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Lapland — Lapland (2013)

Lapland — Lapland (March 10, 2014)

USA Flag                   Lapland — Lapland
   Mellow folk-pop meets lush ambient arrangements on Lapland’s debut.
   Knock-out songs, somewhere between Fleetwood Mac and Burt Bacharach.
   Lapland showing off a woozy vision of the world.
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Album release: March 10, 2014
Record Label: Hundred Pocket Records/The Lights Label
Duration:     36:03
01 Unwise     3:54 
02 Overboard     4:30 
03 Aeroplane     4:15 
04 Drink Me Dry     3:17 
05 Memory     4:32 
06 Where Did It Go?     3:57 
07 Fountains     2:19 
08 Metal Lungs     3:07 
09 Soldier     4:10 
10 Lalala     2:05
Key Tracks: “Unwise”, “Overboard”, “Where Did It Go”
±   Bill Campbell  Drums
±   Peter Larson  Photography
±   Robin MacMillan  Drums, Engineer
±   Josh Mease  Arranger, Bass, Composer, Drums, Engineer, Guitar, Keyboards, Producer, Vocals
±   Pete Rende  Engineer, Mixing
±   TW Walsh  Mastering
±   Lauren Webster  Cover Design
±   Brian Wolfe  Drums
Review by Marcy Donelson; Score: ****
±   Brooklyn-based one-man-band Josh Mease follows his proficient 2009 release, Wilderness, with a new name and a fortified sound. Wilderness is already a clinic on melody, harmony, and lush ’60s-infused indie pop. With the self-titled debut of moniker Lapland, Mease evolves his sound into something more consistent and recognizable woven from ethereal keyboard lines, strummed rhythm guitar, and clouds of echoing vocal harmonies. Though these elements made appearances on the previous album, here they pervade and unify it. In the context of his songs, the sound has a timeless quality; Lapland is a place where the Beatles, the Beach Boys, ’70s singer/songwriters, ’80s new wave, and ’90s ambient pop all mingle and pepper his reverb-heavy, ultimately fresh-sounding version of dream pop. The markedly chill tone of the album doesn’t get sleepy, either, because he never abandons melody, harmony, and form. Lyrically, the record’s hazy atmosphere and mélange of musical decades are reflected almost thematically with songs about the transient nature of memory, time, and people (“Though we can never change the past/We can be sure our memories won’t last”). “Where Did It Go?” is an elegant piece on loss via undependable relationships reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac’s “Gypsy,” itself about loss and memory. There are some surprises on the album: “Fountains,” an instrumental waltz, and “Aeroplane,” a synthesized ’50s prom ballad a la the Platters. These songs still blend with the rest of the record because of the shared — distinctive — palette of timbres and effects. With Lapland, Mease commits to a soundscape that’s analogous to Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound. However, the crux of the album is, as in his prior work, a framework of engaging and well-crafted pop songs.   © ≈•≈ 'All compositions have an architectural element to them — the shapes of the melodies, chords, rhythms, words, sounds, and the space therein' ... or whatever. Photograph: Peter Larson
Max Cussons; Score: 3.5/5
±   Lapland is the new moniker of Brooklyn multi-instrumentalist Josh Mease, who previously released music under his own name, namely 2009's 'Wilderness' album. According to Lapland's website, Mease chose to adopt this moniker for his new music because he felt that the songs on this album connected with the worldly landscapes in a photobook he'd seen called 'Lappland Wanderland'. This is easy to see as 'Lapland' has plenty of songs filled with beauty, just like wonderful sights of nature.
±   'Unwise' is a strong album opener with bubbling electronic beeps that are playful and uplifting. Some gentle rhythmic guitar accompanies it turning it into a truly beautiful song and Mease's dreamy shoegaze vocals are fitting to the instrumentation. ±   Next is 'Overboard', which is less electronic and has more of a serious folk vibe. In contrast to the previous song it shows Lapland has two different sides; maybe even more alter-egos. We have to listen on to find out, and when the third song 'Aeroplane'  follows, it does appear that Mease is a man of many different sounds. This song brings the album into a 60s soul vibe, with light keys and backing vocals gently repeating the sound 'ooo ooo'. 'Drink Me Dry' continues in the 60s groove, reminiscent of acts such as The Beach Boys and Buddy Holly. 'Memory' is more psychedelic, but the slow swaying into an abyss kind of psychedelic, not the bright and uplifting psychedelic. Once again, the wide range of sounds and emotions on display here is really impressive. On many of the songs, the electronics take a back seat, as opposed to  being at the forefront like they were on 'Unwise', but they resurface again on 'Where Did It Go?' which boosts the song's dreaminess.
±   This is a very good album, but it's not perfect. There are just a few weak tracks to be heard. 'Fountains' is an instrumental which serves well as an album interlude but is quite poor as a standalone song that just lazily moves notes back and forth. Same with 'LaLaLa'. Again it seems like greatness is trying to be achieved here through minimal instrumentation, but failing with 'la la la' just being sang over and over again on top of lifeless guitar strumming. You feel like it's a wasted song that could be improved by simply having some actual lyrics in it.
±   Overall this is a great album. Lapland wears his 60s pop and psychedelic influences on his sleeve but in no way does the album sound like a throwback. This is thanks to the subtle use of electronics that occasionally stand out prominently, namely on 'Unwise' and 'Where Did It Go?'. There are just a few songs, though, that could've had more effort put into them, and which hold the album back from being consistently amazing. Fortaken: http://www.contactmusic.com/
BY Simon Workman, FIRE NOTE STAFF, APRIL 11, 2013, Score: 4/5
:: http://thefirenote.com/2013/04/11/lapland-lapland-album-review/
BY JOHN DANIEL BULL, 06 MARCH 2014, 15:30 GMT, Score: 8/10
:: http://www.thelineofbestfit.com/reviews/albums/lapland-lapland-810-147394
By Thomas H Green, Monday, 10 March 2014, Rating: *****
:: http://www.theartsdesk.com/new-music/cd-lapland-lapland
Paul Lester
theguardian.com, Wednesday 15 January 2014 07.00 GMT
Texan boy with the melodic gifts of the greats and the studio nous of a wunderkind.
:: http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/jan/15/lapland
Website: http://listentolapland.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/listentolapland
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/listentolapland
General Inquiries:
US Booking:
Windish Agency — John Bongiorno
Contact: john@windishagency.com
Good Cop Public Relations
Contact: maggie@goodcoppr.com
UK / EU Label:
The Lights Label (EMI)
Contact: jonathan@northernlightsmgt.co.uk
EU Booking:
Free Trade Agency — Paul Boswell
Contact: PaulB@freetradeagency.co.uk
UK / EU Online PR:
Top Button Digital
Contact: ollie@topbuttondigital.com
UK/EU Press
Mercenary PR
Contact: kas@mercenarypublicity.com
UK/EU Radio
Viaduct Promotions
Contact: russell@viaductpromotions.co.uk
±   "Lapland, like so many of the best acts these days, is the cause célèbre, the raison d'être, of a boy with a dream, a male solo artist with a singular vision and the musical ambition — and talent — to realise it....What can we say? Album of the year, so far."  —  The Guardian (UK)
±   "With those relaxed vocals carrying the theme and an intricate knack for carving a song from whatever materials he has allowed himself, it’s an album that stands apart from those obvious similar acts, but one which those who favour their rock soft and their folk with a pinch of pop will want in their collection." (8 out of 10) —  The Line of Best Fit (UK)
±   "Knock-out songs, somewhere between Fleetwood Mac and Burt Bacharach" (5 out of 5) —  The Arts Desk (UK)
±   "A collection of gentle,dream-like songs, all written and played by Lapland mainman Josh Mease, which gradually ease their way under the skin." (4 Stars) —  The Sunday Express (UK)
±   "His multi-faceted approach to production gives him the leeway to combine seemingly incongruous sounds into something that not only fits together perfectly but feels emotionally resonant and inclusive toward the listener. Drawing on artists like The Beach Boys and Fleetwood Mac, as well as classical composers like Debussy and Ravel, Mease never allows his focus to stagnate and maintains an acute eye toward composition even when treading across multiple genres — many times within the same song."  —  Beats Per Minute
±   "Josh Mease’s smooth voice fills out his mixes with dense background vocals, and there is a certain timelessness to the shape of his melodies. The full and dreamy production transports the listener to a space and time far from the chaos of the city, notwithstanding the unusual electronic effects. Think Grizzly Bear with some Boards of Canada mixed in." —  The Deli Magazine
±   "Lyrics cast afloat upon billowing seas of dreamy textures, it seems hard to believe that everything you're hearing is almost solely the work of Mease and yet with the exception of the drums that's exactly what's happening....But the more impressive feat is how all of Mease's various loves and influences are alchemized in not only an intriguing personal style but also one that manages to be remarkably understated." —  All Around Sound
±   "It is, if anything, an even stronger and stranger record than Wilderness, full of burbling electronic textures, prettily strummed guitars, eerie harmonies, and bleak lyrics about failed romance. It’s a woozily atmospheric record, but one grounded in the sort of musical foundation that any pop fan or jazz musician would recognize." —  Texas Monthly
±   The beginning of Lapland started before it even had a name. It was born in a tiny half-bedroom in Brooklyn, where songwriter Josh Mease began recording a new batch of songs in early 2011. Mease has always found comfort in the solitude of his own thoughts, often preferring the landscapes within his mind’s eye over the bustle of the city that surrounds him. So it seems fitting that in making Lapland’s self-titled debut, he worked alone using whatever was within reach — only rarely using other musicians.
±   Perhaps this self-imposed isolation is why Lapland has such an introspective tone. Themes of separation and loss are woven throughout the album, as Lapland moves fluently through different styles and genres while maintaining a uniquely personal sound.  From the percolating electronic gallop of the opening track, “Unwise”, to the blue-eyed soul of “Aeroplane”, to the acoustic haze and layered harmonies of “Overboard”, Mease always keeps things interesting.  One can hear the effect of the myriad of music styles and genres that informedLapland — Early synth pioneers of the 60′s and 70′s, French Impressionists like Ravel and Debussy, and 1970′s staples like Fleetwood Mac.
±   Mixing styles is not new for Mease. He grew up in Texas where his childhood love of rock and country evolved into studying jazz guitar. After moving to New York, he eventually shifted his focus from playing jazz to singing and writing songs. This transformation gives Mease a unique approach to songwriting, and his work has earned him fans not only in indie circles but also in jazz, R&B, and classical music as well.
±   The name Lapland only presented itself after the album was completed, when Mease picked up a book from the $2 stacks at a used bookstore called “Lappland Wanderland.” The book contained photos of other-worldly landscapes and vast open spaces which seemed to connect with Mease’s new recording. It was not a difficult decision to adopt the name Lapland for this new phase of Mease’s career. The scope of his work deserves a moniker of symbolic significance. And so, Lapland began.

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