Debut records are always a treat. Without the expectations associated with a previously released album, you really have nothing to compare it to. It’s par for the course, though, that this can have both positive and negative consequences. Positive, because if the album speaks for itself and has a sound all its own, it will set a nice pace for a follow-up. Negative, because if you’re having trouble getting people to listen, comparing your sound to established acts becomes important.
Going down that route, in my mind, forever says: “We’re that band that sounds like so-and-so,” which is an incredibly difficult perception to break away from down the road.
Cue Lost Lander, a Portland based alt-rock group with a penchant for straightforward, subtlely hooky song writing. The band’s incorporation of a wide range of instrumentation in their debut DRRT runs alongside a constant variation in structure and provides a pleasant, if not wholly original, perspective. The band shows off a certain flare for alternative fused with indie rock and a bit of blues, but certainly isn’t afraid to try their hands at a great many other styles. Whistles, strings, percussive quirks and string sections meld fluidly to create unique textures that push the band well beyond the realm of “good”.
Throughout my many listens, I couldn’t shake the sneaking suspicion that the band mirrored the sound of a certain other band, but couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Sure enough, after some research, I found that they were opening for Blind Pilot – a fellow Portland native. I had discovered the connection, but later found that the similarities were not as profound as I had initially feared. While DRRT surely echoes the general tone of Blind Pilot’s most recent album, their likeness is overshadowed by the Lost Lander’s more experimental decisions. That’s not to say one band is better than the other, but simply that they do not sound as alike as their first impression may lead you to believe.
Production is also top-notch, and takes on a characteristic all its own. As a result, the overall theme – outer space – is well represended throughout the album. Lyrically, aurally, and artwork-ily, Lost Lander, along with producers Brent Knopf and Matt Sheehy, do a wonderful job addressing the subject, without making it feel shoehorned into the record. The production simply paints a picture and lets it hang, allowing the listener get lost in its translation.
While DRRT stands as a hugely successful inaugural effort for the band, it does tend to languish toward its backside. As the album progresses, gone are the impactful design of tracks like “Cold Feet“, “Afraid of Summer” or “Belly of the Bird / Valentina“; which is replaced by some generally lackluster songs. The exception to this is the album closer “Your Name is a Fire“, which does impart at least some of the style found in the first half.
Overall, the album functions as a solid introduction to a band brimming with potential. Comparisons to other artists are inevitable, but after some listens, those similarities melt away from the unwavering foundation underneath. Unfortunately for them, the band has set themselves up with a difficult album to beat for the next time around.
Sounds like: Blind Pilot, The Shins
Stand out tracks:
“Cold Feet”“Afraid of Summer”“Belly of the Bird / Valentina”
Take a listen to my home-brewed instrumental/electronic/indie album
"Where Were We When" and download it for as many coconuts as you can spare.
Coconuts are delicious, though their milk tastes like pond water.