Hippo Campus 'Landmark' (Album Review)
Landmark marks the debut album of Hippo Campus, a band made up of Jake Luppen (vocals/guitar), Nathan Stocker (guitar/vocals), Zach Sutton (bass) and Whistler Allen (drums/vocals). The band has been releasing EP's creating music and perfecting their sound and live performance. Hippo Campus has garnered a great underground following since their first EP Bashful Creatures was released and releasing others like South. After a year since it's release we take a look back and listen to the sounds of Hippo Campus' first full-length album.
Starting it off is "Sun Veins" which is a very cool and trippy distorted sound, voices singing in the background. The song doesn't last though as is it quickly transitions to "Way It Goes". Immediately you begin to sense a flow of the songs and placement in the album as a whole. "Way It Goes" has a laid back guitar rhythm, the perfect chords compliment Jake Luppen's voice who doesn't have to try too hard to switch the levels in his voice. The instrumental bridge is fun and loose, and takes me back to a sunny day in the shade under a tree. "Vines" is a slower song, the strings in the song are underplayed and the majority of the song is heavily played by the beat of the drums and subtle synths. Jake's falsetto is embraced with the groove of the song. Allen on drums truly carries the weight of the song. "Epitaph" really slows it down in the intro, with low keys playing behind Luppen's voice. The guitar rhythm is something Hippo Campus have mastered which only enhances the song in between all the other instruments played. "Simple Season" becomes the first song with faster playing and a more modern rock feel. As always Luppen manages to do so much while doing very little with his voice. The song structure of "Simple Season" is a nice layered track that pulls you in at first listen. Lyrically the song is simple which isn't always bad. In this case it's not, it's not trying to be something it's not and it's elegantly put as the top layer to the track. "Tuesday" flows well after "Simple Season", it also falls in the category of simple songwriting. The song does feel like a mid way point to the album and coincidently it's number 6 in the track listing. "Western Kids" really picks up the sound for the second half of the album. More vibrant chords are played from guitar, drums are just as much enhanced as well. Luppen's voice takes a different tone, his voice goes a little more deeper or lower in register. "Poems" is very much a slow and sway song. I couldn't help but sway back and forth, feeling looser and free to move. "Monsoon" has a good piano/keys intro, the song sounds different from the others. The sound feels more personal, you can hear it in Luppen's voice. I can picture the crowd pulling out their lighters for this song. The guitar in this song almost feels therapeutic. "Vacation" is another song drastically different, if you listen closer the lyrics give it away. The song feels like a memory being described to us, and one thing we like about the writing of this song is the vividness of the lyrics. "Boyish" brings back the fun and fast paced feel, the guitar rhythm is faster and Luppen's voice sounds louder, a great rock song accompanied by great horns that add that special touch that make you want to leave your feet and dance. "Interlude" is a the sound off that we are getting closer to the end, the instrumentation feels like the end of a series or even the end of an SNL episode with all the brass instruments being smoothly integrated. "Buttercup" is the last song on the album, every note played sounds with purpose and and slowly the song fades ending the record.