If Ledaswan don’t already have a reputation for being one of the most courteous indie bands in South Texas, I’m going to start the buzz right here. “If everyone could please buy our album, that would be great,” said guitarist Jaime Monzón — as if he was informing a congregation of upcoming church functions — before opening the set with “25 Years.”
Primarily composed of cuts from NUM83R5,the EP-release show was a shoe-gazy affair. Jaime and his brother David took turns playing lead and harmony on their electrics, producing an excellent give-and-take over the amps. Jaime worked his pedal board over, evoking The Edge, Martin Gore, and Minus the Bear’s Jake Snider where appropriate. David used the odd solo to lend the band’s balladry some heft, keeping them loud and rockin’ even if the music was more suitable for journaling at 3 a.m. Unfortunately, the dreamy bluster of the brothers Monzón made the moments when lyricist/singer Erica Monzón (Jaime’s wife) played guitar seem extraneous. Her voice is an easy bone of contention. She does “disaffected” expertly, using an atonal attack to seemingly emphasize the discomforting emotions associated with her lyrics. Her style is “take it or leave it” and can grow on a listener with time. Live, it helps that she’s boosted by such excellent backing musicians.
Anchoring the band were new bassist Lalo Rodríguez and “on again-off again” drummer Oscar Linares. Rodríguez hails from rocanrol band Frequencia. Rather than bring a heavier aesthetic to Ledaswan, he grooved along like a rock statesman. But Linares hit the kit like it owed him money, betraying what may be a love of ’90s post-punk bands Jawbox or the Dismemberment Plan.
Altogether, Ledaswan managed a sonic force without relying on excessive power-chording or sheer volume. Instead, they focused on weaving between anthemic choruses, pensive verses, and explosive codas. The wordless, criminally short “A Missing Fifth” displayed this song formula at its most compact. Inversely, Ledaswan stretched themselves to the limit on the slow rocker “What a Way to Drown,” with Erica pushing a harmonica melody through the mix on the song’s climax. The moment was an appropriate end to a set of songs that touched on suicide (“.357”), being miserably medicated (“Six is Better”), and simply needing a vacation (“25 Years”). With the guitars wailing, drums pounding, and amps blasting, Erica made the modest pocket harp seem victorious.