Loon Landing is something that is quite the rarity in the Internet era: a band with nearly no Internet presence. Aside from one Youtube video suggesting that they’re from Nashville and play indie rock music, there’s very little to learn about the group online. No Facebook page, no Bandcamp, nothing. There’s something to be said about a band that lets the music speak for itself. Loon Landing’s latest release, Ode to Suitman, is a breezy three song EP that, sadly, won’t leave most listeners with a strong idea of their identity.
The first track, “Junkie”, starts off Ode to Suitman with an interesting kick. The song does a nice job of balancing incredibly mellow verses with a faster, danceable chorus, though the real highlight is in the transition between the two. Just as the verses start to blur into malaise, the hook kicks in with a nice (and very surprising) shift of dynamics and tempo. It’s a real “gotcha” moment, and it definitely works. Lyrically, we aren’t dealing with anything incredibly innovative, however. Love can’t be resisted, you’re a junkie for her, you need your lady, et cetera, et cetera (didn’t Ke$ha already teach us that love is a drug?). Additionally, the vocals feel almost too smooth here. We need something to latch onto!
Thankfully, the next track adds a little grit into the singing. “1969” tells the story of an American soldier in the Vietnam War in a neo-bluesy style replete with plenty of palm mutes and jumping riffs. Think Black Keys, more or less. At times, the subject matter is approached in a thoughtful manner: “I want out of this hell, but I just can’t seem to die” definitely paints the picture of a young, patriotic person conflicted about their contributions to their country. Elsewhere, it’s conflicted: “killed another man last week, ain’t no trouble on my mind” and “now I’m cuttin’ down this jungle, you can run but you can’t hide” seem to conflict with the overall thesis of the track. They also somewhat invoke a level of cowbo- western braggadocio that feels both awkward and inappropriate. With that said, the song definitely isn’t bad, and the different sound offered is a nice switch-up.
The finale, “Suitman,” is where things start to go downhill. It’s about the monotony of a nine-to-five job and a decision to break free from it all, yet the song never comes close to communicating a sense of freedom sonically. It’s like a Train song minus the (annoyingly) catchy hook. The final minute of the song is…not good, featuring ill-advised scatting and half-baked harmonies of “goodbye, goodbye!” Everything about it is designed to be easily digestible and inoffensive, an ironic decision considering the subject matter.
With the final track off the table, listeners will be left wondering what Loons Landing is really all about. The main point of cohesion across the release is very nice recording quality, as well as pretty well-performed vocals throughout (despite the smoothness), and neither of these qualities offer much by way of personality or direction.
This isn’t the worst thing in the world, though. It’s good to see a band willing to try out different sounds, especially early on in their career. The musicians are definitely capable (the laid-back solo at the end of “Junkie” in particular shows this off), and it will be interesting to see where they end up taking their skills. A move deeper into the style of songwriting that “1969” offered would be a wise choice, but only time will tell.