These days beats are generated on computers, voices are manipulated out of recognition and records end up sounding somewhat mundane. So I cannot tell you how refreshing it was to walk into Bush Hall in Shepherds Bush on a warm Thursday evening in May to hear Lake Street Dive perform.
Lake Street Dive, LSD if you will, are a four piece jazz-soul-pop band from the east coast of America. Self-described as ‘Motown and Beatles having a party’, they have been hailed as ‘ones to watch’ by Rolling Stone Magazine. The sophistication of the band’s musical style was very much mirrored by the venue. Bush Hall is a very elegant, intimate location on the Uxbridge Road, just a short walk from Shepherds Bush Market. Used in television and film production, it provided the perfect setting to showcase this new exciting new American band to a London audience.
LSD started life as an experimental jazz quartet while its members were at college. But they appeared to catch the pop bug somewhere along the way and now sound like an optimistic Amy Winehouse touched with the excitement of the late sixties. As they cut their teeth in the pop world they recorded a string of covers including I Want You Back by the Jackson Five and Hall and Oates’ Rich Girl. But today it is all about their latest album, Bad Self Portraits, that was released earlier this year. An album that could easily put a smile on the face of any true music lover.
The band took to the stage as the sun had finally set over West London. The opening distorted guitars and whaling vocals of Stop Your Crying filled the room. Stop Your Crying is a very accessible, radio-friendly song that blends melody and rhythm in equal portions and serves it cool, over ice. From the opening number it was clear that talent existed on all four corners of the stage. The first thing that caught my attention was the frantic double bass player, Bridget Kearney, providing the energetic rhythm that creates the backbone of the band. The vocalist, Rachael Price, could easily be mistaken for Amy Winehouse and she has obviously been heavily influenced by the late soulster. Mike ‘McDuck’ Olsen, the guitarist, seamlessly switched between guitar and trumpet, allowing the band to alternate between rock and a more soulful sound. The band are brought together by the charismatic drummer, Mike Calabrese, who could have easily taken a session job at Motown if he was around in the sixties. His vocal cameo during Seventeen was a particular highlight of the night and provoked a roar from audience.
Other highlights of the night were the soulful Bobby Tanqueray, the album title track, Bad Self Portraits and the ever-lively You Go Down Smooth. An excellent band who are equally talented in songwriting and musical performance and if there’s any justice in this fickle music industry they should a great future ahead of them. In any case it proved for a great night out, listening to real music.