Posts Tagged ‘great lakes’

Great Lakes at Stereo Embers

Perhaps the greatest crime of many perpetuated by such splashy celebrations of glossy mediocrity like the recent Grammys broadcast (the astonishing Kendrick Lamar appearance and a handful of others – the Hamilton bit, the heartfelt BB King tribute – notwithstanding) is the leveling – nay, dulling – impact it tends to have on the sharpness of our greater culture’s receptivity to not only what’s possible in music but what’s actually happening out there in the vast provinces while the assembled glitterati and the millions watching risk shoulder injury patting themselves on the back over baubles and spangly tripe. Not sure how it works but somehow being blinded by celebrity and the attendant narcissism has the residual effect of a kind of clotted-ear deafness as well. A shame on a nation-sized scale, really, as the volume of what’s-being-missed, all of it deeply deeply woven into the American fabric, is, shall we say, off the charts. As an example, let’s start here, with Great Lakes’ fifth album Wild Vision, just released in January on Loose Trucks.

Strong as those inferences may be to these ears, they’re nonetheless nothing more than twinges, innate suggestions, nuantial reference points to make you the reader perk up your ears. I hear all kinds of records coming at me from all corners and it’s not exactly frequent that a collection of songs lands on my stereo that flows with such effortless, mastery-bordering facility that one could easily imagine a modern-day songwriters-in-the-round in some sunny backyard (with storm clouds bunching on the horizon, of course), your Justin Vernons, Sam Beams whatever, all going respectfully quiet, which is to say struck enviously dumb, as this guy Crum unloads gem after gem, their multiplicity of facets only outdone by the cast of canonized familiarity that shines within them. Songwriting-wise, Ben Crum has been heading for this apogee for some while, and on Wild Vision it would seem he’s reached it, a mere twenty years down the road. The mantle of being one of this country’s finest now firmly rests upon his shoulders. As proven here, he can handle it, and certainly deserves it.


Great Lakes at Magnet

Great Lakes hail from Brooklyn and have just released new record Wild Vision. MAGNET’s got you covered if you’re a newbie to Great Lakes, since today we’re offering a free download and stream of “Bird Flying.” A dark and spinning rock tune, “Bird Flying” is the perfect introduction to the band’s intimate-yet-psychedelic style. Check it out below.


Great Lakes at Independent Clauses

Growing up, my mother always made me listen to her music: Bad Company, The Eagles, The Police, etc. Often, I petitioned for listening to “cooler” music, but now I take those words back. I find myself regularly in the mood for some classic rock, and I now understand that you honestly can’t get any cooler than such true examples of rock & roll. The band Great Lakes echoes ‘70s and ‘80s rock & roll while making a sound all their own.Great Lakes’ 5th album release Wild Vision combines the true essence of rock & roll with country instrumentation and a bent towards nature.

“Bird Flying” and “Wild Again” are great reflections of the classic rock & roll vibe with a twist. “Bird Flying” begins with an electric guitar opener that oozes sex appeal. The electric guitar pops back in midway through the song and again at the end. Although the solos are not quite as long as The Eagles’ “Hotel California” solo, Great Lakes’ use of the electric guitar is just as seductive. “Wild Again” uses drums, bass, electric guitar, pedal steel, synthesizer, and even cello to create a very full rock & roll sound with moments of dissonance. The entire song builds to a climax at the end following the last chorus. Picture it: the lyrics “I want to be Wild again/ wild again/ wild again” repeat as the instruments go wild into this magnificent, all-instruments on-deck-outro (with space sounds, to boot)!

“Beauties of the Way,” “Blood on my Tooth,” and “Shot at and Missed” are unique rock & roll experiences. “Beauties of the Way” begins with a drums/guitar beat that instantly reminds me of ‘90s hit “The Way” by Fastball. As the song continues, more guitars and a pedal steel are added. By the end of the track, the initial ‘90s beat is long forgotten and the electric guitar leads the way to another far-out ending. “Blood on my Tooth” has more of a toned-down sound with minimal percussion and a great acoustic guitar rhythm. Then out of nowhere comes this funky, Doors-esque bass line. The lyrics in “Blood on my Tooth” are also very rock & roll: “You shouldn’t have asked if you did not want to get hurt.” “Shot at and Missed” throws you yet again into their funky rock & roll world and includes fun lyrics like, “To the wild/I Go”.

“Kin to the Mountain,” “Nature is Always True” and “I Stay, You Go” have more of a country rock feel, similar to the The Eagles, established through their instrumentation. These songs feature the acoustic guitar and pedal steel more than the other tracks. Great Lakes still maintained their rock sound in these tracks, they just toned it down a bit and featured more acoustic instruments. By softening up their instrumentation, listeners are also enabled to take more notice to the harmonic male/female vocal combination and poetic lyrics.

The lyrics and titles of Wild Vision’s tracks expose Great Lakes’ bent towards nature. I mean, with a name like Great Lakes and an album like Wild Visions, the focus on nature is already pretty evident. “Swim the River,” “Bird Flying,” “Kin to the Mountain,” “Wild Again,” and “Nature is Always True” are the titles of the first five songs–all related to nature. “Kin to the Mountain” contains some of the best nature-focused lyrics on the album, opening with the chorus: “I am kin to the mountain/ kin to the sea/ my name is lightning/ wild vision I’ve seen.” That is a lyric to chew on.

Great Lakes blew me away with Wild Vision. The male/female vocal pairing is harmonic and genuine, but the instrumentation is really what shines in this album. Wild Vision is nothing but true rock & roll. —Krisann Janowitz


Great Lakes at AllMusic

Less than a minute into 2016’s Wild Vision, the fifth full-length album from Great Lakes, group leaderBen Crum and bandmate Suzanne Nienaber join their voices and sing, “I say fare thee well/To all of trouble, to all of care/Let’s breathe the purer air/All the old sadness won’t be there.” However, it’s not hard to get the feeling they’re fibbing a bit; Wild Vision doesn’t wallow in despondency from beginning to end, but it hardly sounds cheerful either, with most of the songs drifting by in a solemn midtempo as drummer Kevin Shea stirs the soup at a deliberate pace. It’s been a long time since Crum has been involved with the Elephant 6 collective, and it makes sense that Wild Vision has little to do with his previous off-kilter pop; in 2016, his music has everything to do with moody but melodic visions with a country undertow brought to the surface by judicious use of acoustic guitars, mandolins, and pedal steel. Lyrically, disappointment seems to be a common thread in these songs, though Crum‘s approach is often impressionistic enough that literal meanings take a back seat to tone, and the tone of this material hardly sounds like Crum‘s characters are doing well in life. (And the gloomy, murmuring singsong of his voice, recalling Seth Tiven of Dumptruck on a sad day, does nothing to enliven the tunes.) From a musical standpoint, Wild Vision feels like a fine rainy-day listen, full of dour but subtly satisfying melodies performed with a gentle touch by Crum and his accompanists, and it’s a shame that the leader’s lyrics and vocals aren’t as consistently pleasing as the rest of this set, though since six years separated Wild Vision and Great Lakes‘ previous album, Ways of Escape, fans are most likely happy that Crum is still delivering new music at all.


Great Lakes at The Vinyl District

Having emerged in Athens, GA roughly two decades ago, Great Lakes’ formative period was the byproduct of three individuals and a load of Southeastern psych-pop support. However, since 2008 the outfit’s increasingly mature country and folk inflected shots have been called from the home base of Brooklyn by founding singer-songwriter-guitarist Ben Crum. Now after a gap of five years Great Lakes are back with Wild Vision; it’s out January 22 on the band’s own Loose Trucks label.

Formed in 1996 when the songwriting tandem of Ben Crum and Dan Donahue hooked up with James Huggins, Great Lakes was initially part of the labyrinthine circuitry comprising the Elephant 6 Collective, mainly through a live lineup featuring many of the scene’s participants including utility bass player Derek Almstead and members of Elf Power, Of Montreal (indeed Kevin Barnes), Essex Green, Ladybug Transistor, and Neutral Milk Hotel.

Furthermore, their second and fourth albums were released on the Elephant 6-associated Orange Twin label as The Apples in Stereo’s honcho Robert Schneider mixed their self-titled 2000 debut for Kindercore. It was an effort defined by sunny neo ‘60s psych-pop, flashes of bold guitar, and occasional distinguishing wrinkles like the AOR-ish keyboard of “Become the Ship.”

While a pleasant affair, Great Lakes is largely of interest to fans of the more forthrightly psych-pop, twee-leaning chapters of the Elephant 6 saga. The record’s 2002 follow-up The Distance Between traveled a similar path, a nifty cover of The Zombies’ “This Will Be Our Year” amongst its selections, but it also stretched out a bit, particularly on the lengthy rocking closer “Conquistadors.”

In 2002 Crum and Donahue moved to Brooklyn as Higgins’ role diminished; 2006’s Diamond Times for Empyrean Records offered a significant stylistic progression. Drifting away from the psychedelic milieu, the template throughout was fortified by the aforementioned country and folk leanings, with “Farther” reminiscent of Wilco’s more straight-ahead moments.

“Hot Cosmos” augmented the Tweedy-esque angle with a ‘70s Buck/Nicks-era Fleetwood Mac bent and horns recalling early Steely Dan, but more importantly “Night Hearts” and the title track exuded resemblances to the less tongue in cheek work of Camper Van Beethoven and David Lowery’s subsequent work in Cracker.

Click through for the rest!


Great Lakes at Here Comes the Flood

Brooklyn based folk band Great Lakes have a new LP, Wild Vision. HCTF is premiering Wild Again, one of the tracks form the new album. Main man Ben Crum provided a little background:

“Wild Again” is a song about longing for a life more connected to the natural world, but settling for some form of metaphorical wildness within. It’s about living in New York City and feeling a pull towards open spaces and a simpler, slower paced existence. Over the years I’ve had many friends who had this same feeling, like a magnetic pull to move upstate, back down south, to California (or wherever) or to find a simpler, more basic kind of life, and to get away from the often hectic experience of life in big, crazy city. When we play this song live people tend to assume it’s a song about wanting to be young, wild and free of responsibilities. While I wouldn’t discount anyone’s take, that wasn’t what I intended when I wrote it.

Click through to stream a track.


Great Lakes at Mad Mackerel

Great Lakes formed back in 1996 in Athens, Georgia and has been based in Brooklyn, NY since 2002. The band has released four albums. A fifth record called Wild Vision will come out this month on the band’s own label, Loose Trucks.

While their early records traded in a whimsical, light-hearted psychedelia, the band have gradually gravitated toward more personal songs, with a darker tone. That pattern continues with Wild Vision.

Have a listen to Swim The River.


Great Lakes at Innocent Words

“It is as close to a personal love song as anything I’ve put out as Great Lakes so far. It’s a song about learning from and being inspired by another person. I wrote it after a period of several years where I toured a lot with Great Lakes, Essex Green and Ladybug Transistor. I was single for a long time, and very much just floating through life without many serious attachments. Though that was fun for a while, I found myself longing for a more meaningful connection. When
I met the woman that I would go on to marry I wrote this song for her, and for myself,for us, really.”
~~ singer/songwriter/guitarist Ben Crum