The title of Heaven on the Rocks, the debut full-length album from Virginia Beach’s Ladada, has roots in misunderstanding. Lead Josiah Schlater asked a bartender for “Evan, on the rocks,” though the request was misheard as something altogether more metaphysical. Far from being an ice-breaking anecdote for a new record’s PR cycle, the story goes some way to illuminating the Ladada sound, where the everyday is transformed into something altogether more grand and golden. There is confusion, miscommunication and anxiety, yes, but such phenomena can be shaped into something wonderful.
Ladada was first the solo project of Schlater, an aside from his work with Mae, We Are Trees and Jake Clemons, but has grown to include Bobby Rangel (drums), Robert Smith (bass, and also a former member of Mae) and Jonnie Schilling (second guitar) too. Following on from the success of their Hi Five EP back in 2016, Heaven on the Rocks utilises this full band line-up, drawing on sounds as distinct as punk and shoegaze to create their own distinctive style. The eclectic sound is united by a common thread of warmth, a retro, surf-inspired texture in which the album is presented, lending a shimmering, transportive edge.
New single ‘My Van’ exists on the bright and confident side of the spectrum, the carefree swagger of the opening guitars permeating the rest of the track, leading to an infectious sense of energy and goodwill. The track comes complete with a unique video-cum-game from Janice Pang, Barry Harbour and Neil Pullman, a trio from the creative agency, Grow, who have worked with some attention-grabbing clients and won some impressive awards Their interactive creation allows players to drive their own van through the suburbs, collecting crystals that create an increasingly hallucinatory experience. The idea is essentially ‘My Van’ rendered visually, mixing the attitude of a feel-good, windows-down cruise with swirling, psych-tinged textures that bring to mind the 60s heyday of chemically-induced peace. But don’t take our word for it, have a go yourself:
Heaven on the Rocks is out on the 22nd March via Gold Robot Records and you can pre-order it now.
Album Art by Bianca Busante