The North Lakes: Grand Prix
If you have been waiting for ‘60s-style garage rock to get a refresher, your wait has ended with the release of Grand Prix by The North Lakes. There have been changes since their debut album, Cobra, like that the once six-piece band is now a five-piece. The other notable change is that The North Lakes are not denying rock anymore. Cobra had more folk and blues elements, but Grand Prix drops Cobra’s softness and replaced it with rock. The result from the newly five-piece band is a raw, swagger-filled album that was recorded in a church in Prince Edward Island, Canada. Pulsing drums, a fluttery organ, distorted guitars, and attitude-filled vocals combine to create a brief eight-song punchy rock ‘n’ roll album.
The band reveals that they have been listening to a lot of Elvis Costello, Supergrass, and Television, and the proof is in the record. The use of the organ points heavily toward Costello and the bravado heard in the sound hints at Supergrass. There are also style similarities to The Pixies. Lead singer and guitarist Nathan Gill’s vocals are reminiscent of the late Michael Hutchence of INXS, especially when he nearly purrs “Hello little vixen” in “Vixen.” The band has a swagger that comes through the music; “Crumbling Dice” drips with attitude when Gill sings “I don’t need no fucks telling me how to listen to a record” and distorted guitar riffs demand attention.
In an interview with Broken Speaker, Gill said that personal experiences influenced this album. As the members are all current students or alumni of University of PEI, we can guess that the disdain for record-listening instructions, reading an expert’s books, and proper grammar (“I don’t need no fucks” is a double negative!) in “Crumbling Dice” is a response to university classes. The lyrics on the album vary from illustrative (“Her chestnut hair is crawling like vines in the Sherwood Forest” in “Hands-Off Director”) to cryptic (“like a cheek cut I haven’t found yet, what the Dead Seas left untold” in “Grab Me by the Lapel,”) to just kind of odd yet no doubt based on personal experience (“I have friends who can’t find the clutch/I don’t own a digital watch” in “The Holy Water.”) Some of the lyrics are difficult to make out due to distortion or enunciation (try as I might, the best I can make of the first line of “Baptism in Burgundy” is “when I read your cursive, I’m taken by your rick lack of grand prix,”) but it all sounds so good that you will not feel the need to dwell on it. With so much swagger in the music, the distortion in the vocals, and the guitar riffs commanding attention, the lyrics don’t seem questionable.
The first single from the album, “Grab Me by the Lapel,” has definite 1960s influence. The chorus is catchy, the quick organ and punchy drums bring to mind 1960s pop, and the guitar melody suggests surf music. It has definite earworm potential and will likely get stuck in your head. You can find its MP3 below. A close second in catchiness is “Baptism in Burgundy,” which has been stuck in my head since I first listened to the album. The pounding drums and cymbals are complemented by a simple guitar melody and fast-paced lyrics. With these peppy, infectious tracks and the band’s bravado, The North Lakes will likely prove to be one to watch.
MP3: The North Lakes “Grab Me by the Lapel”
The North Lakes: Grand Prix