Review Rewind: Lands Farther East-There Goes the Atmosphere
1,405. that’s how many local recordings have been reviewed in What’s Up! over the last 15 years. Some good, some not so good, all offering something to the local scene and in these pages. A review was and will always be a band’s chance to get some press and show folks what they are doing. If a band lives around here, or on a local label, we review it and have never turned anyone away if they met one of those qualifications. Among the recordings reviewed, a few really stood out for one reason or another – it might have been how good it was or the impact it had on the scene or the statement at that time. This issue, we re-reviewed 15 of our favorite records over the last 15 years (and included a blurb from the original review) and talked not just about the music, but why the recording is important in the music scene’s history. Every one of these recordings should be on your iTunes, find ‘em, listen to ‘em, love ‘em. We do.
October 2002: “All the songs on the disc are beautiful and interesting without sounding pretentious. Each song sucks you in, grabs your mind and heart and won’t let go. The sound can’t be labeled by any traditional means; it’s not emo, it’s not indie rock, it’s not art rock. It’s Lands Farther East. It’s their own creation and it’s simply amazing.” –Brent Cole
Having been born and raised in Bellingham, I’ve waded through a tide of people coming and going, bands rising and falling. At the tender age of fourteen I saw my first local show in the long-since-closed Show Off Gallery, watching from a sea of much older, now familiar local faces. It was that night when a band took the stage and changed my life. That band was Lands Farther East.
I had loved music since I could walk, but up until that point I had never truly understood how powerful a performance could be. Mainstream radio and TV at the time was saturated by the idea of musicians as otherworldly beings. Posturing as unattainable rockstars was the attitude of the day, and when honesty broke through the cracks it was only as honest as it should be, not grab-you-by-the-heart-and-tear-you-into-pieces honest. Lands Farther East, however, was a truly honest band. They opened my eyes to a whole new world where you could gather your friends in a tiny basement, an old garage, a gutted church, and for moment everyone was a family screaming in unison, “Don’t know where home is, where are we going?” Just thinking about it almost brings tears of joy to my eyes. Don’t believe me? Well, you kind of had to be there.
As a fan of the group, I am aware of the b-sides, unreleased rarities and the 7-inch split with The Seizures, which are all amazing pieces of work in their own right. But nothing quite compares to their fundamental album, There Goes The Atmosphere. Recorded by Chris Walla of Death Cab For Cutie, it gave the band a technical vehicle to carry the raw power of those songs to the next level. The tones are solid, the mix is great, and most importantly you can turn it up loud. Walla must have agreed, because the stomping and clapping from Death Cab’s “The Sound Of Settling” seems suspiciously reminiscent of his recording of “Battle In The Garden Of Gods” by Lands Farther East the year earlier. It’s an incredible record, combining the best pieces of math-rock, pop, and prog into beautiful sonic movements.
People have asked me about the best musical performance I’ve ever seen. There are two. One was witnessing U2 in a massive stadium, Irish flags waving as far as you could see and a sound system that could crush an army. That’s a lot of power, but no amount of stadium anthem could ever compare to the emotional force of twenty people in a living room on Indian St., swaying from side to side as Mark Detrick, Ryan Soukkala and Josh Goodman crash through the ending bars of “Sometimes It’s Too Much.”