Elizabeth Powell and Land of Talk are a kind of indie rock conundrum. They had a great debut with Applause, Cheer, Boo, Hiss, followed that with the terrific Justin Vernon-produced Some Are Lakes, and just recently released the TUIW approved Fun and Laughter EP. On top of three great releases, they had a stint opening for indie superstars Broken Social Scene, which saw Powell stepping in for the female vocal parts originally recorded by the likes of Feist, Emily Haines, and Amy Milan. Despite an absence from performing, due to Powell losing her voice, Land of Talk should be hailed as one of the best up and coming bands out there. Yet somehow, they remain a hidden gem. As one guy at their show at Radio Radio in Indianapolis commented to me, “Why aren’t there more people here? These guys are huge on satellite radio!”
Smallish crowd size aside, Land of Talk rocked the doors off of Radio Radio Friday night. From the raucous opener, “Corner Phone,” through docile closer “Troubled,” the band played through a pleasing set list that showed off all of the band’s strong points and made a great case for them as a band that is one great album away from making the big time. Land of Talk doesn’t really have a polish on any of their studio releases, and live, they bring the same raw sound while being able to up the intensity and urgency of every song. Among the highlights of the set were rips through “All My Friends,” and “Some Are Lakes,” a more restrained take on “Young Bridge,” and a really fantastic performance of “It’s Okay.” On the latter, the band took the slow song and ratcheted it up at the end, taking it from a slow burn to a full out fireball. Noticeably missing from the set were only a few songs, Applause opener “Speak to Me Bones,” and the terrific “Death By Fire” from Some Are Lakes.
But the absence of those songs didn’t hurt the show in the least bit. Land of Talk are a superb live act that is perfectly in sync on stage. Powell manages to switch her voice back and forth between a punk aggressiveness and a devastating sweetness with unbelievable ease, as the band switches between the two throughout their set. The indie rock world is littered with bands that make a good record in their living room, but can’t back it up on stage. Land of Talk is not one of them. Every amount of energy heard on their record is amplified in the live show, and music that I thought I couldn’t like more was somehow even better live. Like I said, Land of Talk is really an album away from really getting big. How they haven’t yet is still a mystery to me, but soon enough, this great band is going to get their due.
Michael’s Score: 92
Tangled Up In Wires Grade: A