After a friend of my brother’s from his AmeriCorps days showed him a video of this band playing “I Want You Back” on a sidewalk in Boston, my brother turned around and passed it on to me, and thus began my obsession with Lake Street Dive.
LSD has been around for awhile (2003-ish?), and there’s something wonderful about discovering a contemporary band that hasn’t “blown up” yet, is excellent, and has a good amount of work in the bank already. I’ve been proselytizing for Lake Street Dive for about a year now, and I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like them. Part of that has to do with their pop/jazz combination – they’re literally perfect background music.
But another, larger part of that has to do with the fact that they’re just incredibly good. Rachael Price has a voice like a bourbon-infused angel, the music is fun-first while maintaining enough jazz elements to make it surprising at times, and most importantly, these guys have fun. It’s eminently clear that these four individuals just have a blast playing music, and that’s a huge plus in my book.
Here are some of my favorite Lake Street Dive videos. Their albums – In This Episode…, Promises, Promises, Lake Street Dive, Fun Machine, and the upcoming Bad Self Portraits are well worth your time. The upcoming one – out in February – is going to be the first album I’ve physically bought in about a decade, and I’m looking forward to it the way I look forward to a new book in a beloved series.
A collection of awesome Lake Street Dive videos
If you’ve heard of them at all, it’s probably from this video:
Right away, you get a sense of irreverent, whimsical enjoyment with the various takes of the four of them posing. And when the music starts, Price’s voice is on full display. It’s amazing how lush the song sounds when you think about how sparse it actually is – voice, drums, trumpet, bass. No guitar, no piano – nothing to give it a noise foundation. But the reconstitution of a beloved pop song, the jazz sensibilities, the fact that it’s on a sidewalk, and Price’s vocal stylings all combine to make this an amazing, jaw-dropping video.
Here’s one to get a sense of how amazing they’d be to see live. The energy is just palpable. Mike Calabrese’s drumming leads the way, really driving the song. Mike “McDuck” Olson really shows off his trumpet chops as well, as his solo really stands out and compliments Price’s voice here.
Breaking away from their admittedly spectacular covers of pop songs, here’s an original. Bass player Bridget Kearney wrote this one, from what I can tell, and it’s extremely solid. The buildup and slight dive before the chorus is just awe-inspiring. Calabrese gets a verse (while still drumming, ‘natch) and his harmony with Price is really fun to listen to. Olson’s switch from trumpet to guitar (he seems to be doing this more often, from what I can tell) gives the song a bluesy, upscale dive bar-type feeling.
Here’s LSD covering Fleetwood Mac’s “Second Hand News” – made all the more awesome for the impromptu nature of the recording. It’s obvious a rough cut – Calabrese plays percussion on a chair, they’re not mic’ed, so you’re hearing just what the camera picks up, so the levels are off, they have some hilarious synchronized moves they do during the song that they’ve obviously only practiced a couple times, Price starts laughing halfway through a verse…etc. I know it sounds like I’m being negative, but these are all positive. It comes off as incredibly heartwarming and endearing. The fact that they can do something like this off-the-cuff is just flippin’ amazing.
Every Halloween they dress up as 2 girl, 2 guy bands. (Previous video – Fleetwood Mac). This year, they did the Starland Vocal Band. Yep. Let me just point out a few things about this video:
– Maybe it’s just the lighting, but at 0:21, when she turns sideways, Bridget Kearney looks like the goddamn Platonic ideal of beauty.
– The look Price gives Calabrese at 0:30 when he’s starting his verse is incredibly adorable.
– 1:47 WHAT A FIDDLE OH MY GOD THAT’S AMAZING, ALWAYS DO THAT
– The harmonies at 2:00 are just. wonderful. Especially Price’s harmony on the line “come around.”
– OK, this is wierdly specific, I know, but since this is the most low-impact blog ever and basically only my 10 friends read it, I’m going for it. 2:56, I cannot shake the notion that Bridget Kearney’s expression + what she does with her hand, just that little subtle gesture, is eerily reminiscent of my friend Carolina. Someone back me up here. It’s not so much the physical similarity (although I think they do look something alike) as it is her expression and what she’s emoting.
Couple more. Here’s one from Pickathon 2012. This one’s an original. The thing I like about this is just the pure physicality of Price. She sings with movement. Check out 3:32; that’s just so cool. Really, really makes me want to see them live.
I can’t figure out how to embed this, so whatever, just click the link. This one’s hard to find, but amazing in a down-tempo, melancholy way. The lyrics really get me on this one.
Last but not least, here’s a teaser from Lake Street Dive’s upcoming album. Yep. Yep yep yep. Rachael Price has pipes.