Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The moon tonight

Image: Your personal moon

River's Edge - Great Lake Swimmers

Put There by the Land (live) - Great Lake Swimmers

Great Lake Swimmers is a maddening band to invest anything-- time, money, energy-- in. For the several here-and-there brilliant, breathtaking songs ("Moving Pictures, Silent Films," "Where In the World Are You," "Your Rocky Spine") there are many times that number in bland mediocre tracks that attempt to get by on atmosphere alone. The problem is that the band works with such soft, soft materials, shaping sandcastles from dry sand eager to revert to beach. Their latest has a little more gusto and gumption, a few bends and sharp edges, sounding heavily influenced by Out of Time-era REM (ok, not exactly rockin'). Ironically, though, it's one of the doughy numbers, "River's Edge" that's caught my ear. It sounds like a hymn and, um, like a Great Lake Swimmers song. Go figure.

And to show the band sounds pretty much the same live as in studio (I know, you didn't ask), one of their really good songs: "Put There by the Land."

From Lost Channels (eMusic, Amazon) and Live EP, Myspace

Your Control (w/ Neko Case) - Crooked Fingers

Sleep All Summer (live w/ Emma Pollock) - Crooked Fingers

I guess I'm on record as not liking Crooked Fingers' last release so much. I respect Eric Bachmann's songwriting but, man, he can make really confounding lyric and production choices! His duo with Neko Case, "Your Control" is Forfeit/Fortune's best track (despite the cheap gilt shine) and after seeing him perform it last week opening for Case with minimal instrumentation, I've learned what an unlodgable earworm it can be. (Aw, I'm a sucker for a song with rounds.) Lumbering, laconic and sort of shy-seeming, Bachmann's a solid stage presence and performer, so if you never have, see him live in band or solo guise.

The couple years old live duet with Delgados' Emma Pollock is of negligible recording quality, but a very nice performance nevertheless.

From Forfeit/Fortune (eMusic, Amazon) and Sleep All Summer 7" (eMusic), Myspace