|Lord Huron — Lonesome Dreams (2012)|
Lord Huron — Lonesome Dreams
Location: Los Angeles, California
Album release: October 9th, 2012
Record Label: IAMSOUND
01. Ends Of The Earth (4:42)
02. Time To Run (5:24)
03. Lonesome Dreams (4:15)
04. The Ghost On The Shore (4:37)
05. She Lit A Fire (4:27)
06. I WIll Be Back One Day (3:25)
07. The Man Who Lives Forever (5:17)
08. Lullaby (3:53)
09. Brother (Last Ride) (4:05)
10. In The Wind (5:00)
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≈ “Gut–level, emotive songwriting that hits directly and honestly.” — Pitchfork
≈ “What sets the project apart is the level of their craft and the feeling of travel and discovery in the lyrics and sound.” — LA Weekly
≈ “Best of What’s Next” — Paste
By Stephen Thompson
≈ Ever scroll around on an old–fashioned radio dial and hear two stations drift together? It's like a distant, ghostly ancestor of the mashup, wherein one band's rhythms might mix with another's guitar solo to create something new, if ephemeral and hard to re–create. Lonesome Dreams, the first full–length album from the L.A. band Lord Huron, creates that effect at times, as the cavernous choruses of Fleet Foxes or My Morning Jacket collide with the polyrhythmic playfulness of, say, Givers.
≈ It's an alluring mix. Indie–choirboy folk music has a way of sometimes slowing to a crawl — of sacrificing momentum at the altar of prettiness — while a lot of vaguely worldly, rhythm–intensive music can feel sterile and showy, its emotion lost amid the precision. The brainchild of singer–songwriter Ben Schneider, Lord Huron finds a way to triangulate the best of both sounds, with songs that feel wide–open and ambitious, but also giddy and unpredictable. There's motion to them, whether or not the percussion has kicked in. Songs like "Time to Run," with its goofy Western–style video, have a roiling quality, while maintaining room to breathe and seethe along the way.
≈ Out Oct. 9, Lonesome Dreams comes along at just the right time of year, meeting as it does between the beachy lightness of summer and the bittersweet plaintiveness of autumn. It straddles the seasons with disarming deftness — sunny enough to distract, sweet enough to comfort.
Review by Fred Thomas
≈ Following two low–profile EPs, Lonesome Dreams is the debut from Michigan–born/Los Angeles–based sound sculptor Ben Schneider and his band Lord Huron. The wide-open pastoral feel of the album seems designed to calm the ongoing argument happening with Schneider's songwriting sensibilities, which seem conflicted between jubilant indie pop wanderlust and stoic traditionally structured Americana. The album opens with "Ends of the Earth," a jaunty and triumphant song filled with imagery of rivers, mountains, and arid desertscapes. As well constructed as the song is, it follows so closely the open–ended indie folk style of Fleet Foxes, My Morning Jacket, and the like that it comes off as a pretty blatant ripoff and little else. The searching harmonies and overblown pondering of nature don't help. However, as soon as the song fades out, "Time to Run" begins with watery field recordings of bells and washy synth tones before bursting into a jubilant slice of acoustic pop owing equal parts to Animal Collective's happy–go–lucky freaked sounds and Paul Simon's Afro–pop–borrowing optimism. The song is beyond catchy and beyond happy, bounding along ecstatically between huge choruses, friendly verses, and experimental found sound breakdowns. ♠ Being of several minds like this is the crux of Lonesome Dreams. Somewhere between the feral experimentation of freak folk, the sunny polyrhythms, and the obligatory references to rocks and trees that come with soul–searching folk–informed indie rock like this, Lord Huron either sound like brilliantly happy tropical indie rock (as on "The Man Who Lives Forever") or under–produced young country (as with the hokey title track). Schneider's affected vocals muddy the waters some as well, taking down some of the album's plentiful bright melodies with a heavy mountain–man accent. Rarely do the two worlds meet in the middle as well as they do on "Time to Run," though mellower tracks like "Ghost on the Shore" and "In the Wind" create more space for the album's softer intricacies. While Lonesome Dreams paints its sound in broad, thoughtful strokes, it's at its best when the arrangements meet up with hooks. ♠ Unfortunately, the album is heavier on Western atmosphere and manicured harmonies than it is inspired hooks. While it's a pleasant enough listen, the entire album falls short of the potential opulence hinted at by its best tracks.
By Will Hermes
≈ October 9, 2012
≈ "Oh, there's a river that winds on forever/I'm gonna see where it leads," begins Lord Huron's debut LP, campfire strumming and robust vocal harmonies ghosted by tuneful howls somewhere between cowboy yodels and coyote bays. Ben Schneider's soaring folk–rock project conjures a life unfettered and outside of time — roads and rivers wind, a man wanders beneath trees ("She Lit a Fire") or imagines sitting by a lake "for a thousand years" ("In the Wind"). The palette is broad, with layered guitars, harmonica and saloon piano tinged with gamelan–style percussion ("Brother") and Asian–flavored melodies ("Setting Sun"), all serving an impressionist Wild West cosmology that includes Schneider's visual art and film work. It's ambitious, beguiling stuff. "Forget all your troubles," he sings on "Lullabye" — the prettiest track on an album fat with beauty — inviting the listener to "dream of laughter and old friends and lovers," and giving you the tools to do it. Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com
By Paul Thompson, October 9, 2012 / 5.6
≈ Ben Schneider's a man out of time, all rust–colored and sepia–toned, prone to dressing like an extra from Cold Mountain. The Lord Huron frontman sings of river crossings, trudging through forests, shouting out his love from the mountaintops, all these big, romantic, pre–cell–phone notion of fidelity, honor, the lay of the land. After a couple of well–received EPs — including 2010's fine Mighty — the Michigan–to–L.A. transplant's debut LP, Lonesome Dreams, finds Schneider digging his mud–caked heels into his music's more rustic side, shedding much of the electronic flourishes and international flavors of his early EPs and going to town on harmony–rich folk–rock. But by throwing the focus onto the latter half of his Urban Cowboy routine, Schneider's vision has narrowed, his once–vibrant, open–armed Americana now overcautious, content to shoot squarely for the middle.
≈ Mighty found Schneider couching his amber–tinted, My Morning Jacket–indebted wallops with clattering rhythms and meandering arrangements, lending the music both a dynamism and a dreamlike quality well–suited to his chronologically unfixed lyrics. ≈ Sonically, Lonesome Dreams is crisper, less woozy, likely a product of Schneider's time with Lord Huron's five–piece traveling ensemble. He's still drawing deep from the well of what's come to represent "American music" in 2012: mostly acoustic instruments, pile'o'choirboys harmonies, lyrics about long distances and time–spanning loves, that sort of thing. But, where Mighty saw Schneider playing with the edges of the form, Lonesome Dreams sticks with the tried–and–true. All this makes for a mean case of deja vu. Not only is Schneider's wanderer's spirit harder and harder to locate amidst the 100–part vocals and galloping melodies, he seems to be retreating into his influences here, with Lonesome Dreams traveling the same dusty trails as the current princes of the provincial, Fleet Foxes.
≈ Two things here. Upon arrival, Fleet Foxes, too, were met with a lot of "CSNY + MMJ = :S"–style hangwringing; reductive, sure, if not entirely unwarranted. And in his review of their Mighty EP, our Ian Cohen noted the influence of both My Morning Jacket's grain–silo harmonies and Animal Collective's bleary drift on the material while adding that this kind of influence–sleuthing alone doesn't often make for the most helpful criticism. And, you know, I tend to agree. But, man, this Fleet Foxes thing isn't just close, it's uncanny, both sonically and structurally, and it's a hard thing to see around. There was more than a whiff of Fleet Foxes in the choral pile–ons of Mighty, though that was cut through with that record's trickier rhythms and unfixed edges. Ten seconds into opener "Ends of the Earth", you've already got a rustly Pecknoldian strum and a pile of flyaway harmonies; a minute in, the song pivots, exploding into a towering vocal line that'd catch even the most dyed–in–the–wool Foxes fan wondering if they missed a demo. That chiming hollowbody guitar tone, all those 10–part campire kumbayas, verses quickly followed by a mirror–image instrumental? The gang's all here. Fleet Foxes didn't forge their sound out of wholly original material, it's true, but like any good band, they rearrange and reconstitute their sources in manner that's become unmistakably theirs. You know a Fleet Foxes song when you hear one. Unless, of course, you're listening to Lord Huron.
≈ Lonesome Dreams' instant knock of familiarity will prove comforting for some, but it gives these tracks something of a plug–and–play feel. Many songs are dramatically assembled, and all of them move, but when they move in pretty much the same ways as another, spryer band, it's that much harder to get caught up in their attendant drama. It doesn't help Schneider, head often planted in a very different decade, seems to be having some trouble saying much about the present through the lens of the past, so ends up not really saying much of anything at all. His love is the timeless kind, but he's so scant with details, so quick with platitudes, that it congeals into this sweet but somewhat blank mishmash of horses with no names and walking 500 miles and just–passing–through–ma'ams. But beyond a few well-worn turns-of-phrase and all that pining, there's not much meat there. Even the best of the bunch, "Time to Run", never quite gets to why exactly Schneider finds himself on the move, and skimping on details is never a good look where historical fiction is concerned.
≈ Schneider remains a gifted (if less daring) arranger, able to steadily build steam throughout a track, knowing where to stick choruses for the maximum payoff without bludgeoning you with them, Mumfords–style: These songs are sturdy, and what marks they set for themselves, they hit. But Mighty managed all that, too, while folding in alluring pockets of psychedelia and offering up a little more to go on lyrically on than Lonesome Dreams' tepid Larry McMurtryisms. Schneider's certainly not alone in thinking harmony–heavy vocals, bustling strums, and a couple–three "brother of mines" is enough to conjure up some romanticized notion of the past. But it's all so carefully composed, so studiously old–timey, this once–vibrant vision of American music overlaid with the drab browns and coppers of a Six Flags souvenir photobooth.
≈ Fortaken: http://pitchfork.com
Written by Mary Broome
≈ Ben Schneider is the calypso–rock–Voodoo–poet–Atlas behind Lord Huron, seemingly bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders. In 2010, I took their single "Mighty" and ran. I was pleasantly obsessed and assuaged by the tropical sounds and soothing sentiments Schneider delivered on Lord Huron's debut EPs "Into The Sun" and "Mighty." As Lonesome Dreams teasers began to appear this summer, they led me to believe that: A) Schneider and his band were reading my mind and making exactly the record I wanted, and B) It would be one of the most incredible things I would hear in a long, long time.
≈ When I received my review copy last month, I nearly started a Footloose–style dance party at my desk. Here we were, just me and my most anticipated album of the past couple years.
≈ Setting the wheels in motion is "Ends of the Earth," a song befitting the opening scene of a spaghetti western directed by David Lynch. We befriend the narrator as he awakes from an epiphanic dream. He's a restless romantic aiming to manifest his destiny out West, and together we sprint alongside the spirited getaway train that is "Time to Run." Now that the narrative has been established, we catch our breath with the title track and reflect on the lonesome road that has led us far from home. The solitary harmonica introduces us to "The Ghost on The Shore," a haunting, gorgeous elegy to all that we left behind, all that Schneider once knew growing up on Lake Huron. This is Lord Huron's origin story: "Die if I must, let my bones turn to dust, I'm the lord of the lake, and I don't want to leave it." (I cry almost every time I listen to this song.) The fullness in Schneider's voice is accompanied by an acoustic guitar to gently carry us away from the edge and reinvigorate our souls with my favorite track on the record, "She Lit A Fire."
≈ Schneider's is a treacherous quest that tests his resolve. We journey onward with him, in and out of consciousness. The music matches our emotions that roll up and down with conviction ("I Will Be Back One Day"), playful optimism ("The Man Who Lives Forever") and suspicion ("The Stranger"). Maybe it would be better to fall back to sleep, the dreamer laments, since our troubles won't find us there... Or will they?
Beside Schneider's lyrical portraits of adventure, heartache and regret is Mark Barry's impressive percussion churning, finding us at every turn and reminding us to remain present. Nowhere else do the band's talents flourish as much as they do on "In The Wind," an excellent representation of the record as a whole with its watery guitar, cymbal crashes and lush harmonies delivering impassioned verses.
≈ After their show in Nashville last week, I tried articulating just how deep and inexplicable my connection is to their soundscapes. All I managed was gibberish about wanting to scream and cry simultaneously, but Ben was touched. He's a soft-spoken man, impossibly old soul, poet, artist (he makes all the band's pretty pictures), lover, dreamer. Listen to Lonesome Dreams, then thank and embrace the universe for it.
≈ Fortaken: http://www.speakersincode.com
≈ See also review by Justin Wesley: http://www.nodepression.com/profiles/blogs/cd-review-lord-huron-lonesome-dreams
|Lord Huron — Lonesome Dreams (2012)|