Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Fables of the Great Lakes Reconstruction Society

Posted By on Wed, Sep 13, 2006 at 4:58 PM

Ace Metro Times photographer, Motor City Rides/Cribs coordinator, and official Ann Arbor correspondent for the Music Blahg Doug Coombe writes to tell us that Great Lakes Myth Society has entered Big Sky studio to commence work on their new album. The new record will also be their first for Quack!, Al McWilliams’ fine operation out there in Ann Arbor that also counts polite, necktie-wearing pop kids Tally Hall among its charges. Coombe also tells us that GLMS is going for more a of a rock vibe this time around, but if I’m the only one that imagines that as sounding something like IRS-era R.E.M., I’ll eat my hat.

I really do think Great Lakes’ rock side might sound something like those old R.E.M. records. But the comparison’s probably fresh because of this new set on Capitol, And I feel fine...The best of the IRS years 1982-1987. From the opening notes of “Begin the Begin” to “Finest Worksong,” to the Reckoning stuff, it’s creepy how fresh all of this sounds. What’s more, it’s creepy how, in my brain, it doesn’t relate at all to the last decade of R.E.M., and certainly not to that aloof, somewhat foppish Michael Stipe that appears now and again on Sundance Channel to try on linen shirts and hang his head about human rights. I don’t have a problem with that Michael Stipe, or his championing of linen shirts and human rights. It’s just that, in my brain, I like the frizzy-haired guy on the cover of this retrospective better, the one who looks and sounds like the guy at your college who favored a straw porkpie and always brought red wine with no label to the keg party.

IRS-era R.E.M. had an effortless sense of woodshedding creativity, genre interpretation, and knowledge of musical history that bands today can only hope to copy. They sounded southern, English, punk, Brill Building, obscure, and country all at once, and that’s what makes the feelings this set bring out much more than generic nostalgia. The proof is in listening, and I still don't like the Arcade Fire.

JTL

Related MT coverage:

"Pop Goes the World," by Johnny Loftus

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