Monday, September 22nd, 2008
Give Me Back My Heart Attack
Photo via Saddle Creek
There’s long-awaited, and then there’s long-awaited. And then there’s Some Are Lakes from Land Of Talk. Ever since first discovering the Montreal trio way back in June of 2006 and subsequently playing their debut mini-album Applause Cheer Boo Hiss pretty much to death, I’ve been waiting for the follow-up. And waiting. And waiting. But thanks to the nature of buzz, crafting their first proper full-length was constantly put off as the record was picked up in new territory after new territory and the band subsequently had to tour to support, rather than head back into the studio. Throw in some personnel changes – original drummer Bucky Wheaton left in Spring of 2007, his replacement Eric Thibodeau didn’t stick around too long and by the time it came to actually record, they had to enlist Andrew Barr of The Slip to handle drum duties – and you have the perfect scenario to never complete a record.
But they eventually did and it’s finally here – available now digitally and out in physical form on October 7. And for something that has been such a long time in coming, it’s awful familiar sounding. And yet not. To the former, there’s the simple fact that songs like “Young Bridge” and “Death By Fire” have been live staples for a while and also appeared in studio sessions and even though this is their first “official” release, they’re already like old friends. And to the latter, the choice of Mr Bon Iver – Justin Vernon – as producer has moved the band away just enough from the white-fuzz angst and intensity of Applause Cheer to merit a fresh look from those who thought they knew what Land Of Talk were about.
Liz Powell’s yearning voice remains unmistakable and her ability to craft evocative lyrics wrapped around elliptical yet memorable melodies is still omnipresent, but there’s more space and more patience in Some Are Lakes. It’s many miles from overproduced, but compared to the debut (with the exception of “Corner Phone” which is still all out to the wall), it’s considerably less needle-in-red throughout – an aesthetic that worked well for first impressions but probably would have offered diminishing returns if it had been maintained. There’s still moments of full-on rock out, but rather than ride the inherent energy of lo-fi recording, they utilize greater songwriting dynamics to get their point across. Lakes might make less of an immediate jackhammer first impression than Applause did, but it reveals some heretofore unrevealed thoughtfulness and sophistication that will surely serve Land Of Talk well in the long run.
The band are conducting a short headlining tour this week across Quebec and Ontario, culminating in a show at Lee’s Palace in Toronto this Saturday night before setting out across America as support for (and as a member of ) Broken Social Scene in October – and then doing a set of Western Canadian dates in November. Liz Powell talks to Chart and Queen’s Journal about her musical roots and to Canada.com about the anxieties of being the new Broken Social Lady, at least for this tour. Soundproof also has an interview.
I guess I missed the actual day (last Friday) but there’s a new song available from Lambchop’s forthcoming OH (ohio). The record is out October 7 and Kurt Wagner plays songs from it solo-style on October 6. New York Magazine has an interview.
So I’ve been toying with the idea of going to New York City again, just for kicks, but looking for the proper excuse, and while normally I’d consider the CMJ Music Marathon to be the exact opposite of a good reason, there’s two artists in attendance who had me pricing flights and hotel rooms for the second-last weekend in October – Emmy The Great and Lucky Soul. I’ve seen the former before but the latter, whom I tried unsuccessfully to get to Austin for SxSW this past Spring, are playing on the 24th at a Music Snobbery-sponsored show, and by god I’d get on a plane to see that. Unfortunately, it seems there’s not a hotel room to be found in Manhattan for under $300 a night and I’m sorry, I’m not quite hardcore about anyone enough to pay as much as it’d probably cost me to fly them up here and have them play in my living room. So net value of this paragraph? Uhhh… nothing.