Posts Tagged ‘great lakes’

Great Lakes at Raised by Gyspies

As someone who listens to a lot of music, I can tell you that sometimes music should be simple.   It should be all that appears on the surface.   Now, many times that might seem like something you don’t want to hear in music and I agree, for the most part it is not.   Case in point, prior to writing this review I was eating cereal for lunch and listening to a digital album that reminds me far too much of The Church (only with some really bad qualities added in as well) to take it seriously and so we just kind of have to move on from there.

Great Lakes has three main influences that I can hear and in some weird way they all seem to be connected and not just because I listen to them.    One of perhaps the strongest influences I can pull out is the sound of Murder by Death except MBD can tend to be a bit dark and Great Lakes don’t seem to share that same darkness but just a similar musical style with brooding guitars and strings.

At the same time I hear something else on the side of folk and I can’t quite place it.  I think of those slide guitars and what not that made The Wallflowers popular and, well, that of course brings me back to The Eels as well.    But in a lot of ways, other than those two similar artists, I would have to say that the biggest folk side I hear on here really is from The Only Children, which for those who don’t know is the folk version of The Anniversary (look it up)

So, really, you could say that this is maybe 40% Murder by Death, 40% The Only Children and then 20% The Eels/Wallflowers and that might seem like too simple of a formula to make up such a great album as this (Because right now it is on my radar for Album of the Year) but I think a big factor is also the lyrics and, well, Great Lakes can sum this all up themselves the best: “I am just a man / She is a bird flying”.

[Link]

 

Great Lakes at Get It On Vinyl

Great Lakes’ newest album Wild Vision is the soundtrack of wanderlust and coming of age. The album sounds like it should run throughout the background of a Michael Cera movie where he takes a long road trip to nowhere while having conversations that pretend to be deep but are actually meaningless. The cover even has a southwestern motif with a burnt orange colored sunset across a flat and generic landscape. I don’t mean this as a bad thing but more as a descriptor.

Wild Vision is mid tempo take on the indie rock of the past ten years. This vibe is solidified quickly in the album when lead singer Ben Crum sings, “We’re not really free. We’re just drifting,” in the lead off track, “Swim the River.” The album continues with a dark set of somber tunes. At times, the band is quietly pushing the country envelope which creates an Americana vibe. This is due to superb slide guitar work in tracks like “Wild Again.” Great Lakes shines brightest in the stripped down moments that are sprinkled throughout the album. The moments with steady snare drum and acoustic guitar. These are the moments that come off as authentic. “Blood on My Tooth” is the standout track on the album. The song has an ominous southern gothic feel with its mild threatening lyrics, “You shouldn’t have lied to me, and then asked me for the truth.” It’s the kind of track I like when I hear it played as the opening to an HBO drama but would hesitate to admit to the room.

The first time I listened to the album, it didn’t wash over me correctly. I put it away and left it on the shelf for a week or so. The second and third time I listened to the album, the more I liked it. It has an early My Morning Jacket or A.M. era Wilco feel. Great Lakes never catches fire like My Morning Jacket or Wilco, but they are striking the flint hard and sparks are flying. If the band can catch fire, Wild Vision will be looked at as an album that offered promise.

You can pick up Wild Vision on vinyl at your local record store or fromhttps://greatlakesbencrum.bandcamp.com/album/wild-vision.

[Link]

Great Lakes at Bloodbuzzed

Great Lakes. Formed in Athens, Georgia in 1996 (and initially aligned to the Elephant 6 collective), but based in Brooklyn, NY, since 2002, this ensemble leaded by Ben Crum has released five albums and several 7″ and EPs to date. Initially a trio, they debuted in the year 2000 with self-titled LP followed by ‘The Distance Between’ in 2002, two albums with a distinct, light-hearted psych-pop. But Crum, the only original and founding member along the years and Co. kept evolving towards a more introspective, enduring American folk-rock with their next releases, ‘Diamond Times‘ in 2006 and ‘Ways to Escape’ in 2010. Now the quintet is back with ‘Wild Vision‘, out since this January through their own label Loose Trucks. Moody, confident, warm, the tunes are the perfect proof of a musician and a band in total command of “their game”, summoning the spirits of Gram Parsons and Alex Chilton, and making a work of art of every song. Serious stuff here.

[Link]

Great Lakes at Neufutur

The Brooklyn-by way of Athens- indie band Great Lakes has been spent the past two decades churning out five records and managed to keep their sound evolving thanks to a collective of musicians that have come and gone with nearly each effort. Guitarist/singer Ben Crumb has been at the center of each record and for the latest, “Wild Vision,” he pulled in singer Suzanne Nienaber, bassist David Lerner, drummer Kevin Shea and keyboardist Joe McGinty.

Like most of their other efforts, the band blends a little bit of psychedelic and folk to their Indie Pop, but also rely on pedal steel and mandolins throughout this one for a subtle Americana vibe. The combined vocals of Crumb and Nienaber is a powerful combo, but the slow pace of the songs tend to have a droning effect after a while.

Beautiful but melancholy, regardless of the lyrics, “Wild Vision” is the closest thing the band has created yet to a break up album.

[Link]

Great Lakes at El Planeta Amarillo

La banda americana liderada por el cantante, guitarra y compositor Ben Crum, regresa con nuevo álbum, que supone el quinto en sus veinte años de existencia. En este disco, junto a Ben Crum (guitarra y voz), encontramos a Suzanne Nienaber a la voz, David Lerner (TED LEO AND THE PHARMACISTS) al bajo, Kevin Shea (MOSTLY OTHER PEOPLE DO THE KILLING) a la batería, y Joe McGinty (THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS) a los teclados. Aunque fueron una de las bandas pertenecientes al colectivo Elephant 6 de Athens (Georgia), el grupo se trasladó a Brooklyn en 2002, y con ello perdieron gran parte del halo psicodélico característico del movimiento de Athens, girando su sonido hacia derroteros más propios del rock clásico de guitarras, que es lo que encontramos en estas nueve canciones que han publicado en su propio sello Loose Trucks. Canciones de sonido setentero con influencias del folk y del country, que recuerdan a WILCO, a los PINK FLOYD del ‘A momentary lapse of reason’, pero también a Will Oldham, Robbie Robertson, Gram Parsons, David Knopfler, etc…

Mis favoritas:

1. Bird flying.
2. Wild again.
3. Swim the river.

[Link]

Witching Waves / High Violets / Great Lakes / Eureka California / deardarkhead at Babysue

We’ve always felt there’s been a void in the world of music since The Fastbacks released their unbelievable string of knockout albums in the 1980s and 1990s. There was something particularly appealing about the band’s genuinely delivered loud fuzz pop injected with sinfully addictive hooks. This is the first time in a long time that a band has given us the same general feeling we get when listening to The Fastbacks…and that band is London, England’s Witching Waves. Like most artists on the always entertaining Happy Happy Birthday To Me label, these folks have a nice raw rockin’ sound that has very little in common with present day processed Cheese Whiz. The songs on Crystal Cafe are presented using only the most basic essential ingredients: drums, bass, guitar, and vocals. And that’s all you really need, of course, because it’s the songs that matter most. These eleven tracks have a slight bubblegummy sound that we particularly love, but most folks probably won’t notice this because of the volume and intensity. Witching Waves is the trio comprised of Emma Wigham, Mark Jasper, and Ed Shellard. We sure hope these folks get the reaction they deserve from this album. In a world of calm and dullness, bands like Witching Waves are keeping the spark alive. Groovy buzzsaw cuts include “Twister,” “Red Light Loop,” “The Threat,” and “Receiver.” Totally cool stuff. Top pick.

=

Soaring, lush, beautiful, modern dreamy pop played with style. Heroes and Halos is yet another resounding success for the folks in The High Violets. This is the fifth full-length release from this Portland, Oregon quartet. In some ways the tracks on this album remind us of Ivy but with more of an atmospheric overall slant. The High Violets areClint Sargent (lead guitar, vocals), Kaitlyn Donovan (vocals, guitar), Luke Strahota (drums, percussion), and Colin Sheridan (bass guitar). These folks make music that can best be described as pop, but it’s not the kind of predictable dribble that you might normally associate with the word. While these tracks are hummable and accessible, they are also creative and strikingly intelligent. We love the understated elements. Instead of pushing or forcing, these folks just let the music flow from their veins. And it is this natural flow that makes these tracks sound so wonderfully smooth and slightly surreal. Ten perceptive compositions here including “How I Love,” “Break A Heart,” “Bells,” and “Hearts In Our Throats.” Recommended. Top pick.

=

Hard to believe the group Great Lakes has been around since 1996. But yup, the band has now been around for two decades…and they’re showing no signs of letting up. Originally based in Athens, Georgia, the players are now based in Brooklyn, New York. But even though the geographic location has changed, the sound remains remarkably similar and familiar. The band is driven by the songwriting skills of Ben Crum, a fellow who writes tunes that can pretty much be appreciated by anyone. Crum comes across sounding mighty relaxed and comfortable on Wild Vision, presenting smooth organic tracks that blend elements from folk, pop, and Americana. In addition to Crum the band also includes Kevin Shea on drums, David Lerner on bass, Joe McGinty on keyboards, Phillip Sterk on pedal steel, Heather McIntosh on cello, and Suzanne Nienaber on vocals (the same basic lineup that played on the 2010 release Ways of Escape). Cool, melodic, reflective…if you like the sound of real people playing real music, there’s an excellent possibility you’ll totally dig this stuff. Nine solid tracks including “Swim the River,” “Wild Again,” “I Stay, You Go,” and “Blood On My Tooth.”

=

Real true gritty loud rock isn’t dead…it’s just hibernating beneath the surface while most folks prefer to drink diluted gunk from a baby bottle. Eureka California is one of the brave bands out there playing music that’s just too raw and real for the masses. These folks have hit another home run with Versus. If you love the sound of guitar bands from the late 1980s right on through the 1990s when everyone seemed to be turning up and turning on, there’s a very good chance you’ll totally dig the sound of these tracks. This is the band’s third full-length release but the first to be recorded in a real recording studio. Thankfully none of the band’s edge has been salvaged in the process. Eureka California is the duo of Jake Ward and Marie A. Uhler. Like most of their new releases, the folks at Happy Happy Birthday To Me have released this on a beautifully designed 12″ vinyl LP, complete with a handy dandy download card. Cool rhythms…groovy guitars in overdrive…and lyrics sung with appropriate abandon…what’s not to love here? Ten gripping cuts including “Another Song About TV,” “Fear and Loathing in the Classic City,” “Caffeine,” and “I Will Write Mine Over Potomac.” Wildly neat. Love it. Top pick.

=

The guys in DearDarkHead have been making music since 1988, so we’re kinda embarrassed to admit that we’ve never heard ’em until now. Don’t expect anything retro-1980s here, because retro-1980s these guys are not. This album features instrumentals that combine elements from hard rock and underground shoegazer drone. The band’s music once featured vocals but now that both of the previous vocalists are no longer with the band they are (at least temporarily) an all-instrumental band. Considering this fact, you may be very surprised at how powerful these songs are. The band is now comprised of Kevin Harrington on guitar, Robert Weiss on drums, and Kevin McCauleyon bass. For a three piece band these guys have a great big sound. This is a short album that clocks in at just over twenty-five minutes. But in that amount of time, these guys make it perfectly clear they’re in it for the long run. Groovy, compelling, and hypnotic.

[Link]

Great Lakes / Witching Waves at Fear & Loathing

Witching WavesCrystal Cafe (HHBTM Records)

Witching Waves bash the bleak mid-decade slump with raging pristine minimalism and slithery post-punk tunefulness on their latest creation Crystal Cafe. This album grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go. The pounding tribal punk beats, chunky bass lines, and scratched fuzz guitar lay the foundation for the insanely catchy noise pop vocals of drummer Emma Wigham and guitarist Mark Jasper. Aggressive art punk and experimental garage noise collide, creating a new animal born of anger, despair, and frustration. The grungy symphonic grind of Pink Flag era Wire blends into the white-hot intensity of early no-wave and Vaselines grandeur on this 11 track full length of manic rock meditation.

Heavy with hooks and rawboned single noted phrasing, tracks such as “Twisted”, “Seeing Double”, and “Make It Up” deliver pleasantly eardrum-piercing candy. The intense and deliberate detachment in “Pitiless” and “Flowers” offers a somber detour into the band’s more introspective moods. The red-hot single off this collection is the irresistible and unnerving “The Threat” with its new-wave inspired melody and sophisticated dirty pop production. This is one of my favorite albums of the year so far and definitely a worthy addition to your vinyl or digital library. If the end of the world sounds this good, I hope that it comes tomorrow.

Great LakesWild Vision (Loose Trucks)

Ben Crum, with his latest incarnation of the long running Great Lakes, mischievously remodels Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky with the subtle abandon of Whiskeytown. The singer-songwriter sheds the psych-folk of earlier releases in favor of a darker roots rock approach sprinkled generously with whispered indie intensity. An uplifting melancholia guides the exposed mid-tempos and edgy alt-country ballads. “Swim to the River” and “Kin to the Mountain” demonstrate a firm grasp of mid-70s Neil Young and Rolling Stones country tinged laments. “Bird Flying” and “Blood on My Tooth” are notable standout tracks, extended harmonies fueled by decadent chord changes and brooding percussion.

“Wild Again” perfectly captures the essence of this record with its hallucinogenic slow burn and sweet but bitter psychedelic country choruses. Vibrant but low-key female harmonies accentuate Crum’s unique understated vocal delivery throughout this collection of song, adding to the strength of the refrains and nuanced transitions. Wild Vision is a warm reinvention of Crum’s subliminal artistic vision, every song a crucial component in its soothing shadowy stroll.

[Link]

Great Lakes at Dagger

Records by the Great Lakes have been a bit sporadic, 5 in the last 16 years but it’s ok as I know one will appears sooner or later. The “band” is basically the work of one Ben Crum though for each record he gets a ton of friends to add their magic. Early on, when he was based in Athens, GA he was loosely a part of the Elephant 6 collective (Olivia Tremor Control, Neutral Milk Hotel, Apples in Stereo, etc.) and even had a record out on the Kindercore label (wayyy back in the day). Crum moved to Brooklyn, NY about a decade ago and , as stated somewhere previously, his music “made a darker turn” (from his early poppy records…these days themes seem to be about birds and nature). I wondered how he could top his previous record, 2010’s Ways of Escape, definitely my favorite by him. Not sure if Wild Vision has topped it but it’s at least as goodwithsharp songwriting and all kinds of wild playing. He enlisted the help of friends Kevin Shea on drums, David Lerner on bass, Phillip Sterk on pedal steel and man about town Joe McGinty on keyboards (he’s played with everyone) plus some backup vocalist (Crum handles guitar and the main vocals) and it’s wild ride. Crum’s guitar speaks several languages (reminds me a bit of Neil Young as I’ve stated in previous reviews)  and cuts like “Swim the River,” “Kin to the Mountain’ and the amazing “Wild Again” will just destroy everything in your house while you’re sitting there listening to it (you didn’t need that stuff anyway). He slows it down a bit on cuts like “ I Stay, You Go” and “Blood on My Tooth,” and “Nature is Always True” but those songs lack no power, staying or otherwise. My only real complaint is that he doesn’t record often enough, otherwise, another terrific Great Lakes record.

[Link]

Great Lakes at Examiner

After emerging from the Athens, GA psychedelic pop world of the 90’s Great Lakes relocated to Brooklyn New York leaving their whimsical pop tunes behind. With a new home, Ben Crum made the decision to take his music into a darker direction writing songs that were a bit more substantial and personable. Once again enlisting the services of peers Suzanne Nienaber, Kevin Shea, David Lerner and Joe McGinty Great Lakes set out on a course that would lead to Wild Vision.

The songs on Wild Vision find Crum and friends at a place in life that seems comfortable. Crum’s writing has evolved and the songs resonate this. The soothing “Kin to the Mountain”blends beautiful melodies paired with the vocal harmonies of Crum & Nienaber as they sing about life. Each song on the record stands out because of something different. “Nature Is Always True” is an enjoyable track loaded with jaunty guitars and sweet pedal steel that swirl around Crum’s haunting vocals. The up tempo “Beauties of the Way” provides a 70’s vibe vacant of the soothing country flavors of many of the tunes. On “Swim the River” Great Lakes delivers a soothing soundscape built with multiple layers of sound that all complement each other. A song that really catches listener’s ears is “Wild Again”. This track builds with intensity before exploding into a wild guitar orgy at the end. It encompasses all that is good about Great Lakes music.

Wild Vision is an album that seems simple with songs about relationships and complications of life but when you peel back the surface it is obvious there is much more there. Crum’s words sometimes take a back seat to the marvelous arrangements that flow around and through them so be sure to absorb what he has to say. Great Lakes is an entity that has evolved from a band playing music that was fun to a band playing music with meaning and substance. Hit play, turn up the volume and get lost in the music.

[Link]

Great Lakes at Examiner

After emerging from the Athens, GA psychedelic pop world of the 90’s Great Lakes relocated to Brooklyn New York leaving their whimsical pop tunes behind. With a new home, Ben Crum made the decision to take his music into a darker direction writing songs that were a bit more substantial and personable. Once again enlisting the services of peers Suzanne Nienaber, Kevin Shea, David Lerner and Joe McGinty Great Lakes set out on a course that would lead toWild Vision.

The songs on Wild Vision find Crum and friends at a place in life that seems comfortable. Crum’s writing has evolved and the songs resonate this. The soothing “Kin to the Mountain”blends beautiful melodies paired with the vocal harmonies of Crum & Nienaber as they sing about life. Each song on the record stands out because of something different. “Nature Is Always True” is an enjoyable track loaded with jaunty guitars and sweet pedal steel that swirl around Crum’s haunting vocals. The up tempo “Beauties of the Way” provides a 70’s vibe vacant of the soothing country flavors of many of the tunes. On “Swim the River” Great Lakes delivers a soothing soundscape built with multiple layers of sound that all complement each other. A song that really catches listener’s ears is “Wild Again”. This track builds with intensity before exploding into a wild guitar orgy at the end. It encompasses all that is good about Great Lakes music.

Wild Vision is an album that seems simple with songs about relationships and complications of life but when you peel back the surface it is obvious there is much more there. Crum’s words sometimes take a back seat to the marvelous arrangements that flow around and through them so be sure to absorb what he has to say. Great Lakes is an entity that has evolved from a band playing music that was fun to a band playing music with meaning and substance. Hit play, turn up the volume and get lost in the music.

[Link]