COREY LANDIS fittingly shares a birthday with Charles Bukowski and a deathday with Elvis Presley.
Whether or not he chooses to admit it, Landis typifies the recent resurgence of gifted twenty-somethings that evoke the "golden" singer-songwriter age of the 70s. The ubiquitous melodies of Elton, Joel, Springsteen, Cohen, Waits, Zevon and Newman hover over Landis' shoulder like older siblings--most tellingly in the dystopian relationship odes of the last three Angelenos.
Destined to relocate to Los Angeles (from Ohio) in 2000, Landis began appearing around LA as a solo performer, accompanying himself on piano at venues such as The Derby, and The Mint, and as the opening act for the comedy troupe Piece of Meat Theater. Landis was soon asked to contribute six original songs to the soundtrack for the indie film "Unreel: A True Hollywood Story" and also supplied the closing track for "Peace", a short film starring "That '70s Show"'s Kurtwood Smith. (Rocksnob warning: Like everyone else in LA, Corey Landis is a card-carrying actor, including a recurring role on the FOX sitcom "That 70s Show" as, coincidentally, the young Red Forman.)
His first release, "Feast of Scraps", a singular paean to the emotional mean streets of El Lay, sought to blow some dust and smoke in the right places, in the right amount. Landis' singular mix of melodramatic melodies, razorblade-gargling singing and homemade wall-of-Spector sounded to some "like the fictional soundtrack to a fictional paring of Stanley Kubrick and Sergio Leone... a spaghetti-O western." (Nimbus)
Critical consensus was that Landis was a songwriting force to be reckoned with:
"Great songwriters are few and far between; like troubadours of old, his dark, ironic lyrics work best against a minimal background of the lone piano or a single acoustic guitar. This is an artist who can dominate any small venue and who should be recording gems like this in a much better studio than his living room." (Skratch)
"**** 1/2 (out of five stars) Very real, somber, and humbling. If Bukowski could sing, he'd sound like this. A poet blessed with musical talent. The music is great. He sounds great. I'm afraid of him." (South of Mainstream)
"Darkly moody songs in a drunken manner. Excellent lyrics, interesting musicality, depth and soul... gritty and real. Great lyrics. I will buy him a drink." (Hybrid Magazine)
"14 old messages"--Landis' second release on Urban Myth Recordings--was released in September of 2005. On Landis' ambitious second platter, he sings his black heart out over all sorts of memories, both real and imagined, in musical settings both familiar and disorienting. Landis' self-mocking, mock-solipsistic lyrics and nostalgia-tinged new melodist pop evokes both the alleged golden age of singer-songwriter pathos AND sad-sack contemporaries Oberst, Barzelay, Apple, and Wainwright.
Like "Feast of Scraps", "14 Old Messages" was obsessively overdubbed by Landis in his home studio, with Landis singing and playing each and every note (including trumpet, guitar, and piano). "14 Old Messages" will hold your hair back as you vomit, commiserate as you cry, and laugh at you behind your back. While Corey Landis admittedly doesn't rewrite any rule books of pop songwriting, he clearly loves scribbling in the margins. And as "14 Old Messages"' very first review concurs:
"This kid could become the next great singer/songwriter of our generation." (Smother)
Recently, "New Year" from "Feast of Scraps" was voted a finalist in the 2005 International Songwriting Competition, making it in the top .5% of around 15,000 entrties.
Landis recently completed and released a self-titled record--a tribute, of sorts, to the '70s records of David Forman, Randy Newman, David Ackles, Biff Rose, and the like--which features string arrangements by Joey Newman. Smother.net says: "Supporting deep lyrical content and twisted chords, Landis manages to prove that heís a worthy songwriter thatís worth more than just a casual listen and cast-off."