On the eve of the New Year, with cliffs looming ahead and a year worth leaving behind at our heals, we give you cause to celebrate: two new tracks from Colorado musicians! This week, steal “Bombast” from Land Lines.
The beauty of the cello is that its voice sings with the tension of dark rosin dragging across strings. Like other bowed strings, but perhaps more so, it’s a voice that has seen some shit. It’s not the clear, clean, angelic beauty of Taylor Swift, but the rich, smoky hum of Johnny Cash. And call it a stretch, but this is a metaphor for Land Lines.
It’s difficult to talk about Land Lines without referencing Matson Jones, as unfair as that may seem. The Fort Collins four-piece was on the rise, not yet realizing its potential pinnacle in popularity, when they disbanded some years back, allowing members to pursue other ambitions. But lucky for us, cellists Martina Grbac and Anna Mascorella and drummer Ross Harada all happened to be in Denver, and their love of playing music together brought them together as Land Lines, essentially Matson Jones sans bassist Matt Regan. But do not be confused: This is not Matson Jones.
Whereas Matson Jones was brilliant at building tension and releasing, Land Lines offer little relief. This is not a criticism; this is the beauty of Land Lines. Like the cello at the heart of their music, Land Line sonority is absolutely gorgeous without denying life’s darker sides. Even when the rhythm is a solo shaker, the cello subtly plucked below a single voice, the tension can physically be felt building up, but there may or may not be a release. There may or may not be a happy ending.
On Jan. 5, Land Lines will release its first LP at Mercury Café. And the album leaves us breathless. You’d be hard pressed to find better baroque rock anywhere else. Grbac and Mascorella harmonize and weave both cellos and voices so adeptly that though they sometimes almost sound like they are playing two separate songs, but each thread comes together forming a whole. Harada’s unique style of drumming showcases Land Line’s expert use of space. He’s a master of keeping time and utilizes bass kicks, snare rolls, bells, and a host of other percussions to create accent trim rather than creating a hard foundation.
Below, find the album opener, “Bomb Blast,” for you to steal. The track is a slow, subtle build-up, and the irony is this track does offer a release, but only when it dovetails into the second track, “Anniversary.” You’ll just have to buy the album yourself for that relief.
Please note that downloads offered via Steal This Track are intended to whet your appetite, and are NOT CD-quality recordings. If you want those, please support the artists by buying their music and/or seeing them live.
If you’re a band or musician ready to expose your fresh sounds to the readers of Reverb, email your tracks — along with any interesting facts about them, as well as a photo or album art — to Steal This Track for consideration.
Josh Johnson is a Denver freelance writer and Reverb contributor. He is also a co-host/co-producer of the Denver podcast Denver Diatribe.