Reviews

Fun and Laughter

Author: Kevin Farr
10/27/2009 | San Diego Examiner | www.examiner.com | Live Show Preview
Land of Talk began their fall tour in support of their new E.P. "Fun and Laughter" at Lou's Records yesterday and will play Casbah tonight with Eulogies & Black Mamba. The past year has been an interesting and progressive year for LOT. They went through line-up change last year; the new line-up has founder Lizzie Powell on vocals and guitars, Joe Yarmush on bass, Andrew Barr (of The Slip) on drums.; Chris McCarron left on good terms to play with The Dears.

Their new E.P. "Fun and Laughter" is an elegant album, with soft-lulling vocals tucked in the back ground and soft-floating guitars in the forefront. "Fun and Laughter" remains complex in structure and visceral in style creating an almost ethereal like feel. Lizzie attributes the sound and mix on the new album to her issues with vocal stress. Regardless, of the impetus to record such an E.P., it exemplifies the artistic integrity of Elizabeth Powell and Land of Talk. And one can only assume the new album will be the same vein of art-rock which have come before. Though, Elizabeth says, "the new album we just finished recording, but Jace (Producer/Engineer) stripped the bullsh-t and pushed my voice "…into the light" as I see it."

Below is a transcript of an interview in the ether…via email or iphone or something.

I read that you had voice surgery earlier this year…how is everything? Was it because of losing your voice form touring?
looking back, it seems like a no-brainer. constant touring, vocal overuse, vocal misuse, poor lifestyle habits, and the emotional stress of all this plus a brutal break-up. My body went into full revolt. and, as the voice box seems to be singers' Achilles heels, the voice was the first thing to go. I had pre-existing nodes on my vocal cords which would have healed had i taken a year off (which was not an option for me at the time... or so it seemed that way). my voice was constantly competing with my guitar and the cymbals so I was pushing way harder to get the sound out, which put my body in a constant state of tension. i eventually developed a polyp on my left vocal cord, was warned by my ENT Doc that it would hemorrhage and potentially burst, and- despite her advice- went on tour with Broken Social Scene as opening band and as singer/guitarist. sure enough, my polyp bled out, engorging the surrounding tissue and thus basically paralyzing my vocal chords. they couldn't' vibrate.
so, we cancelled all tours for 6 months, i wrote in a note pad for 2 weeks instead of speaking. with a ton of effort i quit most of my bad habits. i started singing lessons with super rehabilitative vocal coach, Marcin Brzezinzki. in-ear monitors, acupuncture, good night's sleep, eating well, learning how to calm my brain and relax, following the great advice of hardworking, great singers; Basia Bhulat, Leslie Feist, Lisa "Cowbella" Iwanicky. I am very grateful for their care, concern and help. i'm sure i will slip into old singing habits and go through vocal problems in the future, but will be able to identify and deal with the issue instead of pretending it's not happening and then subsequently freaking out and feeling helpless when sh-t hits the fan. and i will tread a bit lighter than i used to. wow. just realized how long this answer is. The theme song to "The Never Ending Story" just popped into my mind. sh-t.

How did it impact your singing and writing? Did you feel more cautious?
at first i was terrified to sing. i didn't even enjoy talking anymore. i just stayed at home and watched TV, got depressed, watched more TV got more depressed. Then i whipped out my laptop and started recording ideas on garage band. i would record vocal sketches super softly in my closet (i don't know why there). my voice sounded so weak and terrified so i would drench them in guitar effects plug-ins like "British Invasion", "Dreamy Shimmer", "New Nashville", etc... in an attempt to boost the guts of my voice. all of these songs ended up on "Fun&Laughter" and the new album we just finished recording, but Jace (Producer/Engineer) stripped the bullsh-t and pushed my voice "into the light" as i see it.

I noticed you studied Jazz at Concordia…how influential is that training in your current song-writing process?
the only influence Concordia had on my was to drop out and stop wasting my time. I met Bucky (the original drummer) there so that was the best thing about that school. don't get me wrong. i love jazz. i just can't learn how to play music to save my life. i don't even know how i got accepted to that school. i would love to get my hands on my audition tape where i sang "god bless the child" (horribly)

I've seen the title, "Indie-pop" slap on the band…how do you feel about the title? And how would you describe your sound to fans?
indie pop is fine. it doesn't really matter i don't think. does it?

Tell me a little about the artistic concept on the website?
it's acutally just a page to direct people to our myspace, facebook, and online store. our wizard friend set it up and i love what happens when you sweep the cursor over the alligator snout. haha.

Can you tell me a few things you enjoy about touring and a few things you dislike about touring?
i used to hate touring and now i love it. i think it's an attitude thing. i improved mine.
Is there a standout venue you are really looking forward to playing on this tour?
THE DOUG FIR in portland. i love that place. and the adjoining 'Jupiter Hotel" with chalkboards on the room doors. cool. i remember we toured with the rosebuds two summers ago and after a hilariously debaucherous night we awoke to images and words on those chalkboards that no one should ever have to see.

What have you loaded in you Ipod for this tour?
OOH. we have a fantastic soundguy/TM, Ephriam, who has just introduced us to... THE OH SEES. you might want to check them out as they are ruling rulers.i always love to listen to Beach House, Atlas Sound, Al Green, sun kil moon, Midlake, WIlco, Lil Wayne, Dolly Parton, Karen Dalton, Michael Head &The Strands, Smog, Wu-tang, Louis CK, Patten Oswald, David Cross, Ricky Gervais podcasts. we played in the parking lot of Lou's Records in Encinitas yesterday and i bought all of the Roches' records and an early Bonnie Raitt record which i will have to listen to when i get home 'cause the record player in our tour van is busted.

Do you think there are any draw backs to web 2.0 artist promotions? Or do you feel that good music will always prevail?
i guess the main drawback would be for the artist who can't back his/her hype/marketing. that's just depressing. and i subscribe to the belief that one cannot polish a turd. and i should know.

Any plans for working with Broken Social Scene after the tour?
i don't know about work, but there will definitely be some play.


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