Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Splitsville In Hopelesstown, Lake Michigan

Here is the first of two split releases we are looking at today. Fred mentioned not too long ago about a Queensland label called Ruined Smile - his childhood memories are back here. Reaching across the globe to give voice to unheralded acts, one of their first releases is this split cassette between English pastoral explorer Lake Michigan and his Australian counterpart Hopelesstown (split released with Canberra-based label Lacklustre).

Now this comes at a weird coincidental cross roads for me, as yesterday I was looking for an album to put on the record player while my girlfriend did her college work. Flicking through I came across Out Of The Shadow, the 2003 debut record from Rogue Wave. I don't remember ever buying it, let alone playing it. We played it - it suited the gentle 'I'm doing work' vibe we were looking for. Then I looked up what they had been up to since, and saw they had written that 'Lake Michigan' song that I had heard on a hell of a lot of TV commercials a few years ago...

Then I saw this in the inbox. It's not the same - it's much better. Each artist shares three tracks. Lake Michigan is not like Rogue Wave. These three meditations reverberate due to their witching hour permutations - floating out of focus, somewhere between warmth and freezing cold, condensation setting on windows, the heat emanating from a lightly strummed guitar and the breath hovering in front of the lips. Reclaiming life, whether it be through mumblecore mantras ("Every fight, and fuck, and falling over...is ours") or through static-ridden proclamations from Dr Frasier Crane, is the order of the day. A melancholic yet positive experience.

Hopelesstown feels like a pea from the same pod - maybe even rubbing spherical shoulders. The reverb is heavily on display, but the songs play with recorded convention - 'Smitten' is fuzzed and roughed up, a scratchy and sedate declaration of unrequited love. 'Other' opens up a little more, although the autumnal cryogenic permutations continue to permeate. Closer 'Spring 2' sits somewhere between the two, and glows lazily, a sunrise warding off the frost.

Lake Michigan/Hopelesstown might fuel many a frigid morning here in the Northern Hemisphere, but is sure to warm the cockles in the drenching summer heat too. Nice work. Buy it here (there's only 4 left).

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