Lake Street Dive
Lake Street Dive rocks! Now, people familiar with the band might be saying, “Hang on a second. LSD grooves, sure. Maybe even swings. But rocks?” It’s true! The foursome from Boston has been known for jazzy cabaret sounds in their twelve-year career. However, Side Pony, their new album on the Nonesuch label mixes in soul, disco, and rock influences to deliver the best overall pop record I have heard in a long time.
You never want bad things to happen to the people you love. Or do you? The album starts with “Godawful Things,” where the protagonist is thankful for the broken heart “that brought you right back to me.” In a brief 2:14, we learn both “How Good It Feels” to be alone, and to have someone. The title track is a light romp ode to a flirty hairstyle, and the flirting that comes with it. “Hell Yeah” is a rocking shout out to all of the clueless guys who don’t realize when a girl is flirting with them. Yes, they exist, and Lake Street Dive wants them to pay attention. Disco reigns supreme with the bouncy “Can’t Stop.” On its own, it is a fine song. However, the album transition is jarring, coming immediately after the mellow, jazzy, “Mistakes.” The album closes out with “Saving Up My Sinning,” a bluesy plea from a good girl who is ready to be bad with someone special.
You are going to hear a lot of people praise the lead singer, for a good reason. Rachael Price’s voice is the stuff that dreams are made of, no matter what Bogart said. He sultry smooth tones make you happy to hear bad news, and ecstatic to hear better news. I am hesitant to compare her to any other vocalists, because it might pigeonhole her. She deftly handles the multiple styles on the album, and makes it seem effortless. But the rest of the band is also as impressive. Mike Calabrese is the foundation of the rhythm section, with powerful drumming that morphs to fit the multiple styles present. Bridget Kearney’s upright bass playing stands out on several tracks, driving an infectious groove. And Mike “McDuck” Olson slays on both guitar and trumpet, making the band sound substantially larger than a four-piece. All four members share songwriting duties. Adding to their evolution from jazzy cabaret to eclectic fusion is new producer Dave Cobb, who recorded them in Nashville. In an effort to capture their essence, a majority of the tracks were initially recorded with all band members live in the studio, adding color to individual tracks later.
Overall, as I said, this is the best pop album I have heard in a long time. There is something here for just about everyone. Give Lake Street Dive a try. You will be hearing more from them.