The Brooklyn-based band's frontman Adam Schatz is an unpredictable songwriter, firmly rooted in the here and now.
Adam Schatz is not the kind of man for whom life is ever boring. The frontman and principal songwriter of Brooklyn-based art rock band Landlady, Schatz is also a touring member of Man Man, guest musician for Vampire Weekend, founder of acclaimed jazz curatorial site Search and Restore, and a music promoter.
"I love to understand the balance between the very very very big and very very very very small, and [Landlady is] always operating with contrasts between the two," Schatz said. The band will play the Hi-Ho Lounge Friday night, featuring compositions that teeter on the sonic line between chaos and the concrete, between anxiety and bliss. When Schatz throws two disparate ideas against one another and creates a playground, wholly intact, his strongest songwriting appears.
Lead single "Dying Day," for example, wryly proclaims, "I think I'm getting better every day / I think I'm getting closer to my dying day." Improvised piano lines run optimistically against the promise of mortality, admitting to a slight hesitation when the chorus arrives, only to pick up again. Death doesn't seem to be too much of a direct concern: What's the point in worrying about it when there's musical ramblings to be pursued? A rhythmic second line to be marched in?
That is, until the next track "Girl" begins in a state of panic. The question of mortality coalesces into reality: "What's the matter with my girl / she's not breathing in" Schatz moans, abruptly thrusting listeners out of their comfort zone with an insistent keyboard that prepares for the worst before somewhere finding triumph. It's one thing to worry about death - it's another thing to be directly confronted with it. His lyrics seem to be going through an existential crisis, but he's sonically optimistic. The balance is welcome: whenever it seems that he's about to drown in his own worries, a playful phrase reminds listeners that it's all in good fun.
"You want to enjoy things as much as you can but still want to be aware that reality is against," Schatz said. "It's some heavy shit that you have to be aware of forever, until it happens to you… You can choose to pay attention to it or choose not to."
The frenetic movement between abstraction and reality, the push forward and the skittering details, make Landlady's music a constant surprise. It's difficult to predict where a song will lead, or when the tempo or time signature will abruptly, delightfully change. It's not that Schatz is easily distracted. Rather, it seems that he isn't satisfied with stagnation - in the music industry as a whole or in himself. As much as Landlady's music worries about death, life's purpose, and relationships, there is an underlying obsession with the present tense. The way the rhythm develops on "Under the Yard" or sways through "Fine" seems spontaneous, mostly because Schatz seems to be thoroughly enjoying himself. Even in his most serious moments, he's not taking things too seriously. When it comes to his music, Schatz has more pragmatic matters on his mind.
"[I'm inspired by] planet Earth and breathing air. It comes down to that, and just trying to be aware."