Landed - "Times I Despise" (How Little Will It Take)
As attention to the goings on in and around Providence, Rhode Island, has ebbed and flowed over the past few years, it’s interesting to note that little mind has ever been paid to Landed. At work in that city for over a decade now (on and off), the band built their reputation as a live act, with the records either failing to do the group justice or slipping out of print at a time when their work in the realm of nutjob punk would be more fully appreciated.
How Little Will It Take isn’t a complete collection of those long gone sides, but it works well as a chart of the group’s trajectory. Grabbing the whole of their recent Times I Despise LP along with the top half of the Dairy for Dinner 7”, and a few scattered compilation and live tracks, these two discs paint in portrait a band that has always managed to be the funhouse mirror reflection of their surroundings, one that takes a dominant sound and spits it back distorted and ugly. In truth, playing these tracks front to back almost recreate the evolution of Providence’s sound since the mid-’90s, albeit dropped on the floor and reassembled by a bunch of weirdos.
A large part of that reflexivity is undoubtedly due to membership. With an ex-members list that reads like a relative who’s who of Providence art and music over the past decade (including all of Lightning Bolt, Forcefield’s Matt Brinkman, and Renaissance man John Dwyer, to name but a few), it’s not surprising that these songs bound from tensely rhythmic, somewhat limber screamers (“War/Us vs. Them (and You)”), to monotonous, rust and grime adorned brocades of terse repetition (the methodically plodding “Shopping Spree”), to impressive swaths of detuned, slothy, lunkhead rock (“Why I Live”). And yet, while drum patterns might call to mind Lightning Bolt, or guitar lines occasionally hew fairly close to Six Finger Satellite territory, Shawn Greenlee and Joel Kyack still manage to differentiate enough to make this stuff sound like more than just the stuff of an also-ran.
Though vocalist Dan St. Jacques has also been a constant since day one, the words always seem like an afterthought, phrasings choked with gnarled feedback more than any inherent meaning. Not that there’s necessarily supposed to be any – his role with the microphone has always been more important in a live setting, where he’s the man willing to set himself on fire to start the show. All the same, that’s the only major drawback with How Little Will It Take: It doesn’t come close to illustrating the complex mixture of hilarity and terror that often results when you get trapped in a room with Landed. The sounds themselves are still more than worth a listen, though, and in the absence of seeing them out, you could always turn the volume way up and hold a torch dangerously close to your pants.