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Lost voice of indie rock

There are plenty of terrible things that can happen to a band on theroad, but almost nothing can derail an up-and-coming act like a singerbusting her vocal chords.

There are plenty of terrible things that can happen to a band on the road, but almost nothing can derail an up-and-coming act like a singer busting her vocal chords. That’s what happened to Land of Talk, an infectious rock trio that could soon oust Arcade Fire as the most-talked-about Montreal band.

During the band’s September tour, lead singer Elizabeth Powell lost her voice for 15 days. A stint as the female lead in Broken Social Scene through the fall — she officially joined the group last week — and a pre-existing problem with her pipes means the eclectic frontwoman is headed for surgery and will likely be out of commission until at least April.

It’s bad news for an act that international audiences are just becoming familiar with. “This is so classic,” she says, her voice a little raspy, over the phone from Montreal. “Right when you have momentum something drastic happens. Every time things start going well for us a band member quits or a family member gets sick.”

While this setback is serious — Powell’s had to opt out of touring with BSS indefinitely — it’s not going to stop Land of Talk from all their commitments. The vigorous Metric-meets-Sonic Youth three-piece are making up three Ontario dates this month, in support of their debut Some Are Lakes, and they plan to write and record during their hiatus.

“This is probably the best thing for me and the band in a way,” says Powell. “We put out an album in the fall and it was great, but we have a lot of things to work out still.”

The distance from their fans might also make the band more in demand when they return to the road. Up until now they’ve received rave reviews from the likes of Spin Magazine and Rolling Stone, they’ve toured Europe and North America and they call Saddle Creek, Bright Eyes’ label, home.

“A lot of people have been saying nice things about the record, but unless you’re out there you don’t feel it,” she explains. “We stopped touring a few weeks ago and already I feel very detached.”

As for the surgery, Powell’s pretty confident that everything will be fine, but there is a nagging feeling in the back of her mind that something could go wrong.

“The only thing that worries me is Julie Andrews, who had vocal surgery a few years ago,” she says. “She did some holiday announcement and her voice sounded a bit shoddy. I saw this on TV and started freaking out. What if it goes away and I screw it up again? But it’s either surgery or taking two years off.”

 
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