Release Date: Apr 7, 2015
Record label: Iamsound
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Folk
On their follow-up, Strange Trails, Lord Huron settle into the Western themes and sense of open prairies that marked the band's debut, Lonesome Dreams. Frontman/songwriter Ben Schneider fully embraces the American West/Troubadour character, illustrated even in song titles like "Dead Man's Hand," "Meet Me in the Woods," and "The Yawning Grave. " The album's lyrics tell haunted stories of adventure and survival ("On the night you disappeared/Oh, if I had seen it clear/But a strange light in the sky was shining right into my eyes"), with nature imagery ("In a grave out here where the carrions cry"), and the occasional old-time turn of phrase ("Before I commence my ride/I'm asking Lily to be my bride").
In discussing Lord Huron, it’s impossible to ignore the tonal similarities of lead vocalist Ben Schneider’s voice to that of Phosphorescent’s Matthew Houck, Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold and My Morning Jacket’s Jim James. Each possesses a similar timbre that seems to exist almost solely within the genre, becoming a prerequisite of sorts for those looking to play this very specific form of washed out, sepia-toned Americana. While heavy reverb certainly plays a role in the sound, there’s a certain grain in the voice of each, an affectation that functions as a sort of evolutionary trait inherited by those fated to front folky indie rock bands.
As the saying goes, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Lord Huron clearly feel their musical direction is nowhere near fractured – and without further ado Strange Trails, their second album, picks up where the 2012 debut Lonesome Dreams left off. Yet now there is extra firepower to the project, for Lord Huron is now a band rather than Ben Schneider’s augmented solo project.
Strange Trails’ cover is styled as the kind of retro adventure novel now to be found sodden with nostalgic dust in charity shops and yellowing in a quiet cubby at your grandma’s house. From then on, it doesn’t take long to twig that this aesthetic has an influence on Lord Huron that runs far more than skin deep. Instead, this image casts the first stone into a pool of memories, shared and invented, creating ripples that spread throughout the entire record.
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If a pair of 2010 EPs approximated an untamed jungle and 2012's debut LP Lonesome Dreams a tree house amongst it, Lord Huron's sophomore full-length Strange Trails is Ben Schneider's completed bungalow, his little plot of land in lush wilds. And from the sounds of "Until the Night Turns" and "Meet Me in the Woods," he might've invited Bruce Springsteen to share it. The L.A.
When a band establishes a signature sound that seems to defy description it automatically sets them apart as far as one to watch. Lord Huron accomplished that feat their first time out, and while their new album retraces similar ground, it’s no less intriguing. The brainchild of frontman Ben Schneider, Strange Trails takes up where 2012‘s debut Lonesome Dreams left off, via another set of nocturnal, dream-like visions that span a sound drifting from the celebratory to the cerebral.