Beards, Blazers & Glasses: The Besnard Lakes
The razor-sharp minds at Idolator , accurately summed up the main reason why I hadn't heard The Besnard Lakes before their album The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse dropped last with month, Stylus Recommends tag in tow. Namely because at a glance, their name reads like "The Barenaked Ladies," and in the right light, if you squint just properly, it looks like the album is called The Besnard Ladies Are Dark Whores. Which might be fine in Canada, but here in the states, we like our whores optimistic and upbeat. (And on Myspace)
But in the past month or so, The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horses has evolved for me into a slow-burning classic. It's nothing remarkable on first listen, just mellow, pleasant and slightly cold-sounding music. But each listen found the album worming its way into the grooves of my head (no John Travolta), its brooding stoned psychedelic guitars and flickering campfire harmonies sounding like the unholy combination of My Morning Jacket and Brightblack Morning Light (with maybe a little Low thrown into the mix). Not to mention, something that the Pitchfork review wisely pointed out: "for all its epic intimations and interstellar overdriving, the album still clocks in at a lean 45 minutes."
Live at The Echo on Wednesday night, The Montreal-based five-piece, delivered to the fullest, the greatness hinted at on wax. Pastoral songs that meandered at a country-slow gait on the full-length were transformed into a thunderous rain of sludgy guitars and booming cavernous drum hits. Minus the brass horns and strings that complement their classic sound, the band had me digging deeper for comparisons, seeming trippy enough to be a Pink Floyd of sorts for this ADD generation. Don't get me wrong, there will never will be another Floyd. But The Besnard Lakes might be My Morning Jacket's closest rival, as heirs to the throne, capable of pairing blistering guitar assaults, with gorgeous harmonies and haunting Floyd-ian anthems.
But Will They Play A Cover Of "One Week"
Emerging surrounded by gray clouds of 70s arena rock smoke, the band took the stage singer/ keyboardist/guitarist, Jace Lasek up front, a huge frizzy mop of hair atop his head, the tall and lanky frontman vaguely resembling a young Weird Al Yankovich. To his left, his wife, Olga Goreas, the group's bassist and other main singer, unleashed a rumbling bass line that stunned the room. She also stunned the room by being the cutest woman named Olga in the history of Olga's. Somewhere, Olga Korbut is pissed.
Bathed in reverb, the band shook the venue with "Devastation," the band seeming creepier and weirder in person, Lasek crooning his ghostly drugged falsetto looking like Weird Al playing Jim James after he'd made a pact with the devil. The rest of the band playing in perfect synchronicity, letting off epic rattling tuneful sonic booms. But it was really their rendition of "For Agent 13" that displayed their talents, with Goreas creeping into the spotlight with her beautiful, vaguely sinister voice.
But just after pounding through the first four songs of the album, the Echo rudely cut the band off mid-set, as two acts more needed to come on. The crowd erupted in boos, one of the few times I've seen that happen for an opening act. Rest assured, I will be catching this band the next time they return to Los Angeles. The Besnard Lakes are the real deal. Lasek owns Montreal's Breakneck Studios, where he helped record Spencer Krug's brilliant Sunset Rundown album last year. And in my mind, this is the best album to come out of Montreal since (take that best band of all-time in the history of mankind and the earth.) They might think they're dark horses, but trust me, these guys' and ladies' talent reserve isn't bare naked.
Also See You Set The Scene and The Little Radio Blog's Reviews of the Show
The Besnard Lakes On Myspace
Buy The Album
MP3: The Besnard Lakes-"And You Lied To Me"
Bonus: From Their First (and also very good) Album, Volume I
MP3: The Besnard Lakes-"For Spy Turned Musician"
Get More MP3s and Read More About the Band @:
Gorilla Vs. Bear
So Much Silence