Blood Sea Dream is Grand Lake’s full-length debut. Eschewing any usual monikers, the Oakland quartet consider their music “fuckwave,” a tag which questions their attachment to categorization. This encapsulates the spirit of an album likely to be smothered by typical calls for cohesion or clarity. Just observe its title; an awareness of the unconscious mind raises the possibility of strangeness, the unexpected, and elements for which the dreamer cannot account for — of a place in which the disparate and unrelated can coexist. Unlike a dream, you’ll be very much awake for this listening experience, as the difference of each track holds your attention.

 

From the song titles, one might expect interesting music to follow, and, one listen later, follow it does. “Threnody For F.A Mesmer” is an eerie, wordless lustre with an echoing drum which sounds like a heartbeat. Given that a threnody is a lamentable song for the dead, an intriguing contrast arises. Certain songs on this record evoke some little known music by commendable bands. Take “My Father As A Forest Full Of Trees,” for example, which fuses sounds of Michael Tighe’s band The A.M. and The Sons’ “Too Much Of A Good Thing.” On “Oedipus Hex (Hwy 1 North)” you may hear a sonic homage to The Pixies.

Listen to “Louise (I Live In A Fantasy)” – DOWNLOAD MP3


 

Yet caution in comparison is useful, because without it, one risks overlooking qualities unique to Grand Lake, and does a disservice to their musicianship and songwriting, which have been solidly crafted over fifteen years. In “Concrete Blonde On Blonde (880 South),” and “Why Do You Lie To Me (Faggot Blues),” the occasional angry vocals and distortion contrast with gorgeous melodies, reverb-drenched guitars, cellos, and violins. The beautiful “Our Divorce” is theirs alone: “May our divorce be quick and clean…/ I was you when you were me/ We must be cut down the middle.” In Caleb Nichols’ hushed voice, and over the violins and rising and descending guitars, these lyrics are all the more powerful.

If however, it is in comparison that you find a place to fit this record’s flux and unrest, let it not also be in detraction from Grand Lake, or, as I have heard, in erroneous alignments with bands such as The Arcade Fire. Comparisons serve only to demonstrate how varied this album is. More apt perhaps might be to say that, with a penchant for Jesus And Mary Chain or Big Star, this offering might be for you. Yet, more apt still might be to say, if you don’t already like Grand Lake, then, serving as a wake up call, Blood Sea Dream is definitely for you.

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