Release Date: Oct 9, 2012
Record label: Iamsound
Ostensibly the nom de plume of Michigan-born Ben Schneider, Lord Huron is also, like Blondie, a group: and a pretty darn fantastic group to boot. Following a brace of EPs, Lord Huron have tapped into the mythical psyche of an imaginary Western plainsman and crossed that with gamelan rhythms and chord sequences that seem to have been field-recorded in the Arabian Desert night. Schneider and his four hombres are all great harmony singers, but what’s more remarkable is the intricacy of their combined musical and production skill.
"Oh, there's a river that winds on forever/I'm gonna see where it leads," begins Lord Huron's debut LP, campfire strumming and robust vocal harmonies ghosted by tuneful howls somewhere between cowboy yodels and coyote bays. Ben Schneider's soaring folk-rock project conjures a life unfettered and outside of time – roads and rivers wind, a man wanders beneath trees ("She Lit a Fire") or imagines sitting by a lake "for a thousand years" ("In the Wind"). The palette is broad, with layered guitars, harmonica and saloon piano tinged with gamelan-style percussion ("Brother") and Asian-flavored melodies ("Setting Sun"), all serving an impressionist Wild West cosmology that includes Schneider's visual art and film work.
A plethora of slow-expanding gongs, brash cymbal shimmers and other such dramatic drippings depend like sheeny webs from the sharp and assured songwriting on Lord Huron’s Lonesome Dreams; singer-songwriter Ben Schneider has obviously been at this quite a while, building musical muscle and polishing his sound with gusto. Some of these gauzy, reverb-tastic liltings you’ve heard first from bands like My Morning Jacket and Fleet Foxes, but on certain songs, most notably the title track and “The Man Who Lives Forever,” Schneider enters a less-referential arena and carves out more compelling territory. His voice slides like a shadow, and the shift in tone shocks; a modern pop song supplants the weathered daguerreotype vibe, pushed along by the nearly unreal lushness the band revels in.
Afolk-rock Thoreau, Michigan's Ben Schneider has a near mystical vision of America's wilderness, a place of peaks and prairies, "sacred dunes" and rivers that "wind on for ever". The production of his debut is appropriately epic, its echoing acoustic guitars and yearning, Fleet Foxy vocals mixed with cowboy cattle calls and Pawnee chants. Communion with nature and the quest for the ideal woman are joined on She Lit a Fire and Ends of the Earth, there are playful nods to wild west "dime novels", while gamelan bells and sitars appear unexpectedly in the sonic torrent.
Ben Schneider of Lord Huron whispers, “There is a river that winds on forever, I’m gonna see where it leads,” the first lyrics on his debut LP Lonesome Dreams. It is a pretty and precious aside, a passing bit of commentary recast as a genre thesis statement. The album is a record of wanderlust in form and function. This search, like the record in question, channels both the aspiration and insouciance of chasing the infinite.
Following two low-profile EPs, Lonesome Dreams is the debut from Michigan-born/Los Angeles-based sound sculptor Ben Schneider and his band Lord Huron. The wide-open pastoral feel of the album seems designed to calm the ongoing argument happening with Schneider's songwriting sensibilities, which seem conflicted between jubilant indie pop wanderlust and stoic traditionally structured Americana. The album opens with "Ends of the Earth," a jaunty and triumphant song filled with imagery of rivers, mountains, and arid desertscapes.
Ben Schneider's a man out of time, all rust-colored and sepia-toned, prone to dressing like an extra from Cold Mountain. The Lord Huron frontman sings of river crossings, trudging through forests, shouting out his love from the mountaintops, all these big, romantic, pre-cell-phone notion of fidelity, honor, the lay of the land. After a couple of well-received EPs-- including 2010's fine Mighty-- the Michigan-to-L.A.
Lord Huron’s Ben Schneider hails from Michigan and lives in Los Angeles, but he seems to have been everywhere. His impressionistic, world-bent Americana plays out like a foggy map of the earth, cluttered with pins and photos to mark the various places that inform it. There are pictures of festival parades in China (“I Will Be Back One Day”, “The Man Who Lives Forever”), a portrait of Jim James near Kentucky, shots of Scandinavian winters up north, a drawing of the Lion King’s ‘Pride Rock’ somewhere in Kenya, pictures of Jamaica’s steel drums clinging to their island shapes or Josh Ritter poking out of Iowa, etc.
A rootsy, all-American affair offering an ingenuous, prairie-wide signature. David Sheppard 2013 Michigan’s Ben Schneider, the driving force behind Lord Huron, is a man with a grand, multi-media vision and a penchant for the wide open spaces of the mythic American West. This debut long-player arrives with additional short films and ‘imagined novels’ by mysterious fictional wordsmith George Ranger Johnson, designed, according to Schneider, to create “a world with its own mythology”.
Bat for Lashes Passions run high, and so do musical ambitions, in the songs of Natasha Khan, the English songwriter who records as Bat for Lashes. “Never whisper you a great love story/Only scream and cry and moan,” she sings on her third album, “The Haunted Man” (Capitol). With the unabashed drama of songwriters like Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel or Björk, she writes about desires and furies so great that all nature bends to them, and she often surrounds her voice with large and changeable forces.
After two celebrated EPs in 2010 and silence ever since, Los Angeles' Lord Huron based its sepia-toned debut LP, Lonesome Dreams, on a fictional book of the same name by nonexistent author George Ranger Johnson. Ben Schneider opens himself up to collaboration, even recording with a band, but his songwriting still merits a singular interface with the listener. Wielding African drums, acoustic guitar, and choral arrangements for a church choir, Schneider reins in and polishes his sound just enough, yet knows the precise moment to let it return to wandering.
You either appreciate the loose ideas of Americana, or you don’t. You either flaunt Neil Young as a demigod, or brand him a grumpy bastard. You either treasure your Fleet Foxes CDs, or let them fester on your coffee table. These are the primordial facts of life, but why are we talking about them? Lord Huron, the latest project from Ben Schneider, make out-and-out, unblushing, wistful Americana.