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Great Lake Swimmers/Akron Family/The Lady Racers


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Rock Crew Productions and CFRC 101.9 present Great Lake Swimmers and Akron/Family with special guests The Lady Racers, this Thursday (Aug 25) at Elixir Nightclub.

Tickets are $8 advance at Zap Records, Brian's Record Option, Chumleighs, Renaissance Music, Elixir and online at www.rockcrew.ca

GLS's last Kingston show (June 10 - Grad Club) sold out ... so get your tickets today!

www.greatlakeswimmers.com

www.akronfamily.com

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From http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/record-reviews/a/akron-family/akron-family.shtml

As long as people believe poverty and authenticity go hand-in-hand, lo-fi will never go out of style. Demand for the holey cardigan stylings of artists like Phil Elvrum, Lou Barlow, and Emperor X seems to peak every couple years, and after last year's freak(folk)-out, you might expect a brief recession, followed by the reemergence of a hermetic lo-fi denizen like Elvrum with his strangest sonic odyssey yet. But Akron/Family jump the gun with their new self-titled debut LP, drawing on lo-fi's aesthetic tenets while broadening its instrumental scope.

Lo-fi, yes, but Akron/Family are working with way more than a four-track here: Loads of swampy found-sound texturing belies the complexity of their arrangements. Close-mic'ing and muffled vocals are standard fare, but don't disregard the triple-tracked guitars, string sections, and frequent choral accompaniment. The album varies tonally without swinging wildly, and the instrumentation-- while often dense and effects-laden-- is consistent at its core. Ringleaders include guitar, banjo, bass, and vocals (lots of it). This makes for an easy listen; even at 14 tracks and a shade over an hour long, the album seldom drags. But it's just as easy to extrapolate singularly catchy tracks as it is to digest the album in its totality. Opener "Before and Again" condenses the band's selling points into a multifarious folk farrago, replete with bucolic acoustic plucks, string swells, chirruping synths, and ambient sounds.

Despite the boundlessness of their instrumentation, Akron/Family maintain remarkable warmth (o, that stock descriptor of lo-fi ingenuity!), playing at restrained volumes that invite close listening. Occasionally they bust out with some noize, like the mushrooming electric gee-tar solo on "Suchness", but any departure from the band's typical whisper feels like a wail. Half of the album's sonic density comes from white noise, but unlike, say, The Glow, pt. II, it's used for layering, never as a stopgap between songs.

Eight-minute plodder "Italy" issues a steady stream of waking yawns as it squirms to life. The song's lethargic pace may lead some to hit the snooze button, but wait it out: When the voice declares, "I'm ready," it's no joke. Guitars and drums erupt out of their lassitude and hack away at the beat until it no longer exists, while a trumpet brings some melodic semblance to it all.

Try as the band might to weirdify the album, the melodies are irrepressible. Certain songs reveal a jones for back porch folk. "I'll Be on the Water" is the tread back to shore after a long wet day, happily sunburned. At first uncomfortably pensive, the song grows more comfortable in its bittersweet, lovelorn pose, blossoming from a scratchy murmur into a bonfire jamboree. "Afford" is similarly pastoral: notice the bird chirps amid nylon strings spiraling listlessly in the humid mix.

Every family needs a father, and Akron have Angels of Light frontman Michael Gira, whose production draws on the restless, emotive aspects of the band's sound and embraces their sprawl. Frustrating for their imperfections, charming for their listlessness, and irresistible for their melodies, Akron/Family are likable for all the wrong reasons. The album is easy to criticize, yet Akron/Family couldn't/shouldn't have done anything differently. When a band keep you as close and captive as Akron/Family, dwelling on the shortcomings would be depriving yourself of a compelling, emotionally complex experience.

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And, from http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/record-reviews/g/great-lake-swimmers/great-lake-swimmers.shtml

Toronto's Great Lake Swimmers are named, of course, for the Great Lakes, which, I learned in fourth grade, separate Midwestern America from southern Canada. Appropriately, on their self-titled debut (which was released in Canada in 2003), the band sound like they have one foot in both countries: they-- or rather, on this record, head Swimmer Tony Dekker-- play a brand of ambient folk that's strikingly similar to that of Floridian Iron & Wine, but they add enough local color to make it sound more specifically local. Dekker even fashions the refrain of "I Will Never See the Sun" from points on a map-- "I will never see the sun/ Spadina, St. George, Bay, and Yonge."

That's one of only a few songs on the album featuring a full band; most focus squarely on Dekker's closely miked voice and guitar. Great Lake Swimmers proudly-- occasionally too proudly-- bears the marks of its creation. It was recorded in an abandoned silo in rural Ontario, so the structure adds an echoey cry to Dekker's vocals (which sound more like Jim James than Sam Beam) and the setting infuses the songs with a constant feedback of insect noise. The few other instruments are more suggestions than sounds: A fluid bass flows beneath the songs like an underground spring, an organ tiptoes through a few tracks as if trying not to wake the sleeping.

This naturalistic aesthetic suits Dekker's sadsack songs, which are stark and atmospheric, yet lyrically generous. To gauge the album's moodiness, consider this line from "The Man With No Skin": "The world let me down...in a big way." Even as his voice trails wistfully off on that last phrase, Dekker's not whining or even complaining: disappointment is a mere fact of life for him, not a personal injustice. And while he does admit on "Moving, Shaking" that "It's hard to see all the little things when the big things get in the way," he is never too confessional that he can't see the world around him, like the "an ant crawling across a broken tile."

Dekker can be a startlingly literal songwriter at times. On "The Man With No Skin," he describes that epidermal lack in such detail that it barely qualifies as allegorical: "Nobody wants to see a beating heart or lung or a brain." And as the album progresses, the Swimmers portion of band name becomes a central theme, as the final two tracks, "Three Days at Sea (Three Lost Years)" and "Great Lake Swimmers", describe the dangers of water in language that makes drowning seem as much a blessing as a doom. It's a fitting metaphor for life's breakers and gales, but Dekker's voice sounds haggard and tired as he hits the high notes at the end of each line. That fatigue makes both the song and the album sound all the more mortally dire, especially when Dekker sings, "It's such a long swim."

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It's tonight! Doors at 9 PM, music at 9:45.

Here's some live reviews to further tantalize:

From http://umbrellamusic.com/utu.php?id=81

Great Lake Swimmers, 9 p.m., El Mocambo (downstairs)

They had the cover story in this week’s edition of local alternative paper eye, so the room was packed. But they’ve developed enough of a following that it might’ve been packed anyway. All of the guys onstage look like they might have been recently released from some sort of institution, which is to say painfully shy, a little off-kilter and completely internal. None more so than frontman Tony Dekker, whose energy is akin to that of Tony Perkins/David Byrne/Charlie Salmon, and who physically is wearing Sarah Harmer’s face on Don Kerr’s body. The Swimmers play thoughtful, quietly beautiful and entirely original music about heartbreak and transcendence. At one point, in “See The Sun,†Dekker charmingly rhymes off subway stops along the Bloor line in Toronto, in their actual order. Their rear-projected films of flowers, clouds and insects added to the vibe as well. Captivating, mesmerizing stuff. 9/10

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From http://www.metroland.net/back_issues/vol28_no28/live.html

It’s about 20 minutes to 2 AM. On a Monday. Late. But it doesn’t feel that way, not after what just went down inside the club. The music fans the ones who came to get their heads transformed; the ones who, with patience, got what they were looking for are beginning to file out of the old White Tower, the last notes of Akron/Family’s fine set having dissipated only moments ago. Try finding a complaint around here right now. It just won’t happen.

On the self-titled record by the peculiarly named Brooklyn quartet, the spirits of Nick Drake and Syd Barrett inhabit moderners like Idaho and the Flaming Lips. Medicine-mouthed folk tunes are interrupted by white noise and synthesizer bleats; really well-miked wind chimes trample over spacey sound effects and slo-mo jams. It’s among the more promising recordings released this year, but would their live set be worth waiting for through a multiband endurance test on a Monday night?

The run-up made that a tough call. The noodlescapes of Matt Valentine, Erika Elder and Samara Lubelski meandered on and on under a din of air-conditioner noise and audience chatter. Lincoln Money Shot (now with bass clarinet!) juxtaposed the quiet with brief, brain-rattling sets before and after the trio. Sir Richard Bishop followed with another lengthy set, hammering away at his nylon-string guitar like a man unhinged. He swayed wildly, looking like a rabid Bob Ross, digging into his tunes with a sinister style that Akron/Family bassist Ryan Vanderhoof would later call “face-melting.â€

And then, finally, the band of the hour. The group revisited only a couple tunes (including “I’ll Be on the Water,†on which guitarist Miles Seaton played a television set) from the record. Instead, they relished in loop like repetitious, lengthy jams (for lack of a better word), bursts of white noise, and lush, barbershop-quartet-like vocal arrangements that were all but nonexistent on record.

An ominous, finger-picked electric guitar pattern; hard, Hendrix-like jamming; pot-fried vocals about some kind of awakening; beautiful four-part harmonies that were face-melting in their own right. That was just the first song. It was like listening to all four sides of the Beatles’ White Album at once. Multifaceted song structures transformed with a natural grace where most acts might have relied on pastiche. The three guitarists (Vanderhoof, Seaton, and Seth Olinsky) rocked back and forth on volume pedals all night, moving their parts in and out of the mix like the prey in a game of Whack-a-Mole, while percussionist Dana Janssen provided a strong guide marker.

They saved the best for (almost) last 1:18 AM by my watch. “You Found What You’re Looking For†was rooted in a quiet, descending guitar pattern, not far removed from Ten Years After’s “I’d Love to Change the World,†then blossomed into a thick wall of harmonious vocals and guitars, like a truck full of pianos landing on a church choir. Consider my face melted.

Nick Carpenter of Lincoln Money Shot deserves special mention for putting the whole show together. It’s a great thing when a guy can hear a record he likes, invite the band to play in his town, and actually make it happen with visible success, no less.

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