Lost Channels


Band: Great Lakes Swimmers
Album: Lost Channels
Best song: “Pulling on a Line” is great. “River’s Edge” is pretty good. “Palmistry” is excellent and “Concrete Heart” doesn’t completely suck.
Worst song: The “Stealing Tomorrow” lyrics are cringe-worthy, though it turns out a decent song.

The grand tradition of Canadian rock and roll music isn’t any at which to scoff. Broken Social Scene (and its subsequent solo- and side-projects), the Arcade Fire, The New Pornographers are all wildly enjoyable bands, no doubt.

Great Lakes Swimmers occupies a place just below those three bands. Unlike those bands, the intimacy inherent in Lost Channels is Bon Iver-esque. Indeed, the easy guitar work calls to mind Justin Vernon’s great work.

The record is of note if only because of the insane places and recording methods that the band utilized. Tony Dekker’s outfit went to the Thousand Lakes area of the New York/Ontario border to record Lost Channels and used the following as studio spaces:

  • An abandoned castle on the S. Lawrence Seaway
  • A grain silo
  • A nearby church

What’s notable is the ease by which Dekker’s melodies come throught the record. There’s a sense of calm in the album, likely because of the Thousand Lakes setting. The army of musicians on the record (album credits mention 12 different people as contributers) makes for a lush record, as well. “Pulling on a Line,” the album’s best song speaks to this; the many stringed instruments play complimentary melodies as Dekker’s hushed voice uses the fishing metaphor for struggle.

No doubt, Dekker’s lyrics often leave something to be desired. “Concrete Heart” is a lovely acoustic number that’s weighed down by some pretty cliche lyrics. But, his voice and arrangements more than makes up for such clunky wordplay, as the unfortunately-named “Stealing Tomorrow” shows. The lyric is tortured, but the sound is — if not unique — very interesting.

Lost Channels is hardly the greatest record ever put to tape, but it’s outstandingly pleasant, echoing the land from which it came. Beautiful and calm, it’s worth many a listen.

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