stereogum and others.
Themes of maturity and closure abound: letting go of youth (and eulogizing her native San Fransciso’s D.I.Y scene in the exquisite “Castle Kids”); coming to terms with the death of her father and of a musical hero and father figure in Lou Reed, whose song “Ocean” closes the record with a gradual wash of clarity, acceptance and affirmation.
Here Comes the Wave will be released on October 21, 2016 on Team Love Records.