Great Lakes: Contenders  LP   (HHBTM Records)

Release date: February 4, 2022

Great Lakes - Contenders LP (HHBTM Records)

Bio: Ben Crum doesn’t need to contend for anything; the leader of the long-running Great Lakes proved himself two decades ago on his very first outing. Contenders, the band’s seventh album, finds Crum basking in a keen sense of roots-y psychedelic Americana that recalls the fertile grounds of Upstate New York. Yet the music itself is a warm, sunny soundtrack that brings to mind road trips across the dusty Midwest and miles and miles of nothing in between. Fans of Built To Spill, My Morning Jacket, Luna, and Deserters Songs-era Mercury Rev will find much to love in Contender’s grooves.

But don’t think that because the music ambles along dirt roads that the music isn’t cerebral; Contenders’ subject matter includes philosophical wonderings on love, sex, the temporal nature of man, the frustrations of creative partnerships, and the heady, hopeful times of your late teens and early twenties, where the world seems full of endless possibilities. Contenders offers up some of the finest songs you’ll hear that take inspiration in things such as The Band, the free youth of South Africa, and “The Gambler.”

“it’s easy when you know how,” Crum sings, and it’s no boast; Great Lakes make it look and seem so easy, so seamless.

In other words, they’re just being themselves.

For Contenders, Ben Crum is joined by longtime collaborators Kevin Shea on drums and Suzanne Nienaber on vocals, with contributions from The Essex Green’s Chris Ziter (vocals) , Louis Schefano (drums), Petter Folkedal (piano), Ray Rizzo (vocals) and Dave Gould (synths). The album was produced by Ben Crum, mixed by Luis Leal, and mastered by Jen Munson.