REVIEW: Lake Michigan – “Pylons, Telephone Wires, Trees In The Clearing”

lakemichiganpylonsLake Michigan is a project that really embodies the whole “bedroom recording” thing. It’s a genre that, by it’s very nature, allows for musicians to release a lot of material in a very short time. It’s a genre that seems to be built on simplicity and aesthetics. Since 2012, Christopher Marks has released about eight EPs (and one split with Hopelesstown).

Pylons, Telephone Wires, Trees In The Clearing is different from most of his older releases though. It stay true to past recordings musically, as the songs are still lo-fi and acoustic. The vocals that are what really struck me as different on this one. There isn’t a lot of signing on Pylons, Telephone Wires, Trees In The Clearing. Most songs are delivered with a deadpan, spoken word type approach. Even when there is singing, like in “Sober,” it’s still very flat in delivery.

These four songs made think of two things immediately. The first being old Bright Eyes songs. The second being old Kind Of Like Spitting songs. I hear a lot of “It’s Cool, We Can Still Be Friends” and “We Got As Far As Minnesota” (respectively) in these songs. Not in a shitty, derivative way. More in a shared experience way. I like Lake Michigan for the same reason I like those bands. They are projects built around strong songwriters who aren’t afraid to write honest, personal songs.

I’ve said it a million times before, but honesty counts. Pylons, Telephone Wires, Trees In The Clearing is an honest record. Marks doesn’t shy away from expressing vulnerability, nostalgia, or desire. Call it bedroom music, call it folk, or whatever else. It’s just good. Ok?

Lake Michigan
Ruined Smile Records
Wolf Town DIY
Bandcamp

REVIEW: The Blue Period – “And Suddenly The Days Draw Long Like Light​-​Years”

blueperiodThe Blue Period is a band that, in the most basic of terms, plays indie/emo music. They definitely have that classic Midwestern sound to them. There are definite Owen / American Football influences. There are also similarities to more contemporary bands, like Football Etc. or maybe a little Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate). They have a very comfortable and familiar sound. That said, they aren’t overpowered by those influences. They definitely stand on their own feet..

And Suddenly The Days Draw Long Like Light​-​Years is a solid EP that really covers all the bases one would like it to. The dual vocals of Celia Macdougall and Chris Moore are definitely one of the best strengths of the EP. They are both strong enough to carry a song by themselves, but are also able to reign things in for great interplay. When they’re splitting songs, neither overpowers the other. A lot of bands in this genre are built on one lead vocal, so this helps set them apart from other bands. The rest of the genre staples are pretty routinely touched upon. The production is a little grittier than most similar records, but that is really a strength as well.

The Blue Period is a young band. They have set a really great foundation down on And Suddenly The Days Draw Long Like Light​-​Years. The biggest problem they have is with how crowded this genre is. There used to be a time where a band from the UK playing this style would have a certain novelty to them. This isn’t really the case anymore. I don’t know much about their local scene in Nottingham, but I’m starting to feel like there might be more Midwest emo influenced bands in the UK than we have here in the actual Midwest.

See, I’m from the Midwest. Illinois to be specific. There is a lot of history here for this kind of music. I remember a time when a million bands in the Chicago area played this kind of stuff. And I remember how difficult it was to find the good stuff. There are a lot of these kinds of bands in the UK now, and they are going to have a similar problem. The Blue Period have the potential to break away from the pack of indie/emo bands, they just need to get a bit more adventurous. It will be wonderful to see what they do next.

The Blue Period
Bandcamp
Ruined Smile Records
Good Post Day Records
Wolf Town DIY
Eat A Book
strictly no capital letters