LANY is a deceptive name for a band formed in Nashville, Tennessee.
Pronounced lay-nee, an acronym for "Los Angeles New York," the group at first glance looks and sounds like the ultra-urban minimalist Instagram fodder touted by one-word bands these days. But its relatable, warm sound also offers comfort, like a friendly waitress in West Virginia. This polarity is what makes LANY so frustrating and so fascinating at the same time.
Paul Klein, a Tulsa, Oklahoma native and the band’s frontman and lyricist, mines the idea of place as well as its physicality on LANY's self-titled debut from June. “As a songwriter, I find it really interesting if I can remember the setting of where I was when I was feeling certain things,” he explains. “Even like, what was the lighting like? What did the room smell like? What was the mood? Was there anything on the wall?”
Klein and his bandmates, Jake Goss of Arkansas and Les Priest of Missouri, met in Nashville after crossing paths with Klein’s intermittent stints at Belmont University and formed LANY in 2014. “We had four days together and recorded two songs,” he says, one of which, “Walk Away,” instantly went viral on SoundCloud. “Within a week, we were getting a bunch of messages from record labels, and it was a total shock,” he shares. “We really haven’t stopped since then.”
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It is odd that a trio of thoroughly greater-Midwestern guys who met in the South would create music you’d hear at Forever 21. The album is shiny and produced much in the same vein of those by the band the 1975, and its lyrics are as delightfully millennial and straightforward. But talking to Klein, one can’t help but notice the undeniable heart and dedication that go into music so unfussy about itself.
First off, the band, now based in L.A., tours like freaking Hendrix, having completed 117 shows last year and embarking on a 135-show tour this year. It’s no secret that musicians nowadays make far more money on live shows than album sales — as Taylor Swift’s dubious marketing tactics make sure to remind us — but LANY's drive stems from work ethic (if also survival) in the old-school tradition.
The band's beat-driven synth and fun California-centric melodies can easily be classified as indie pop. Though LANY certainly sounds like pop, its creative process comes entirely from its three members with no professional producers, which is why Klein takes little issue settling on the noncommittal “indie” descriptor. The album credits each member with multiple voice, instrument, and production contributions.
“It’s pretty independent from working with anybody else,” he explains.
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First, Goss and Priest come up with a beat or guiding sound. Next, Klein writes the lyrics and melody. Last, they “fill in the spaces” with instrumentation. “We write everything, we play everything, we record everything, we mix everything... so in that sense, it’s pretty independent of outside influence.”
The Californication of it all slips away on tracks such as “Hericane,” “Purple Teeth,” and “Tampa,” whose stories take place in Oklahoma, Texas, and Florida, respectively. These tracks are each decisively more anxious about their subject and setting — a mother without a father in Tulsa, sitting on a porch in Dallas with a new lover, or waiting for a 5 a.m. flight out of Tampa — than the easygoing California or New York songs.
Millennials might find it easy to forgive LANY for its self-conscious branding, grateful to see the band in Fort Lauderdale instead of the big city. Behind LANY's shiny urban packaging are simple words and tunes trying to give a shape to the borderless heartland of self-doubt. Might as well dance all over it.
LANY. With Dagny. 7 p.m. Tuesday, October 3, at Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-449-1025; jointherevolution.net. Tickets cost $20 in advance via ticketmaster.com or $23 at the door.