If this were an outdoor blog you might be asking, where the heck is Lake Ruth? Since this is a music blog I don’t need to give you directions, hopefully you know where to find records on the internet. Hewson Chen of The New Lines, Matt Schulz of Savak, Holy Fuck, Enon along with vocalist Allison Brice from The Eighteenth Day of May opened up their resort earlier this year with a single that was like a cool drink perspiring on the arm of your Adirondack chair while you gazed at the ripples spreading out on the glassy lake.
If you are a fan of Chen’s New Lines, you will be likely be staying a while at Lake Ruth.They have expanded and updated the place with the luxurious long player Actual Entity. You get the sense that the place was built in the 60’s by a French architect who went to school in Berlin and studied Italian Renaissance. Also I think the place may have been used as the set for some long forgotten sci-fi television series, but I can’t be certain. Grab a copy and see if you can figure it out.
Sometimes an album cover will make you take notice of a band that you may have previously ignored. I’m not sure why I’ve never listened to a Lake album, but I had not until the cover of The World Is Real caught my eye. There is something aesthetically pleasing to the cover, like a vintage postcard or a faded photograph found in a shoebox in your grandparents’ closet that made me want to take this record home and give it a try.
A leap of faith? Maybe, but now I’m a Lake believer. The World Is Real is full of sophisticated sounding pop that fans of Sea and Cake, No Kids and Jim Ruiz are well acquainted with. Leading off the album is Do You Recall with its slight Sea and Cake vibe mixed with Seeds of Love era Tears for Fears. It’s full technicolor with a kaleidoscope of sounds anchored by bounding bass. The next song Parallel Lines features trippy guitars and vocals from Ashley Eriksson that are part Trish Keenan and part Free Design. Next up is Combat Culture with bouncy Beach Boys rhythm, ba-ba’s, and horns. Surely the songs will knock off in quality at some point, right? Wrong. This record keeps you on your toes to the end and is a joy to listen to, especially at really loud volumes so all of the sounds jab, dive and loop in front of your very eyes. Amazing that this Olympia band has been right under my nose all of the years. I’ve got some catching up to do.
You can stream The World is Real in its entirety at Lake’s bandcamp page. Catch them live on the east coast:
Fri 10/4 PURCHASE, NY SUNY Purchase
Sat 10/5 BROOKLYN, NY Shea Stadium
Sun 10/6 PHILADELPHIA, PA WKM
Mon 10/7 BALTIMORE, MD The Metro Gallery
Tue 10/8 CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA Tea Bazaar
Wed 10/9 DURHAM, NC Pinhook
Thu 10/10 KNOXVILLE, TN The Pilot Light
Fri 10/11 ATHENS, GA The World Famous
Sat 10/12 JACKSONVILLE, FL Burro Bar
Blouse at the Vera Project, Seattle | 17 September 2013
The big news about Blouse‘s second album Imperium is that Portland band has ditched their synths and gone for the guitar, bass and drum (and cello) approach on this new batch of songs. While this isn’t exactly a controversial approach, it is different and so sets them up for the possibility of fans being upset about their new direction. One thing Blouse proved on their debut album was that they could write a decent pop song. So the real question is can they still write a descent pop song? The next question is do the new songs sound as good with the new approach? Yes, and yes. In fact, Imperium has better songs that make a bigger impression on the listener.
Their self-titled debut had some good songs but its synth based sound caused the record to float by like a plastic band in the wind. Easy to take notice of, but not leaving a lasting impression. Imperium has no such problem. There are remnants of their stylized sythesizers, but they are replaced with a cello. This record deals in guitars, rumbly bass and Charlie Hilton’s ethereal vocals. The closest comparison would be to Broadcast‘s The Noise Made by People. There is a folk-based 60 sound to Hilton’s vocals similar to Wendy & Bonnie and the Free Design combined with comet scar guitars and other interstellar stardust that floats out of the speakers when you play this record.
Last night at the Vera Project they really let loose. The guitars were turned up and the keyboard was in the corner as they glided through the best of the new album putting new wings on songs like Arrested, 1000 Years and Trust Me. In photo’s Blouse appear as a trio, but they’ve added a second guitar player who plays a beautiful lavender Jazzmaster. This additional power made the songs crackle and spark. The band appeared loose and it seemed like the songs felt new to them making it fun for everyone. They dolled out Cure-like baselines, shards of shoegaze noise pop while Charlie’s voice seemed to float on top of it all. The twin guitar attack of Arrested was easily the highlight of the show. It suspended time and place and created a nebulous cloud of euphoria in the room. One of the best shows I’ve seen this year.
Here are the remaining dates of their West Coast tour:
9/20 Portland, OR – Star Theater
9/21 San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill
9/22 Los Angeles, CA – The Echo
9/25 San Diego, CA – The Void
9/26 Costa Mesa, CA – Detroit Bar
This song Speed of Sound by Beat Mark has taken over my waking thoughts for the past day. It is one half of the upcoming split single with the Two Bit Dezperados (The Two Bit Dezperados song Blind on the flip is recommended to anyone that digs Thee Oh Sees). Beat Mark hail from the Isle de France, sing in English and jangle like Scots. This split single follows their debut album Howls of Joy that came out on Final Taxi last year. Speed of Sound may be their best song yet. It’s certainly less garage-y and polished up slightly more than their previous output. In fact, it is so classic sounding it I keep wondering if it’s a cover. It has a slight Free Design touch to it, a little bit of a Small Factory sunny disposition and some Veronica Fall urgency. When a song catches the light like this, you are left to helplessly play it again and again.
stream: Beat Mark – Speed of Sound
Order the split single from Shit Music for Shit People. While you’re there be sure and check out the Strange Hands record that SMFSP has as well. It’s a doozy.
Here’s a song from Beat Mark’s album Howls of Joy. You can listen to the entire album at their Soundcloud, and if you are in the US you can order it from Insound.