WXPN 88.5 Welcomes ...
Land Of Talk (solo), Palberta
2125 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19103
Doors 7:30 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is all ages
Life has been a whirl for Girlpool since the release of their acclaimed 2015 debut Before the World Was Big. Shortly before the record came out, Harmony Tividad (she/her) and Cleo Tucker (they/them) relocated from their hometown of Los Angeles all the way across the country to Philadelphia, where they quickly became embedded in the local D.I.Y. scene. “Before BTWWB, I was just out of high school, living in my old neighborhood,” recalls Cleo Tucker. “Then we started touring in a way we’d never done before. I really started to experience the duality that was beginning to exist in my life: tour/not on tour.” After a chaotic and informative year spent floating around the East Coast, both bandmates moved home to California at the start of 2017. Girlpool have been seemingly everywhere at once, exploring all the world’s offerings with open minds and notebooks. All the lessons they learned, about the earth and about themselves, are gathered together in their sophomore record and ANTI- debut, Powerplant.
Over 10 days in August 2016, Girlpool holed up at Los Angeles’ Comp-ny studios to record and mix Powerplant with Drew Fischer. For the first time, Harmony and Cleo were joined by a third performer, drummer Miles Wintner, a friend who easily meshed with the tightknit duo. The decision to add percussion came as a natural decision for Harmony and Cleo; “Cleo and I just were driving down the New Jersey turnpike when she mentioned that it might be exciting to expand our sound for the new songs,” says Harmony. “The songs we were writing had the potential of getting really climactic,” adds Cleo. “I think percussion adds a new part of the musical dynamic that we want to explore.“Girlpool’s eagerness to evolve should come as no surprise; in the same way that there were little traces of their self-titled EP on BTWWB, on Powerplant, the pair shed their old skins with more eagerness than before. “In some ways I feel more courageous and mature and in other ways I feel smaller and softer, sometimes even more fragile than ever,” says Harmony, adding that while the inner self is always changing, ultimately the end is a closer self-truth.
The 12 tracks that compose Powerplant grow and burn with greater fire than the duo have possessed heretofore. Both bandmates were heavily inspired by Elliott Smith, the Cranberries, the Cocteau Twins, Brian Eno, Arthur Russell, and Graham Nash; the influence of each appear in the record’s deliberate and intricate guitar work (“Fast Dust,” “She Goes By”) as well as its embrace of dissonant noise (“Corner Store,” “Soup”). Though they were living apart for most of the writing process, the pair still managed to write all but four songs together, another testament to their dedication to Girlpool and each other. Now 21 and 20, Harmony and Cleo confront projections, despondency, apathy, romanticization, love, and heartbreak with a more devastating emotional pragmatism than before. “Looking pretty at the wall is my mistake in love installed/While the moth doesn’t talk but in the dress the holes you saw,” they sing on opener “123,” perfectly refracting the truth. More humorous (but still heavily symbolic) lines are delivered with equal poignancy, like Harmony’s disclaimer on “It Gets More Blue,” “The nihilist tells you that nothing is true/I said I faked global warming just to get close to you.”
Both bandmates believe that radical vulnerability and honesty are essential to discovering oneself. “I see vulnerable softness as a place where the honest self can come forward,” Cleo explains, saying that on Powerplant, Girlpool aimed for sincere expression. “As a society I feel that we perceive softness and vulnerability as traits that are ‘weak,’ and people emotionally disconnect themselves in order to avoid going through everything they feel,” Harmony adds. “I think what is most important right now is empathy, and in order to have empathy we must first feel what we, ourselves, feel.” Perhaps what really makes Powerplant a home run is that Girlpool understand exactly how to use their incisive lyrics, soft textures, hushed harmonies, and soaring hooks for maximum emotional impact. In these moments, when Harmony and Cleo’s voices join together to deliver transcendent transmissions straight from their hearts, Girlpool become a league of their own.
Land Of Talk (solo)
"I don't want to waste it this time"
If anyone has earned the right to sing those words, it's Elizabeth Powell. Since forming Land of Talk in 2006, the one certainty in her life has been uncertainty, as her band has gone from being one of Montreal's most brash, buzzy indie rock acts to one of its most elusive and enigmatic. After recording Land of Talk's debut EP, Applause Cheer Boo Hiss, Elizabeth lost her drummer (the first in what would become a semi-regular pattern of line-up changes). After releasing Land of Talk's first full-length record, Some Are Lakes, in 2008, she lost her voice. And after the 2010 follow-up, Cloak and Cipher, she lost her will.
Elizabeth knew she needed a break from the album/tour/album/tour cycle after the Cloak and Cipher campaign ended-she just didn't plan on it becoming a full-blown hiatus. "I was just tired and felt a little disenchanted," she says. "I think that's very common-to feel industry-weary. I just couldn't do it. The only thing that was keeping me there was the music, and I think the music had become a footnote of the whole story. I wanted to get back to the music."
In 2011, Powell left Montreal behind and retreated to her grandparents' cottage near Lake Couchiching, Ontario "to do the Glenn Gould thing and hunker down and write some songs." But all her work was lost when her laptop irreparably crashed, taking all her GarageBand demos down with it. With Land of Talk, Elizabeth had survived multiple personnel changes and a vocal polyp that nearly robbed her of her ability to sing. But the combination of post-tour fatigue and the demoralizing loss of her new material brought her to a dead stop. "After that," she says, "I just didn't want to think about music at all. I kind of retired. It was a throw the baby out with the bathwater scenario."
After settling back into her hometown of Orillia, Ontario, Elizabeth was dealt an even more devastating blow on New Year's Day 2013: her father suffered a stroke, and all of Elizabeth's energies went toward caring for him. But in her darkest hour, the elder Powell provided Elizabeth with a guiding light. "I was visiting him in the hospital," she recalls, "and he just said, 'Come on, can you just do this now? Can you just get back to music?'"
Elizabeth went home and wrote "This Time," the song that ultimately served as the spark-and thematic focus-for a new Land of Talk record. It's the sound of Elizabeth rediscovering her musical muse, and unleashing the sort of do-or-die ardour that only comes when a life-altering event forces you to stare mortality in the face. "That's when it became more urgent and undeniable," Elizabeth says. "I just wanted to repeat those lyrics over and over again, because that's all I really had to say. At that point, music became a self-help thing, a coping mechanism-because music is how I understand myself and the world."
And just as Elizabeth was reconnecting with her passion for songwriting, she serendipitously reunited with a former foil: original Land of Talk drummer Bucky Wheaton, who emailed her out of the blue after falling out of contact for several years. Before long, the two were woodshedding new songs in Toronto at Broken Social Scene/Do Make Say Think bassist Charles Spearin's home jam space, and then booking time at Montreal's Breakglass Studios with the Besnard Lakes' Jace Lacek, who recorded the first Land of Talk EP (and, for this new record, shared bass duties with wife/bandmate Olga "Oggie" Goreas). "Without sounding too gushy, it's been a beautiful reunion," Elizabeth says. "This album became my homecoming to Montreal."
But if Land of Talk's new album, Life After Youth, recreates the same conditions and recruits much of the same personnel that produced Land of Talk's scrappy debut EP, the end result is dramatically different than anything the band has attempted before. While caring for her father, Elizabeth fell under the spell of classical, ambient, and Japanese tonkori music, whose meditative quality aided his recovery. Immersing herself in those sounds would change her entire approach to music-making; she started writing songs without her trusty guitar, instead building tracks up from synth beds and programmed loops. "Because I was feeling so stripped down and having powerful realizations and emotions about life, I wanted to get away from guitar into more hypnotic synth sounds," she says. "I wanted things to be more lulling and comforting."
Life After Youth's centerpiece track, "Inner Lover," presents the most radical results of those experiments. It's an audio Rorschach test of a song: key in on the incessant synth pulse underpinning Elizabeth's pleading vocal ("take care of me!") and the track assumes an ominous intensity. But when you surrender to the relaxed drum counter-rhythm and subliminal harmonies, "Inner Lover" projects a graceful serenity.
Even the songs built atop more traditional rock foundations exist in that liminal space between dreaming and waking life, confidence and doubt, raw feelings and soothing sounds. "Yes You Were" opens the record with a cold-start surge that's overwhelming in its immediacy, with Elizabeth's furiously strummed guitar jangle and wistful lyricism bearing all the adrenalized excitement and nervous energy of seeing old friends (or, in her case, fans) for the first time in ages. And as its title suggests, "Heartcore" is a collision of soft-focus sonics and emotional intensity, with Elizabeth's crystalline vocals hovering above a taut, relentless backbeat and disorienting synth squiggles. Even the turn-a-new-leaf optimism of "This Time" is presented less as a triumphant comeback statement than a warm reassuring embrace-its beautifully dazed 'n' confused psych-pop swirl acts as a calming force as you hurtle toward life's great unknown.
"It just seems like when we play that song, it seems to give people levity in the room and everyone lightens up and I think that's worth its weight in gold," says Elizabeth. "That's all I feel I'm trying to create: moods that are very conducive to connecting, that make people feel good enough to let their guard down and let them know it's okay to just open up."
Fitting for a song about reconnecting with the world, "This Time" was the product of another fortuitous reunion-between Elizabeth and her old friend Sharon Van Etten, who lent her songwriting smarts and heavenly harmonies to that track, as well as "Heartcore" and the Fleetwood Mac-worthy "Loving." And Van Etten is just one member of a veritable indie-rock dream team Elizabeth recruited to complete the album: the moonlit ballad "In Florida" was recorded by producer John Agnello (Dinosaur Jr., Kurt Vile) in his New Jersey studio, with Elizabeth backed by former Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley and Roxy Music/Sparks bassist Sal Maida.
From Montreal to Orillia to Toronto to New Jersey and back to Montreal again, the story of Life After Youth resembles one of those Raiders of the Lost Ark maps with the red routing lines bouncing back and forth into a blur-"which is kind of like what my brain is like," Elizabeth says with a laugh. But from that mental and geographic scramble, a work of great focus and clarity has emerged. The last time Elizabeth Powell brought new music into the world, Justin Bieber didn't have a criminal record, tinder was just something you used to start a campfire, and Donald Trump's assholery was still safely confined to reality-TV shows. To paraphrase the late David Bowie, it's been seven years, and Elizabeth's brain hurt a lot. But she stands today as the patient-zero case study for Life After Youth's therapeutic powers. These are the songs that got her through the tough times. And now, they can do the same for you.
In an industry that favors niche branding and subgenre packaging, Palberta is a difficult band to place. Their music is free and uninhibited in a way that makes it all their own. Often, Palberta songs are marked with a child-like communication -- chants and lullabies are met with snarling tantrums, while their instruments coo and careen towards an often abrupt finish. Their playful approach to writing produces work that is hyper-emotional -- as jarring as it is soothing and as loopy as it is sinister.
Palbetra was formed when Lily Konigsberg, Anina Ivry-Block, and Nina Ryser met while attending Bard College. They honed their sound in basements across the Hudson valley, and quickly gained a reputation for their brazen and feverish live shows. Through prolific touring and recording, they have developed a dedicated nation-wide following without the aid of a major label. Outside of the band, the three of them actively pursue solo endeavors, with Palberta serving as a culminating force - a band driven by uncompromising personality.
"Bye Bye Berta" is their seventh release and their most sonicly expansive release yet. Recorded by frequent collaborator Paco Cathcart at a library in Roxbury, Connecticut, the record features contributions from artists in their community.