Lampland is the recording project of New York-based songwriter Tommy Bazarian. An obsession with dramatic, country-tinged songwriting and ‘90s aesthetics come together on ‘Dry Heat,’ his debut for Park The Van Records.
“I was searching for this heartbreaking, ‘70s feeling,” Bazarian says of the album’s origins. To find it, he immersed himself in Stevie Nicks, Dolly Parton, and Dusty Springfield hits. He would listen to “Jolene” and “Dreams” over and over, just trying to grasp the feeling of the way the chorus was sung—the pleasure and heartbreak that mix in the melody and vocal delivery.
But in the spirit of innovators like Mount Eerie / The Microphones and Jonathan Richman, the songs on Dry Heat warp their rootsy influences as much as they honor them. The production is often slanted and fuzzed-out, full of blitzed guitars, midnight synths, and basement pianos. Bazarian’s voice is captivating, owing more to Elliott Smith than his ‘70s loves. His delivery flips between reverence and mischievousness, indulging in that Dolly Parton emotion, surrendering to it, and playing with it in equal measure. The albumwas brought to life by engineers Nate Mendelsohn (Frankie Cosmos, Katie Von Schleicher) and Philip Weinrobe (Adrianne Lenker, Deerhoof).
Lampland’s latest single “Flowers In The Rain” is one of the more ambitious songs on the album. “This is one of my favorite songs off of the new record, and it was hands down the hardest to make,” Bazarian explains. “I wrote this chorus in the summer of 2019, and loved it right away, and it was one of those things where you like the chorus too much and can’t find a verse that matches it. I finally got the verse after like three months and 80 attempts. I think I was aiming for one of those big dramatic Elliott Smith songs on XO, like ‘Sweet Adeline’ or ‘Waltz #2.'”
“The lyrics became this hazy story centered around a few images. I was picturing two teenagers staying in a rental house near the Great Lakes, with stained walls and cheap vinyl floors, finally alone in the house after their families had left. I think something unsettling happens. Or one of them makes a bad decision.”
Photo Courtesy: Madeline Ludwig-Leone