Getting Cleansed with Launder

By Allyson Nobles
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Photo by Lindsey Hartman

It hasn’t even been a year since Launder has come onto the radar in Los Angeles’ ever expanding music scene with the debut track “Fade,” and yet the nostalgic melodies don’t seem to diminish. Helmed by singer-guitarist John Cudlip, a 28-year-old Dana Point native, Launder features collaborations with an array of musicians in the area including Soko, Lukas Frank, Zachary Cole Smith (of DIIV), Jackson Phillips (Day Wave), and Chase Meier (Golden Suns).

In the first EP Pink Cloud, Cudlip introduces dreamy, far-reaching melodies grounded in dense basslines and metallic guitar licks, calling back to nostalgic alternative rock ballads, but without the incessant angst and whine. His efforts show in the recording as well as on stage, aided on four of the tracks by the dark, feminine touch of French singer and actress Soko, who previously worked with Ariel Pink on a similar dream-pop aesthetic. On “Keep You Close,” Soko’s presence is most evident, with her taking over in the chorus throughout as well as a verse before Cudlip returns to harmonize the bridge.

It was only April 12, 2018 that Launder played their first show at The Factory with an industrial layout reminiscent of the underground days of basements and abandoned warehouses. Just like the balance in the music itself, the stage’s hanging lights and projections on the band balanced out the hardness of the open concrete ceilings. The space quickly filled up with a sold-out show of eager fans all swaying and nodding in time with Cudlip and Soko’s natural rapport throughout the set.

Only three months later Launder opened for Drugdealer, in good musical company sharing The Telegram Ballroom stage with indie contemporaries Mac Demarco, Michael Collins (previously under the monikers Run DMT and Salvia Plath), Natalie Mering (mastermind behind Weyes Blood), and Jackson MacIntosh. Again, a sold-out crowd got to experience his capacious tunes, many for the first time.

Launder sentimentally calls back to previous eras and genres, accomplishing a 90’s-like grunge mixed with 80’s new wave and post-punk that quietly demands from start to finish. On tracks like “Wonder,” this melding is modernized effortlessly without getting lost in its shoegaze elements. The airiness of Cudlip’s execution transforms even the most claustrophobic setting to the sensation of shouting into gusts atop a mountain, breathless and coddled, resonating in the chest while ricocheting in the distance.

Photo by Lindsey Hartman

It’s no surprise that the name Launder telegraphs how the music transports its listeners, as Cudlip’s breathy words and oozy echoes reverberate like watching a laundromat washer. The textures within the tracks slip into each other in a sort of soapy watercolor painting (nodding to the production efforts by Jackson Phillips) that by the end of each song evoke the feeling of being cleansed. In an era of instant gratification, entitlement, and impatience, Launder refreshingly presents the opportunity to listen and let the water wash over.

Cudlip’s intention in choosing his project’s name and execution is evident without being overpowering. This isn’t surprising when learning that he is additionally an avid skateboarder, emitting a mindset of laid-back, feel-good collaborators in the sport as well as in skate videos and the music selections that accompany them. And Cudlip’s humble presence on social media is equally as fluid, with his Instagram sharing photos and videos his fans capture from performances, silly posts of friends and cats, and even freeing his car from the sand in Yucca Valley, shovel in hand.

Though only having six tracks to laud for now, Cudlip is taking a step back from performing to concentrate on recording. Launder’s newest track “Powder” was released two weeks ago and accompanying it will be “Chew” on a 7-inch to be released January 18, 2019.

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