Thursday, April 5th, 2012
Changes With The Wind
Great Lake Swimmers at Sonic Boom in Toronto
Frank YangWhat’s better than hearing a new album on the day that it’s released? How about hearing it live? Okay, the former might have carried a little more weight a decade ago when records weren’t consistently available to stream online well before they were available to buy, but there’s still something special about the latter. So it was pretty nice of Great Lake Swimmers to mark the release of their fifth album New Wild Everywhere this past Tuesday with a full-band, plugged-in in-store performance at Sonic Boom where they showcased ten of the record’s twelve tracks with a one-song encore from their back catalog.
Even if you hadn’t heard the recorded versions, it was pretty clear from the new material that this was far from the same band that recorded their spare, almost spectral self-titled debut in an abandoned grain silo a decade earlier. Each subsequent record has fleshed out their sound a little more, certainly, and Tony Dekker’s songwriting hasn’t changed dramatically over that time but with New Wild Everywhere – the band’s first album recorded in a proper studio – it feels as though the reverberations of that grain silo have finally faded to silence and the fields that surrounded it have been gradually built up to the point that the landscape is no longer recognizable. There’ve been subtle changes from record to record, certainly, but for a band who deals in subtleties it doesn’t necessarily take a lot to effect a dramatic change.
In specifics beyond just the aesthetic, Everywhere seems to complete the transformation into a folk-pop band that their past releases had just flirted with; tempos are zippier and choruses bigger and live, there’s considerably more electric guitar in play. This shift was more pronounced live as there just seemed to be more everything – guitar, banjo, fiddle, vocals – in the mix; whereas previously the space left open was as much a part of their sound as what they played, now it sounded busy almost to the point of distraction. Which is not to say it sounded bad – though initial impressions are that this batch of songs don’t quite measure up to Dekker’s best compositions, they’re solid and the players behind them skilled – but for those who’d followed the band since those early recordings, it’s hard not to feel like something of what made them unique has been buried or left out in a field.
The band performed the whole of the new album for CBC Music and that recording should be available to stream in whole later today; currently they’ve got one song available. NOW has video of one of Tuesday evening’s performances, while aux.tv, The Vancouver Sun, The Montreal Gazette, and The Toronto Star all have features on the band. After touring North America and Europe, they return home for a show at The Music Hall on June 2.
Photos: Great Lake Swimmers @ Sonic Boom – April 3, 2012
MP3: Great Lake Swimmers – “Pulling On A Line”
MP3: Great Lake Swimmers – “Your Rocky Spine”
MP3: Great Lake Swimmers – “I Am A Part Of A Large Family”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Easy Come Easy Go”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “River’s Edge”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Stealing Tomorrow”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Palmistry”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Pulling On A Line”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Still”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Back Stage With The Modern Dancers”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Your Rocky Spine”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “To Leave It All Behind”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Bodies & Minds”
The Line Of Best Fit is streaming a new track from Cold Specks’ debut album I Predict A Graceful Expulsion, due out May 22, and The Guardian a profile piece. She opens up the aforementioned Great Lake Swimmers show on June 2 at the Music Hall.
Stream: Cold Specks – “Blank Maps”
No longer timely, but prior to last weekend’s Juno awards Spinner ran a number of interviews with nominees – there was this piece with Coeur de Pirate about her appreciation for Drake and The Weeknd, this one with Patrick Pentland and Jay Ferguson of Sloan about their odds of winning and this chat with The Rural Alberta Advantage about what their roles at the awards ceremony might be as well as this one, post-awards. For the record, none of the three won – maybe they should have made a Christmas album.
Rolling Stone has posted up a video session with Patrick Watson recorded at SXSW. His new album Adventures In Your Own Backyard comes out April 17 and they’ve a gig at The Music Hall on May 29, but before that is a special show at the CBC’s Glenn Gould Studio on April 11 which you can win tickets for at CBC Music.