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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Great Lake Swimmers
Great Lake Swimmers
Misra Records

Rating: 7.5/10 ?


July 5, 2005
Loving music as I do, it is a strange experience listening to the records my family enjoys. Since I know them well, realizing that my straight-laced father enjoys The Wall, or that my farmhand grandmother speaks lovingly of Elvis brings a whole new dimension to their lives. Did he know that outside of his Indiana home, there were people who used Pink Floyd to "expand their minds"? Did she have her own opinions of the King's gyrations - thoughts she couldn't share with Grandpa? And what did they think in the 60s, when folk pop was as present on the radio as rock and roll? Was it back porch music to hum along with? Did they equate the dulcet, acoustic rounds with the political turmoil of the times, or just find it pleasantly dismissible?

The Great Lake Swimmers' debut brings to mind many of the classic folk albums so eminent then, and feels as telling. Soft yet strong, its importance is clear to a careful listener, but its sound is likeable enough to admire on the surface as well. Recalling the lauded past - from Nick Drake and Van Morrison to Neil Young and Mazzy Star - as well as the present of American folk, Great Lake Swimmers is a diamond to be chased from far outside of view. Its most modern comparison will likely be made by way of Iron & Wine, which is, of course, a compliment to Tony Dekker and his craft.

Venturing forth with the surprisingly dreamy "Moving Pictures Silent Films," the Great Lake Swimmers provide a nice balance of hollowness and echoing, giving their work a satisfyingly rustic but ethereal feel. While the track is, as many of its peers on the album, a tale of unbridled melancholy, it shines with heavenly harmonies and keeps its intentions on hope and salvation. The following "The Man with No Skin" is immediately warmer and edgier, but makes these changes in a subtle way: never raising his voice, Dekker uses decayed chord progressions to symbolize restlessness and the desire to repent. His brand of folk-pop works sublimely at a higher level but never loses sight of the personal - it is a formula that brings success at every turn.

With continual, friendly reminders that subtle shifts move glaciers, it is easy to recall the works of Simon Joyner ("Moving, Shaking"), Damien Jurado ("Great Lake Swimmers") and fellow Misrans Phosphorescent ("I Will Never See the Sun") as Dekker defaults to greater wisdom. His eyes are starry and knowing, and his perspective is compelling and true. "This is Not Like Home" visualizes a reconnection with nature after intense sorrow: smoking a cigarette in damp grass at twilight, there is beauty to surround the aching. In fact, smoke is a fine comparison - many of his songs move like puffs from an open mouth, billowing out and hanging in the air, stale and earthy but mesmerizing. Even with swimming, overwhelming harmonies, as on "Faithful Night, Listening", or Youngian beached beach reveries, as on "The Three Days at Sea", where nature seeks to reclaim the optimistic upper hand, even the prettiest encounters feel a little deadened. Perhaps Dekker is too aware for idealism, or perhaps the unspoiled notions specked within the world are doing their best to win him over once again; either way, the dichotomy of being at once holy and unclean is played perfectly, and classically, here. Like the watery themes throughout, one can flail and fight or be lapped up, but will doubtlessly be moved in either case. As Dekker shows us his struggles and his occasional willingness to give in, we can't help but be moved in turn.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters

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