Great Lakes – Contenders

With their seventh album, Contenders, US outfit Great Lakes create a marriage between infectious sound and evocative word which simply captivates. Maybe no surprise for fans of the Ben Crum created and led project but the new offering has certain fertility in its body and temptation which, more than any of their releases before, had us beguiled.

The new Great Lakes album crafts a fusion of Americana and psychedelic rock with further folk rock essences in its vibrant collection of songs. It is a release which also sees Stone Ridge, NY based Crum joined by long-time collaborators Kevin Shea (drums) and Suzanne Nienaber (vocals) as well as a host of guests, a dexterous crew of musicians creating a just as inventive and agile landscape of sound across the release.

Eclipse This sets the release off, the song featuring Louis Schefano on drums and immediately drawing ears with its considered rhythmic stroll through, amidst a sonic haze, a psych rock coated climate of fuzzy guitar. It is an instinctively atmospheric and evocative proposition which the vocals and thoughts of Crum potently escalate.

Though a song in its own right, the track also feels like the introduction and lead into the heart of the album, the following Way Beyond the Blue emerging from that intrigue soaked coaxing with its own emotively defined but much livelier and brighter reflection. Again guitars weave a provocative proposal which the combined tones of Crum and Nienaber light up, the song a brief but compelling encounter with a presence and rich persuasion similarly offered by its successor, Easy When You Know How. It too has radiance to its breath but as the opener walks the shadows and more intense corners of its psych rock bred, indie rock cultured adventure. Once more that inherent infectiousness of the Great Lakes sound and song-writing manipulates ears and hips, bringing a richer spotlight on the lyrical rumination.

As Baby’s Breath took feet on a lively Americana toned saunter and I’m Not Listening manipulated the same with its similarly hued and rhythmically eventful , it is fair to say that Contenders took a tighter grip on our attention, the second of the two a particular favourite within the release.

Another was found with Born Frees and its fifties rock ‘n’ roll steeped stroll and sixties pop virulence, the piano keys of Petter Folkedal and vocals enticement of Ray Rizzo adding to its warm enticement, the latter also gracing next up Last Night’s Smoke as it shared its indie rock pop infection with wiry guitar enterprise and fuzzy warmth around anxiety tinged vocal contemplation. Both songs easily held ears firm before Wave Fighter caressed the senses with its elegant surf kissed ballad led by the vocal captivation of Nienaber, her radiant tones wrapped in the synth hug of David Gould who guests on a handful of tracks within the release.

 The final pair of Broken Even and Your Eyes are Xs ensured the album left as potently as it began, the first an eagerly striding incitement of ears and imagination within a varied and flavoursome mix of styles with the second exploring another realm of atmospheric intimation and shadows. From that fascinating if restless beginning an equally evocative croon emerges within a caliginous tunnel of sound, a fuzz lit psych rock spun exploration taking our favourite song choice at the last minute.

Though it held attention and enjoyment with ease straightaway it has been subsequent plays which saw Contenders really reel us in and urge us to say to you, it really should be explored.

Contenders is out now via HHBTM Records, available @ and

Pete RingMaster 01/03/2022

Copyright RingMaster Review

Categories: Music

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: