Lower Lands

Canvas EP

Written by: TL on 08/10/2013 18:20:46

Please believe me dear readers, I hate sounding this dismissive, but as I'm re-reading my review of Lincoln quartet Lower Land's debut EP "Growing Pains", while listening to their follow-up to it, "Canvas", the only thing I can think is that every word I wrote in that review still applies to this release as well. Namely that the young UK four piece borrow a lot more than a word in their bandname from Lower Than Atlantis, to the point where they sound so dangerously like a "little brother band", that you can hardly appreciate them if you can't reconcile yourself somehow with this idolatry.

Of course that evaluation will mean nothing to you if your eyes haven't been on the British rock scene in later years, because you won't know who Lower Than Atlantis are, but let me then describe theirs and Lower Lands' sound as a British reinterpretation of the essential rock sound of the Foo Fighters - the one so rarely emulated with noticeable success: A modern take on organic rock which is built solely on the noise of real guitars and drums and forceful vocals, and with technology only ever applied in ways that amplify the original organic feeling of the sound.

The reason Foo Fighters are so successful however, and the reason I can think of few bands outside of Lower Than Atlantis that have made much impact with their mostly gimmick-free approach, is that it leaves everything resting on a band's ability to pen some straight up belters that can seize listeners' ears unaided by any sort of tricks. And while I found Lower Lands' convincing LTA impersonation fairly enjoyable on our last encounter, it was particularly this department I diagnosed a need for improvement in, if the band wanted to cultivate any hope of making a splash while remaining so stylistically parallel to their likely influences.

To be fair to Lower Lands, it seems there are more nuances now, for instance with the energetic vocals sliding up to a Straight Lines-ish shriek at a point in the title track which also includes a break towards the end that's sure to be a mover in the live setting. I also can't help but to like how the main riff of "Eat The Rich" sounds like a variation of the one in Jimmy Eat World's influential "Bleed American", and there's a funky flourish midway through "Wasted Youth" that sounds like the band may be starting to take a note from Don Broco. Overall however, if I sound dismissive it's because this branching out is only taking place in minute details, and I think there's too little improvement in the hooks and too little development in the overall style for any casual listener to make much note of. On the band's last EP they were "that new band that sounds almost like Lower Than Atlantis", but now they're "that band that still sounds like Lower Than Atlantis" and the devil really is in that detail, because Lower Land's lyrical explorations of band life in songs like "Wasted Youth" and "Line Check" simply aren't phrased as earpoppingly as LTA frontman Mike Duce's lines, nor are they sung with his intangible coolness.

To come full circle then, the point that I'm trying to make about "Canvas" is the same I tried making about "Growing Pains": Lower Than Atlantis already did this, and they did it better, so Lower Lands need to start penning some much catchier tunes if they want to stay this course, and even then, they might still be assigned that dreaded adjective "derivative". So unless you're desperately in the market for a sidecar to LTA's "World Record" and "Changing Tune", my suggestion is to hold out on these lads until they tweak things in just a slightly more original direction.


Download: Wasted Youth, Eat The Rich, Parasite
For The Fans Of: Lower Than Atlantis, Deaf Havana, Twin Atlantic, Don Broco
Listen: facebook.com/lowerlands

Release Date 10.06.2013
I Am Mighty Records

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