We’re living in an age where an artist can conceivably wake up, write a song, record that song on a personal computer, and make the hours-old rendering available to listeners in any Internet-equipped nook of the planet by day’s end. Assuming recording quality isn’t absolutely paramount, listeners can gain exponentially more exposure to countless bands at an incredible rate. While “self-recorded” doesn’t tote even close to the same unsavory stigma it once did, even the most gussied up homespun effort that’s issued in quick fashion will always pale in comparison to a well-thought-out record that’s been aged to excellence and left to marinate in the juices of meticulous consideration.
The self-titled debut album from Greatest Lakes falls indisputably into the second camp. The Milwaukee-by-way-of-Kenosha folk and indie rock hybrid got its start as a trio in 2010, and finally made its way into Rockford, Illinois-based Midwest Sound studio last year to record drums. Other instruments were then laid down in a variety of rooms between Milwaukee and Chicago. From there, it went to Brooklyn to be mastered by Nick Stumpf. Once Greatest Lakes was recorded, the trio of drummer/singer Jon Nichols, guitarist Brian Steinseifer, and bass player Mike Hawes took on three new members, as the introduction of new drummer Josiah Werning allowed Nichols to add auxiliary percussion depth and focus more on vocals; second guitarist Kevin Kaufman came on; and Melissa Steinseifer (who is featured on Greatest Lakes) contributed backing vocals.
Though the construction was slow, the polished and grandiose 12-song effort more than makes up for the pace preceding its arrival. Dreamy reverberated three- and four-part harmonies thrust hollow and delicate instrumentation to the next level. A Band Of Horses comparison would be apt, but only when excluding the album’s ever present atmospheric underbelly and the abundance of driving rhythmic accessories, such as anthemic stomps and hand claps (best displayed in “Best Days” and “The Harvest”). Almost five years after the framework of some of these songs was first taking shape, Greatest Lakes has taken its time to unveil its delayed debut, and, in turn, has given Milwaukee one of its most satisfying front-to-back albums of the year. Before its long-awaited release later this week, listen to Greatest Lakes, only at Milwaukee Record.
Greatest Lakes will release its debut on Bandcamp Tuesday, September 23 and will play a release show Friday, October 3 at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn. Paper Holland and Myles Coyne will play in support.