The Landmarks Embrace Ambition and Forgo Genre Constrictions With Mythological Future/s?! (KEXP Premiere)

Local Music, KEXP Premiere
Dusty Henry
Photo by Eric Luck

One of my favorite things about the Internet era of music is how artists get to dictate their own genres. Speedy Ortiz famously dubbed themselves as “snack rock,” Portland’s Cool American call themselves “dorito pop”, and there’s an entire movement of music is burgeoning under the name “naturewave” (should you opt to trevass the depths of Bandcamp, I highly recommend it). But I’m particularly fond of how Seattle-via-Ann Arbor quintet The Landmarks describe themselves on their Facebook page: “Indie Blah Blah.”

It’s easy to take that descriptor with a healthy dose of cynicism. After all, these days you can add “indie” to any genre and that’s supposed to mean something to someone – not to mention how much that term is used to sell you on corporate sponsored indie brunch playlists. But for The Landmarks, I think you can interpret it as more than a joke. Indie pop, indie rock, indie whatever – it doesn’t really matter. The group is willing to embrace whatever sounds they need to execute their zealous musical vision. To get what I mean, you need not look further than their latest EP, Mythological Future/s?!, out this Friday, May 4.

The five songs on this EP exemplify the band’s broad ambitions with a healthy dose of psychic energy to hold it together. Opener “Cruisin’” careens into view like the Star Destroyer at the beginning of Star Wars: A New Hope – slowly crawling across your view before finally covering everything in its overwhelming totality. Except instead of destroying you, The Landmarks are engulfing you with danceable, new wave hooks and ‘00s New York rock pastiche. And just when you get into the groove, The Landmarks show some of the venom they’ve been hiding in their fangs with “RcR;” a brilliant mind-meld of modern psychedelia and almost gothic undertones in the reverb-heavy vocals that fades exquisitely into the cryptic swoon of “Halloween Sex.”

When asked to describe the album, the band provided a quote from writer and mythologist Joseph Campbell that inspired the title: "Out of the confines of all local histories and landscapes… Some notion of the whole profoundly conceived." I’ll be honest and say initially I had no idea what that meant about the record. But in the context of “indie blah blah” and the abstract title of the EP, some light is (maybe) shed. The Landmarks wholeheartedly embrace the notion of giving themselves no limits. If there’s not a genre they fit in, they’ll carve a space out for themselves. The five songs on this EP sprint by fast, jump between different musical realms, and yet there’s some “notion of the whole” at play as each song builds off the last. It’s a forward thinking approach that the band is hoping to turn from myth to reality. Based off these recordings, it seems that they’re well on their way.

Stream the EP in full below.

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