There’s such a thing as safe music. It colors inside the lines and looks both ways before crossing. Sometimes, playing it safe can be smart, but it’s never, ever going to draw a hallelujah reaction. For those bands that plunge across the lines, letting the music take the reigns and their imaginations run uninhibited, I salute you. We all do — because it’s risky. Allowing for experimentation can literally make or break a band, usually producing both the best and the worst sounds.
Adam Schatz’s Brooklyn-based, experimental pop project, Landlady, is producing music that’s unafraid to defy genres, and the result is very eccentric and very engaging. Listening to “Above My Ground” first sparked images of TV on the Radio, who I love dearly. The pop vibes lend themselves to repeated listens, and the experimentation makes it interesting — there’s simply a satisfying balance to the song. Instruments upon instruments upon noise bedded on a simple melody are eventually joined by ghostly backup choirs building into a frenetic, mountainous, non-uniform structure. The jagged edges both push and pull the ears throughout the experience. “Above My Ground” is that piece of art where you have no clue what you’re looking at, but, geez, you love it and are drawn to it for reasons you don’t understand.
Schatz’s name is synonymous with the underground jazz scene in NYC (he founded Search and Restore), and understanding this love for such a soulful, improvisational genre sheds light on Landlady’s quirky, cool erraticism. The six to eleven member band released a full length in 2011 called Keeping To Yourself, then released a two-song EP last December, which includes the aforementioned “Above My Ground” and also a cover of the Pixies’ “Oh My Golly” (the Pixies thing also really makes sense in this context). I’d like to nudge you in the direction of both releases, but listen to “Above My Ground” a couple of times before moving on to their other material. I think you’ll find the sound, for some reason, will draw you in, too.