Since the age of 16, singer-songwriter Ryan Traster has written songs and performed live. He has played in 'buzzy' bands in front of thousands of people as well as empty dive bars with a bored sound guy. “I’ve recorded in rad studios with incredible producers and I’ve recorded in a shitty apartment on a 4-track. For me it’s always been about saying yes to music and having too much respect for the craft to think of it as a hobby. I approach every project with equal passion and drive, and I think this has allowed me to grow in a forward direction and take a lot out of all the disparate experiences I’ve had in the industry.”
Low Mirada will be released on September 30th of this year on Los Angeles-based Blackbird Record Label. It was recorded by Kris Johnson at Flowers Studio in Minneapolis, MN, mostly with a live band, which gives this effort a more urgent velocity than previous records. It also features keyboards and mixing by Chris Walla (Death Cab for Cutie, The Decemberists, Pinegrove).
Traster’s core band has been playing together since 2011. Michael McGarthwaite (guitar), Pete Anderson (drums), Nick Johnson (bass), and Andy Holmaas (guitar). “We hadn’t been able to hang much over the pandemic and were still masked up and in different rooms while tracking this thing. We cut all of the basic tracks in about a day and a half. It just really flew by. There was a lot of freedom to just stretch out and do what came naturally.”
Noting that they brought in Chris Walla after the sessions, Traster adds, “We’ve all been long time admirers of his work. I’ve always loved the way he brings this textural presence to the stuff he works on, while leaving the songs all the room they need to breathe. I think his work on this album really pushed it out much further into the galaxy than my vision would have allowed. But it was a gentle push, and just the thing that was needed.”
Low Mirada opens with “The Night’s Got You”, a mid-tempo number with guitars that oscillate seamlessly from jangle to fuzz, and a slacker vocal delivery that sounds erudite and dreamy all at once. Moving to the second track, Chris Walla described Traster's "Nouveau Frisson, Amen" in the following way, "It's fucking impossible to express ennui in a sweet, magnetic, sociable, engaging manner but somehow you've done it."
After a buoyant start, the record moves into duskier territory toward the middle, with songs like "Seventh Daughter" written with Anthony Portz and "One Click Salvation", which is a meditation on how we seek fixation in technology when we should be focusing on the human elements that break us.
“It's All About Her” is another co-write, this time with Willie Wisely while hanging out in his former Laurel Canyon home. Traster slows it down on the closing track, “Home Again,” while also showing us what he’s best at: stories that sit with you like half-memories and half-dreams, wrapped up and delivered in effortless grooves and smartly cool croons.
Flower Studios was founded and operated by one of Traster’s mentors and a hero; the late Ed Ackerson. “It’s an absolute Mecca for vintage gear. Ed’s taste and curation of the place was second to none,” he observes. “Sonically, the big shift was the heavy usage of Rickenbacker’s, both six and twelve-string. We usually rely heavily on upbeat double-tracked acoustics as the core rhythm sound, it gives things a little haze. Swapping those for the Rics added an entirely new dimension to this record, it just feels a lot sharper to me. Shades of jangle and power pop goodness are all over this thing. It feels bolder and pushes the sound of the late 60s a bit and more into a decade or two later in some ways. I guess it’s our Paisley Underground record, texturally speaking.”
The songs on La Mirada were written in different regions of the country; the Pacific Northwest, Southern California, Nashville, Minneapolis, and the Netherlands. “There is a lot of geography on the album and I think bits and pieces of those places can be heard throughout,” said Traster. “There are a lot of miles in these songs, a lot of different vibrations that we tried to get to cut through the sound. With the places came a lot of interesting and incredible people and their stories. I tried to capture a bit of everything I heard and saw on the outskirts of those places, just a little ways off the beaten path. This is an album about living life on the fringe. It may not be glamorous, but there is a hell of a lot of truth out there.”
La Mirada releases on September 30th, 2022 Digital and Vinyl