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Album Review: Lands & Peoples – Lands & Peoples EP (Unsigned)

lands & peoples ep

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MP3: Lands and Peoples – Bad Habits

This is only their second EP, and I daresay Lands & Peoples are one of the most intriguing new projects to sprout out of our city’s fertile musical soil.

There will undoubtedly be comparisons to other, more prominent textural haze-languishers on the scene, Beach House.  And there are definite similarities, as both make liberal use of echo-chamber vocals, warm and foggy aural landscapes, and a consistently slow-to-mid-tempo trot. Beach House reaches internally to wrangle dense and massive, backwards-gazing phantasmagoria, Lands & Peoples add a twist, willfully emerging from the haze for stark moments of lucidity.  In Beach House, I see awe-inspiring, almost otherworldly power whereas Lands & Peoples aims to better capture those more precious, personal moments.

Their sound is, in a sense, quite of the moment.  Tying together the threads of some of the most gorgeously couched pop in circulation today.  The intro track “Six Weeks” swells with a swirling, amorphous sound mass reminiscent of High Places.  Vocal oohs fade in and out eerily, looped electronic fuzz and delicate percussive lines slowly layer atop one another, like drizzling molasses coating everything.  ”Bad Habits” builds further on this, taking some cues from Beach House’s dilapidated melodic progressions and the lingering, full vocals.  The juxtaposition of simple, staccato percussion lines provide a great, propulsive foil.  Where Beach House often feels so big it is almost overwhelming, Lands & Peoples are more prone to receding into a more fragile and nimble beast.  But this is not to say that L&P play the role of the timid wisp, as “Bad Habits” eventually works up the nerve to become quite the lush number.

“Awake” starts with glitched-out, downtuned synth lines before Moore’s voice punches through like some vivid mirage through a desert haze as the synth loop churns ever forward, a persistent tide of somnambulence.  The track also showcases some nice vocal acrobatics and harmonies with Beau Cole. The gorgeously seductive “Isabella” is a mind-blowing shift, and far and away the best track on the album.  Well worth the price of admission, the sparse guitar lines and longing,  rich vocal harmonies loom hauntingly.  The vulnerable tone shift of the guitar and vocals from mournful to gentle, optimistic lullaby is inspired.  Nothing short of bliss.  ”Cars Like Waves” rounds out the EP first with a gentle instrumental half, followed by something like a distorted melody ripped from a children’s carousel or funhouse.

Lands & Peoples traffic in rich, tender aural textures with a distinctly personal element, churning out one of the most promising releases from the local scene this year.  Catch them tonight at the Talking Head as they return from their tour to open for Philly’s Kurt Vile.

If you like “Bad Habits” and what you’ve read, pick up the album on the group’s Bandcamp site.

Conflict of Interest: Caleb Moore has contributed to Aural States before, but I think I am pretty unbiased in my assessments.  I mean, look how badly I treated him during his short-lived stint as Thrust Lab’s lead singer.

Label: Unsigned

Release Date: Jul 25 2009

Track list:
1. Introduction (Six Weeks)
2. Bad Habits
3. Awake
4. Isabella
5. Cars Like Waves