Great Lake Swimmers.

I’ve spent a lot of time recently, trolling the year-end top-ten lists and looking for nuggets I may have missed over the last year. All of the hipster lists are singing the praises of the likes of Bon Iver, the Fleet Foxes, and Okkervil River. And by all means, both deserve every bit of attention they’ve gotten. After listening to both though, I found myself searching for a song half-remembered from my second-favorite college radio station, Emerson College’s WERS. This led to my most rewarding discovery of 2008; one that has nothing to do with anything released in 2008.

Great Lake Swimmers — there’s something in a name, isn’t there. If I were to swim to the middle of an enormous lake, I’m certain this is the soundtrack that would play in my mind as I took my last breath and slowly sank beneath the surface. I’m hard pressed to come up with another description for this incredibly quite and emotional music. I heard one of thier singles nearly every day over the past year and it stuck somewhere in the back of mind. I couldn’t be happier that something in my year-end music listening  jogged them back to the surface of my consciousness.

I’ve listened a bit lately to Neil Young‘s recently released Sugar Mountain Live at Canterbury House 1968. I swear that Neil would have been comfortable in these songs 30 years ago when that show was recorded. They have a Neil Young-ish fragile falsetto vocal and a similar acoustic vibe to those early solo recordings. These guys are also the sound that you would get if you crossed the murky vocals of Murmur-era R.E.M. with their later, Out of Time-era mandolin jangles. This is music so under-stated that it easily fades to the background, while at the same time, leaving in indelible impression. It’s mood music for a somber, rainy afternoon.

So that’s my contribution to the year-end buzz. Go check out the Great Lake Swimmers, a group that didn’t even release an album in 2008. It will be worth your time. And who knows, with an album planned for release in 2009 Great Lake Swimmers - ONGIARAmaybe come December they’ll make this year’s top-ten.

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~ by spinthis45 on January 8, 2009.

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