Band of the Week: Land of Talk

Music Features Land of Talk
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Hometown: Montreal, Canada
Fun Fact: If you call the band out on popular indie blog, Brooklyn Vegan, expect a reply.
Why It’s Worth Watching: The band specializes in sparkling, complex rock with pristine, come-hither vocals.
For Fans Of: Blonde Redhead, Metric, Cat Power, PJ Harvey

There currently seems to be two camps of people out there in the world - those who have never heard of Montreal buzz band Land of Talk, and those who absolutely adore the group. The trio has been slowly amassing a base of devotees thanks to a relentless touring schedule. Case in point: the band members spoke to Paste by shouting into bassist Chris McCarron’s mobile en route to Ontario where they were wrapping up a string of opening dates for the Dears. High-profile gigs in their adopted secondary home base of New York have made them darlings of that city’s blogerati as well.

“[In] Montreal we’ve probably only played four shows in the past year," singer/songwriter Liz Powell explains. "In New York, we’ve played ten or fifteen.”

But the crazed hullabaloo over Land of Talk can’t just be attributed to their live shows. Its album, Applause Cheers Boo Hiss, is simply the most perfect debut of 2006 - a collection of shimmering, chord-rich songs that brighten and buzz like a sparkler on a summer night. From the first crashing moments of “Speak to Me Bones,” Land of Talk creates songs that feel heated from within with anger, sweetness and wonder. The band’s tendency toward heavily-arranged rock 'n' roll most likely stems from Powell’s orchestral origins: a young violinist who switched to fretless bass in high school before eventually picking up guitar. Friendships forged at Concordia University with drummer Bucky Wheaton and bassist Chris McCarron led to the band’s permanent line-up, but it didn’t happen immediately.

“Chris was always busy with other projects so we always had different bass players. [He] finally made some room in his very tight schedule,” Powell says with a laugh.

Powell is also causing a stir with her voice, a pure, bright mezzo that sounds like some sort of insane hybrid of Edie Brickell’s lazy lilt and Björk’s sweetest moments. When Land of Talk rocks on songs like “Summer Special,” she is all wide-eyed adolescent shout. When her bandmates slow the pace, she shifts into sweet, raspy vulnerability that seems as dangerously close to unraveling as their ever-shifting melodies. Immaculately angelic vocals also end up being a fantastic foil for lyrics like “Not every girl is a nail, you’re not a hammer.” Is this Powell’s way of telling some men they’re not all that?

“More like a stream of consciousness on a certain theme," she says. "There was a couple of things I was thinking about at the time but it’s more like images or scenes.” She pauses and reconsiders. “But yeah, if you put that all together it would be about lecherous perverts.”