Land of Talk
Some Are Lakes
The project of Elizabeth Powell, Land of Talk is defined by their intense guitar playing and keening, vibrato-heavy vocals.
When Land of Talk emerged in 2006 with Applause Cheer Boo Hiss, their spiky, raucous sound evoked the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but their sound soon grew more nuanced; on 2008's Some Are Lakes, they gave equal time to the prettiness of their music as well as its bite. After a lengthy hiatus during which Powell considered quitting music altogether, Land of Talk experienced a creative rebirth with 2017's gently eclectic Life After Youth and Indistinct Conversations, both of which featured expansive sounds and clear-eyed, confessional songwriting.
Powell started writing and playing songs at age 14 while growing up in Guelph, Ontario. Later, she played with the Aaron Riches Nuclear Family Band and the Valentines and performed as a solo artist, releasing an album under the name ELE_K* in 2003. While enrolled in Concordia University's jazz program, she met bassist Blake Markle and drummer Mark "Bucky" Wheaton. They formed Land of Talk in 2006, taking inspiration from PJ Harvey, Dinosaur Jr., and Sonic Youth for the project's sound. By the time they recorded their debut album, April 2006's Applause Cheer Boo Hiss, Tim Kramer had taken over bass duties. More lineup changes followed in 2007, with Kramer and Wheaton leaving Land of Talk, and bassist Chris McCarron and drummer Eric Thibodeau joining.
Land of Talk moved to Saddle Creek for its second-full length, 2008's Some Are Lakes, a more eclectic, melodic album produced by Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and featuring the Slip's Andrew Barr on drums. Around this time, Powell also became a touring member of Broken Social Scene. Following a tour with that band, McCarron left to play guitar with the Dears. Bassist Joe Yarmush joined soon after, and Land of Talk issued the Fun and Laughter EP in October 2009. While recuperating from a problem with her vocal cords, Powell wrote Land of Talk's third album Cloak and Cipher. Released in August 2010, it featured contributions from members of Stars, Arcade Fire, and the Besnard Lakes.
Following Cloak and Cipher's release, Land of Talk went on an extended break provoked by exhaustion, lost demos, and family illness. In April of 2015, Powell played her first show in four years at Orilla, Ontario's Roots North Music Festival. Several Land of Talk shows in 2016 led up to the May 2017 release of Life After Youth, an album inspired by the sounds that aided Powell's father's recovery from a stroke, including ambient, classical, and the tonkori, a traditional Japanese stringed instrument. Produced by John Agnello, the album found Wheaton and McCarron returning to the fold, and also counted Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley, Sharon Van Etten, and the Besnard Lakes among its contributors. With Land of Talk back in the swing of things, Powell began writing songs for their next album in 2018. In 2019, she appeared on the American Football song "Every Wave to Ever Rise." After an early 2020 tour with Wolf Parade, Land of Talk returned that July with Indistinct Conversations, an intimate, acoustic-based set that the band co-produced and recorded in a studio McCarron built in Wheaton's basement. ~ Heather Phares & MacKenzie Wilson, Rovi