Landowner Impressive Almanac LP

One of my faves from last year, LANDOWNER’s Consultant was a true masterclass in smart-aleck punk as performed by young men who had ingested entirely too much coffee. For this re-release, Born Yesterday takes LANDOWNER’s debut cassette and commits it to the permanent record. If you dig LANDOWNER’s other two albums, you will be in familiar territory. Here, LANDOWNER is represented by principal architect Dan Shaw. He not only writes all the songs; on Impressive Almanac, he’s playing everything, including programming the drum machine. Shaw mines MINUTEMEN precision and RUDIMENTARY PENI mania to craft expert punk nervosa. Maybe it’s that drum machine that enables this initial batch of Shaw’s songs to seem even more frantic, sometimes coming off like the FEELIES trying out distortion-free powerviolence. It’s always been a bold move in the punk world to forgo the fuzz, but with LANDOWNER it pays off in dividends. This is head music for speed thinkers. The songs are always tense and driving, but the focus shifts to the greater whole, even as it’s constructed with tiny moments of meticulous concentration. Shaw often sounds like he is urgently whispering to you, and it makes you conscious of how much time you spend getting yelled at by singers (and teachers and bosses and cops). But it’s not all swift kicks and snarky lyrics, as there’s plenty of forceful yet twinkling tracks like “Shimmering Neck” and “Ancestral Home.” “Places to Put Cars” positions itself as the first in several key LANDOWNER songs about parking. Straight up—Shaw is currently one of the best songwriters in punk and this welcome reissue reveals that that has been the case for a while now. 

Landowner Consultant LP

People, I am here to tell you how much LANDOWNER absolutely fucking rules. They play tightly-coiled rock music that is in constant motion while appearing to remain perfectly still. It’s a neat trick, this hummingbird punk trip, but these guys got songs too—LANDOWNER nags you with their flitting, arid smart aleck takes. Imagine NOMEANSNO stripped of their exaggerated bluster (to be sure, a large part of that unit’s charm) or the MINUTEMEN time-warped into the 21st century. “Victim Of Redlining” corkscrews into your head with a relentless bass riff, a D. Boon guitar lick, and lyrics spat out like the speaker has been sitting stewing in anticipation of five minutes of facetime. “Swiss Pavilion” dissects city planning with wit and brevity, addressing public spaces, parking concerns and the narrator’s desire to achieve urban nirvana. In the context of punk, LANDOWNER’s music is understated yet contains an undeniable ferocity. Despite its lack of a “sick riff,” “Being Told You’re Wrong” is closer in spirit to MINOR THREAT than a thousand generic straightedge bands. LANDOWNER utilizes clean tones, repetition, and interlocking guitar/bass lines to build spaces that are there to serve a purpose, more tool than structure. On album highlight “This Could Mean Something,” singer/mastermind Dan Shaw is “Talking to the wall / ’Til it starts talking back” as the band veers into US MAPLE territory. “Confrontation” adds synth and shares sympathies with PATOIS COUNSELORS, while “Mystery Solved” sketches an existential story of an IT worker over seven tense minutes. But don’t get it twisted—Consultant is occupied with churning, propulsive music. Hardcore is inverted. Pointillist-brutalism is engaged. Patterns are melodies and whispers are screams. This album leaves invisible bruises like pillowcases filled with bars of soap. A bright spot during these last dark months, no doubt.