Double Play: CANT & Landmine Marathon

Two reviews for the price of none!

Iann Robinsonby Iann Robinson


Dreams Come True

Terrible Records

Chris Taylor, bassist and producer for the Brooklyn band Grizzly Bear has stepped into the limelight with his new solo project CANT. Like Grizzly Bear, Taylor fuses melancholy harmonies, electronic music, acoustic guitars and keyboards into a quiet symphony of sadness. Being somewhat of a Grizzly Bear fan, I was surprised just how uninspired CANT sound. Don’t get me wrong, CANT’s new album Dreams Come True isn’t bad and I love ethereal electronic music based around soundscapes and lush instrumental peeks, but by the time this record crawls to end, I was left with little more than indifference.

At first CANT seemed to be heading in a good direction. The opening track to Dreams Come True, “Too Late Too Far” kicks in with a booty shaking beat, which is then layered with eighties sounding synth work and dreamy vocals. The song comes across like Bjork screwed Depeche Mode and gave birth to a bouncing, dancey, baby boy.  I was into the idea of those mellow Grizzly Bear sensibilities being fused with a more upbeat temp. That idea crashes down with the second track, “Believe”, which sounds like something Kajagoo recorded and forgot about. It’s clear that Taylor spent a lot of time listening to old soul records and mid-eighties new wave. On paper the idea of that fusion seems wonderful but somehow it becomes lost in the translation to music.

“Bang” tries to enter into some Jandek territory with Taylor plucking odd chords on a guitar while he sings hauntingly and just slightly inaudibly. The Jandek elements work until the by the numbers beat clicks in and suddenly you’re in a decade old commercial for Casio keyboards.  “Broken Collar” is a milestone because it proves that even in 54 seconds a song can be pretentious and annoying. Taylor packs so much into what he’s doing and I respect him for that. It just isn’t any fun to listen to.

Elementally Dreams Come True should work. The smooth synths, Taylor’s wonderful voice, the John Carpenter soundtrack beats combined with the electronic soul of the eighties, all these things are quality parts. However, Taylor can’t bring them together into something more. Nothing here transcends the hipster genre of post-eighties synth music and thusly, Dreams Come True becomes uninteresting. Taylor is a victim of the trappings of his own genre. Indie music tends to ride alongside the disassociated, above-it-all, ironic coolness vibe that the followers aspire to. Taylor’s creative vision is marred by these leanings and never escapes it. In short, you never feel as if Taylor cares about what he’s doing.

All isn’t lost on Dreams Come True. “Answer” is an airy, light, and upbeat number that brings much needed life into this dreary exercise. The title track uses over-biased production really nicely, giving the low end some solid thump and stitching it within the framework of the more experimental elements. This was what I had hoped the whole record would be like. I was excited to hear Taylor step outside of Grizzly Bear’s shadow and claim his own territory. That never happens. Dreams Come True is a flat record that can’t seem to get out of its own way long enough to become anything more than background theme music for the PBR Indie crowd.  



Landmine Marathon


Prosthetic Records

Landmine Marathon are another in the line of hyper-violent, Black Metal inspired grindcore music that’s lorded over by a really hot girl. Like Iwrestledabearonce, Landmine Marathon spray blasts of ugly and brutal metal while their hot vocalist screams and screeches her head off. It’s an interesting juxtaposition since this kind of music is usually left to ugly men.

Landmine Marathon’s newest metal submission, Gallows, has all the things that usually go along with these records. Blast beats, face-ripping-off guitars, and a real aversion to dynamics. Bands like Landmine Marathon are driven to bleed their poisons on you by treating their music like kamikaze bombers attempting to reap as much destruction as they can with one blast.

 Where LM set themselves apart is their nod to the world of thrash. So many bands in this metal sub-genre are all about the BLAST!! BLAST BLAST FAST FAST BLAST BLAST FAST FAST. The whole thing becomes like a mantra, one that’s easily forgettable. Landmine Marathon pepper Gallows with some actual bonafide chunky riffs. “Three Snakes Leave” (a title that should have included Four Snakes Enter, but I digress) explodes out of the gate with a death metal style riff, all speed and no flavor. Vocalist Grace Perry wails and cries like a rabid banshee caught in a bear trap over the riff, bringing the energy to a frenetic state. Then, suddenly, Landmine Marathon drops a thrash riff into the jam. All at once you’ve stopped beating your fists into walls so you can make with a good head banging.

Most of the songs on Gallows come equipped with a solid riff that shows off the band’s ability to play outside the fast box. I particularly liked the slow Melvins feel of “3 Knife From My Sleeve” I just wish the song had stayed that way. The super fast ending feels tacked on, as if the band didn’t know how to end a slow jam.

While a solid album from end to end, Gallows never rises above the rest of Landmine Marathon’s discography. Granted what they do is better than most in their genre but that just means I expect more from them. This band has nothing left to prove and while Grace Perry doesn’t turn away from her sexuality (see Revolver’s Hottest Chicks In Metal) it’s been a long time since the band was judged on that.

I want Landmine Marathon to release a record that will blow the hinges off of what they’ve done before. Gallows is a strong record, but it’s a safe one. Fuck safe, Landmine Marathon has garnered enough respect and posses enough talent that whatever musical ideas they come up with can be squeezed into what they do. If the band decides to just keep doing what’s expected of them, they’ll remain one of the better metal acts out there. If they decide to push themselves and really stretch the boundaries of their musical gifts, Landmine Marathon would become something much, much greater.