LandSpeedRecord! – Road to Flight

Road to Flight

First off, let me say that this disc sounded nothing like I expected it to, seeing as the instantaneous reaction to this disc was, “Land Speed Record – wasn’t that a Husker Du album?” Into the CD player the disc went, and after about four songs went by, I finally stopped and said, “Hey – this doesn’t sound like Husker Du.” Fortunately for me (and for the band, as far as this review goes), I was smiling when I said it.
A preacher’s voice opens the album, leading into “Mission of God,” which boldly proclaims, “I am on a Mission from God to blow you away with the song I came up with.” Moxie – gotta love it. The music is really upbeat, with a guitar line that sounds like something from an old Jon Spencer Blues Explosion disc. “Let the Exorcism Begin” really sounds like Skeleton Key, with music that builds to a cool ‘freak out’ ending and vocals that add to the urgent, ‘freaky’ nature of the lyrical content. “Turing Test” starts off sounding like a deranged surf-guitar instrumental before heading off into a really fun number.
The more morose side of LandSpeedRecord! finally shows through on “Internet Killer,” a mostly instrumental piece built around very driving, yet understated guitar work. When the vocals do finally kick in at the end of the track, the ‘freaky’ tone is used here again for a really dark sound. “The Best Revenge” melds acoustic guitars, intense (but subdued) vocals and synth-beats to good effect for verses before kicking into a chorus fit for any ska song – a cool listen, and probably the standout track on the album. “Emo Takes Last Place” is an infectious rocker that sounds like old Carnival Art, while “The Origins of the Fourth World War” is a quick, quirky bass driven track with cool stop-beat action in the chorus.
“Fema” is a militaristic tune concerned with a ‘cleansing’ of the world’s populace. Disturbing is really the only word that comes to mind for that one. “The Bleeding Heart of Cement” evokes more memories of Carnival Art, as a laid-back guitar line gives in to an abrasive chorus. The coolest lyric off the disc comes courtesy of this song (“I had this horrible vision that everything would wind up OK/OK’s for assholes and losers – I’d rather burn out than rot out that way”). “The Last Parade” bops along the same lines as “Turing Test/Emo Takes Last Place,” and “Kung Pao” is an instrumental piece worthy of any NoMeansNo CD. “How I Ruined My Life With an Overactive Imagination” is a catchy, synthesizer-drenched pop tune with relationship-oriented lyrics. “Why Famous People Shouldn’t Breed,” along with the previous song, shows that LandSpeedRecord! have great taste in song titles. The music itself is pretty standard to the release thus far, though the lyrics paint a fairly absurd and disturbing picture.
“Neil Armstrong” has a very quiet and somber tone, with eerie synth effect dropped in from time to time to create a generally uneasy feeling. The uncomfortable vibe continues into the disc’s title track, “Road to Flight.” While not the disc’s best track, this is definitely the CD’s masterpiece. The song begins with the sound of a record crackling, leading into an acoustic head-trip from someone obsessed with suicide through hanging. The vocals are frail and emotional, and the guitars are delicate, creating a very haunting experience that ends right back where it began – with the crackling sound of a record player. There are a few other tracks to speak of on the disc as well – “Morgantown” and the untitled track 19, which are sadly misguided attempts at screwing around with the synthesizers, while “Cameron Diazapam” is a hilarious venture into dance music, with a really cool synth-bass line and nonsense lyrics that talk of men in monkey suits doing bizarre monkey dances underneath a cardboard cutout of Cal Ripken with the eyes and mouth burned out. Simply put – it rules.
Road to Flight is an excellent listen fueled by creativity and strong musicianship. What does make me sad, however, is that LandSpeedRecord! hails from the same town as Third Harmonic Distortion. Damn, I want to move to Baltimore.