Land of Talk
October 9, 2010
Detroit Bar Costa Mesa
The Show: Hailing from the incestuous indie music scene of Montreal, we have the Land of Talk. And in case you were wondering, they are in fact another band associated with Broken Social Scene. (The session players from the Band Stars appeared on their latest album.)
Cloak and Cipher was released through Omaha label Saddle Creek in August and also benefited from session work provided by members of the supremely awesome Arcade Fire. And despite some glaring similarities in the sound of their music with some of their forebears, The Land of Talk put on a top-rate show.
Throughout the nearly hour-long set, the band's ranks swelled at times to seven members which included two added percussionists: one shaking a bottle of liquid and the other furiously working a floor tom. Occasionally the singer of opening act Besnard Lakes, Jace Lasek, would emerge from the audience to offer some backing vocals of his own. Despite the casual, jam-session vibe of the performance, all vocals were delivered with pitch-perfect precision and in three parts.
Lead singer and creative driving force of the band, Elizabeth Powell, looking like a waifish tomboy clad in jeans and a cotton shirt with bangs draped across her eyes, sang in a voice immediately at odds with her masculine adolescent aesthetic. At once youthful and beautifully feminine, Powell's thin vocals are a tad reminiscent of indie songstress Mirah.
During such tunes as "Swift Coin," Powell would coo and strum serenly with eyes closed, then bang her head like a bobble doll when the squawking guitar solo kicked in. This song with it's unconventional guitar tuning bore an interesting similarity to Jets to Brazil's "Starry Configurations."
Land of Talk was preceded by Besnard Lakes whose sludgy psychedelic rock featured the high-pitched vocals of singer/producer Jace Lasek. It's been my experience that a band with this type of slow-burning sound is often an acquired taste. Most of the songs seemed to melt in to one another and were largely wasted on me. The set closed however with an intense slow-building number ending in a powerful crescendo called "And You Lied to Me," from 2007s Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse.The soaring guitar melodies backed by thunderous percussion perked me up and redirected my waining attention.
The Crowd: Unusually thin for Detroit on a Saturday night. By the end of Land of Talk's set, there were perhaps little more than 50 people in the room.
Personal Bias: I'm a sucker for bands from Canada.
Set List: Believe it or not, these guys don't play with one.
Overheard: "So what is Costa Mesa German for?" asked one of the members of Besnard Lakes. "¡Chinga tu madre!" responded someone in the crowd.