January 19, 2016
New Charlotte band, full of not-so-new musicians, Landless released their debut EP Yeah Sun on January 22. Recorded in Bryan Olson’s cozy home studio in Commonwealth Park, the inclinations that led to recording Nicholas Holman’s latest batch of simply sincere, familiarly warm tunes are appropriately indicative of the songs themselves.
Since moving to Charlotte in 2011, Landless’ lead singer Holman has quietly put out a couple of ambient albums and late night Soundclouds online, had random solo gigs at vegan restaurants, played in other local bands, and has attempted to assemble a band that effectively conveys his personal perspective. In early spring of 2015, Holman enlisted Phil Pucci (Serfs/Melt) on guitar, Bo White (Patois Counselors) on bass, and Josh Faggart (Miami Dice) on drums to aid in the realization of his most recent songs. All players readily agreed despite being involved in other projects, continuing the Charlotte music community’s labyrinth of collaborative expression. When first pitching the idea to the musicians, Holman told them he wanted to focus more on the recording of the music. This meant recording more often and possibly playing around with new instruments, vocal arrangements, etc. He wants this band to be more collaborative with the songwriting and to “not be afraid to not be a heavy band.”
Charlotte has “kind of always been into metal or heavier rock and punk-influenced things… What people go to see and take more seriously,” Holman says. “I’m in rock ’n’ roll bands, but I’m not built for rock ’n’ roll bands.” Lyrics are very important to this continually evolving musician.
After beginning college about ten years ago, Holman began to choose music for himself instead of latching onto what others had showed him, mainly metal. He became attached to like Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell–people known as lyricists, claiming that his music is coming from that perspective through the lens of a rock’n’roll band with some pop influence. “There’s an emasculating effect to playing softer music, or music where the point of it is for the lyrics to come from someone’s mouth directly into someone else’s ear”. Holman muses about the present and future of Charlotte’s local music culture stating, “The people playing and the people listening have diversified in a way that makes it easier to be more open and direct with song writing. Maybe it was because I was the new guy before, but I feel like people can do whatever they want now because it will find a receptive audience.”
Nick spent 2014 traveling abroad. Upon returning to the States and experiencing some reverse culture shock he admitted, “the lyrics are conversations I had with myself late at night over a few months. I needed to write them to get through some alienation I was feeling, and gain enough confidence to go out into town and be apart of things again.” Some of the lyrics are more direct and some make little sense, but to him, “felt like the right words to say.”
The use of repetition in the simple melodies and driving chord progressions in the high soaring guitars, paired with a skilled bassist and a steady kit beat compile a dynamite set of layers. Some of the songs are simple walking songs with a singular emotion. Other songs feel like sauntering down the sidewalk stoned, completely inside your own head. Holman’s use of simple language and aligning the mundane with the questions we have all asked ourselves late at night gives the material a relatable and self-reflective quality to the right listener. A couple of tracks have more complex play between the bass and high-end riffs, telegraphed guitar build-ups with sharp clean exits and reentries, more vocal syncopation, and overall dynamics, like the song “Banepa Stay” provided below.
Nicholas Holman and Landless seem optimistic about the future prospects of the group performing live as well as recording a full-length album later on. It’s worth it to go to the release show and keep an eye on Landless. They’re going to change the assumption of what Charlotte’s indie rock could sound like.
Listen to the EP Yeah Sun by Landless