Read to the End
'This is damn good music.' - Smother.Net 'Frontwoman, songwriter, and guitar-slinger Sally Chou sounds a lot tougher than she looks...Chou is as believable in the husky, crooning sad songs as she is in the more upbeat tracks. The ache in her voice is too smoky and world-weary to be brushed off as pure drama. [ PLA feels ] ready to get out of the indie spotlight and be tossed right into the deep end of major label attention, MTV rotation, extensive touring...the more I listen to this CD, the more I think they'd not only swim but beat the sharks senseless with their bare hands and eat them raw.' - Jennifer Layton, Indie-Music.com Don't be fooled. Female-fronted pop/rock quartet PLA may not seem like a band to be reckoned with at first, with their tongue-in-cheek name and an album with the sheen of today's popular music. And PLA is quite proud to be pop-with songs as honest and passionate as they are undeniably catchy. Described as 'Blondie meets modern pop,' San Francisco-based PLA (pronounced 'play') fuses it's guitar rock core with soul, punk, and power pop. The real sleight-of-hand can be found in PLA's debut album, Read to the End. On first listen, the guitar-driven melodic rock songs will hook you in with what might recall radio-friendly, fun, mainstream music. But beneath the glossy pop exterior lie themes of struggle, disappointment, and heartbreak. 'As a band, the four of us share this sort of dichotomy,' explains vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Sally Chou, 'We're all drawn to the combination of upbeat hooks and quiet introspectiveness. It's a constant marriage of the two throughout album.' In Read to the End, PLA showcases their genre-blending explorations such as the haunting blues of 'I Wonder,' the sultry, but retro 'Making It Real,' the funk/pop-anthem 'Spaces,' and the bare, honest piano ballad 'Still.' Produced by Buddy 'Budz' Saleman, the album took shape around PLA's strong pop-sensibilities and Saleman's progressive and album-oriented rock background. 'A lot of it is very raw-especially the vocals,' Chou reveals, 'And I resisted it at first, afraid of the exposure and being that vulnerable. But Buddy is amazing at finding truth in a song and showed us how important that is. We swallowed our fears and went for it.' Perhaps they took their own advice from the opening rocker track 'Let Go.' The release of Read to the End is a followup to PLA's popular self-produced EP, fourplay, from June 2003. Over the past few years, PLA has developed a reputation for packing clubs in San Francisco at venues such as Bottom of the Hill, the Red Devil Lounge, Tongue and Groove, the Curve, BrainWash, Infusion, and the Werepad. Formed in 2001, PLA features vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Sally Chou, bassist Grace Yang, guitarist Jim Yang, and drummer Rich Yang. Sally's hook-filled songwriting is focused on storytelling in her own way-brash, then demure, then vulnerable-not unlike her fearless vocal delivery. This delivery is supported and strengthened by Jim's tactful guitar lines, Grace's keen sense of groove, and Rich's passion for rock rhythm. PLA was formed when brothers Rich and Jim called upon Sally, a classically trained singer and musician, to form the band. After shaping their sound and getting their stage legs around town, Sally recruited long-time friend and musical partner Grace (no relation to Jim and Rich) to join them on bass. The foursome clicked and have been spreading the pop gospel ever since.