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Blue Moose will welcome shoegaze band Landmarks

BY ISAAC HAMLET | NOVEMBER 20, 2014 5:00 AM

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For a band, the cultivation of sound equates to the shaping of identity. Landmarks has worked for more than two years selecting the members’ defining features: a neat tempo driven by fluid notes with vocals that bleed into and vitalize the instrumentals.

The Chicago-based indie band will play the Blue Moose Tap House, 211 Iowa Ave., at 9 p.m. Saturday.

The band began in 2012 when Matt Thomas and Andrew Manktelow — the keyboard and bass players who had played in a dissolved band — came across Stephen Sinko on Craig’s List. Contact was established, collaboration commenced, and Landmarks began taking shape.

“[Our sound] started out as more surf-y, and we’ve moved into more of a shoe-gaze direction as we wrote more stuff and members changed,” said Andrew McBride, one of the guitar players for the group. “Everyone’s individual strengths lent themselves to shoe-gaze more than our previous surfier stuff.”

Shoe-gaze is a subgenre of alternative rock, pioneering by ’80s British bands such as My Bloody Valentine and Lush.

Sinko, who plays both guitar and keys, attributes the band’s current form to “a little bit of luck and a little bit of timing.”

“When I met Matt and Andrew, they were kind of together playing music,” Sinko said. “It wasn’t that the band needed an extra keyboard player — I was already playing keys — but with Matt, we get a much bigger more atmospheric sound than what we had. We’d always liked [shoe-gaze-type] bands; it was always the plan from the start to pick up music more in that vein.”

From there, Landmarks began using sound effects in its music. The members took advantage of distortion and layering, giving the band a much fuller sound.

“A lot of bands make noise and use a lot of effects, but I hope we can do two things to stand out,” Sinko said. “One, we’re making songs that are decent. You can be as good as you want with your effects, but if the songs aren’t good at the end of the day, no one’s going to notice. Two, we want to push towards using sounds that you’re not going to hear when you see a normal indie rock band.”

Though the band members are more limited in the effects they can use while playing live, they remain confident in their ability to deliver substance to audiences.

“I think [over the years], we’ve refined out style,” Manktelow said. “The songs we started with at the beginning were a lot more varied, and now, I think we have a focus that we didn’t have before.”

The band members hope to push that focus. They plan to spend a good portion of the coming year writing and recording new songs, going beyond what they’ve done.

“We’re having a lot of fun,” Sinko said. “If you’re a serious musician, nothing’s more gratifying than getting opportunities to play with bands that you really like and exposing people to music that they might not usually listen to.”


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