Wild Vision

by Great Lakes

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    150 gram LP, virgin black vinyl. Hand numbered and limited to 327 records.

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about

WILD VISION is the 5th and latest album from Great Lakes. It features the same lineup that played on 2010's WAYS OF ESCAPE.

"A masterful collection of modern country-noir." - The Big Takeover

"A fantastic rock and roll record with a pastoral feel." - POP! Stereo

"Intimate yet psychedelic." - Magnet Magazine

Wild Vision delivers a creative peak for Crum and Great Lakes. Opener “Swim the River” weds crisp strum and effervescent electric licks to Shea and Lerner’s crack rhythm section as tasteful keyboard and synth deepens the equation. Gliding atop it all is Crum, his vocal lead well-shaded by Suzanne Nienaber’s pretty and unfussy accompaniment, their recurring partnership at the microphone lending the LP one of its best qualities. “Bird Flying” is tougher rock at a slower tempo, the environs boosted by understated organ and Crum’s dynamically impressive soloing. Steering kinda close to the middle of the contempo country-folk road, the easygoing nature of “Kin to the Mountain” gets substantially strengthened by superb musicianship nodding back to the ‘70s heyday of the no-nonsense studio pros; McGinty’s mildly Ian Stewart-esque piano is an especially attractive ingredient. “Wild Again” navigates a sturdier zone, though one with a palpable current of country-ish dramatics (think ‘60s movie theme songs) via Sterk’s pedal steel, Crum and Nienaber’s singing, and a song-structure led by Crum’s guitar that adroitly intensifies as it nears the finish. “Nature is Always True” ends side one with a tenser folk-rock atmosphere enhanced by threads of pop stateliness. “I Stay, You Go” finds Crum slightly evoking an unperturbed Alex Chilton wrangling up a Memphis femme and attempting a response to Gram’s duets with Emmylou Harris. Combining splendid writing with expert instrumentation and exceptional vocal execution, it provides Wild Vision a standout. The uptempo locomotion of “Beauties of the Way” wields a sophisto ambiance that to these ears suggests the solo albums of veteran rockers from the latter portion of the ‘80s, e.g. Robbie Robertson and T-Bone Burnett, but happily with a better approach to production (specifically in the drum sound) as the scenario is reinforced by elements of synth. “Blood on My Tooth” can’t help but bring to mind Camper Van Beethoven circa Key Lime Pie, though the songwriting feels more personal; McGinty again very deftly flavors the pot with keys of a springy ‘70s funk variety. Picking up the pace for a C&W-tinged finale, “Shot At and Missed” contrasts the vocal smoothness (perhaps the pair’s finest showing on the record) with the band’s robust delivery as Crum’s guitar remains at the fore. The Great Lakes of the 21st century registers as a near completely different proposition from the one that existed during 2000 to 2002. Diamond Times links the promising yet ultimately minor early work to the considerable achievements of the last two LPs. The confident and appealing Wild Vision serves as the pinnacle of this unforeseeable but welcome circumstance. GRADED ON A CURVE: A- - Joseph Neff, Graded On a Curve, TheVinylDistrict.com (www.thevinyldistrict.com/storefront/2016/01/graded-on-a-curve-great-lakes-wild-vision/)

With the release of the fifth Great Lakes full length record, Ben Crum and his band have made an album that really feels extremely personal even without really paying attention to lyrical content. Wild Vision is most definitely a rock record, albeit one peppered with strong country influences throughout often due to its excellent pedal steel guitar pushing that twangy feeling on nearly every song. Despite the mostly low-key country vibe, the record has some really strong classic rock guitar moments as well, at times bringing to mind some of the country tinged rock output of Neil Young. Honestly, when I put this on the turntable the first time, I was really skeptical that I would like it all the way through. By the time the second side ended, I could truly say without a doubt that I am a fan, so I turned it over and listened to it again.  –Mark Twistworthy, Razorcake.org (www.razorcake.org/record-reviews/great-lakes-wild-vision)

Great Lakes have been long time favourites of Americana UK. “Wild Vision” is the follow up to 2010’s “Ways of Escape” (which was our editor’s record of the year) and sees the Brooklyn based band fronted by Ben Crum build on the strengths of its predecessor, still focusing on the country and folk leanings of WoE while heading down a slightly darker, more brooding path.  The male female harmonies (featuring Suzanne Nienaber) which worked so well last time around are present from the opener “Swim the River.” Other highlights include “Kin to the Mountain,” which is carried by some stunning guitar-work and “Wild Again” which features some epic pedal steel and casts you in some desert space from a film you can half remember.  The whole album is saturated with references to the natural world but never in a saccharine way, and Crum’s talent for meticulous arrangement and a tune are still second to none - the pace might not vary much, it perhaps ratchets up a notch for tracks like “Beauties of the Way,” but the epic closing track “Shot at and Missed” is a fine example of proceedings never getting predictable.  The Great Lakes are still on their game as ever.  9 out of 10. - John Steven, Americana-UK.com  (www.americana-uk.com/cdreviews/item/great-lakes-wild-vision)

Ben Crum has been out in front of Great Lakes since 1996, and he is a man who works at a deliberate pace to create his craft. Great Lakes has released five records in twenty years, but the passion one hears on Wild Vision makes the wait worthwhile. Much of the material is accented by a country twang, particularly on “Kin to the Mountain”, “Wild Again”, and the majestically sparse “I Stay, You Go”. These efforts harken back to Crum’s days in Athens, Georgia and one would never imagine that Great Lakes have called Brooklyn home for the past fourteen years. The rough and tumble swagger of “Beauties of the Way” is a highlight here, as a galloping backbeat supports sterling guitar playing and lush vocals. Crum often employs a traveling circus of players, but the group that performs on Wild Vision is a collection he should consider holding on to for the foreseeable future; one only needs to hear the chill-inducing, gritty reality of “Blood on my Tooth” to appreciate the vast abilities of Crum and his cohorts. The closing “Shot at and Missed” is a rollicking conclusion to a record that takes elements of folk, country, and rock to make a celebratory record of American music. - Rich Quinlan, JerseyBeat.com (www.jerseybeat.com/quinlan-chronicles.html)

We first encountered Great Lakes as bucolic psychedelicists in Athens, Georgia on their Elephant 6-inspired Great Lakes and Distance Between albums (2000/2002), then heard harder urban tones reflecting life in Brooklyn (Diamond Times, 2006) before they explored the great outdoors on Ways of Escape (2010) and finally they put down roots in the country with Wild Vision. The arc is simple but spectacular, mirroring a journey made by Dylan and the Band, and Van Morrison, who grew tired of the city and gravitated to Woodstock, creating their own Cosmic American Music. Wild Vision describes a similar transformation. Each stage of the Great Lakes story has high points and Wild Vision is no different, but the highlight of the album is its country tone. It’s a natural, pastoral Americana that conjures up the Band, Van Morrison and Bobby Charles, apart from the Fleetwood Mac soft rock of ‘I Stay, You Go’. The tone is set by the lyrics of opener ‘Swim The River’: “let’s breathe the purer air and all the old sadness won’t be there”. It’s an invitation to head back to nature and back to a transcendental 70s rock style, guitars soaring, keyboards humming joyously. Though this is very much Ben Crum’s vision, he’s ably assisted, particularly by Suzanne Nienaber on vocals. ‘Nature is Always True’ is a psychedelic country song, full of mystic allusion to nature’s map that leads to the beyond. Just like the Band, he’s inspired by nature to see through the veil of ‘reality’ and seek what’s really out there. The mystic Americana is then tapped to its full potential on ‘Wild Again’, which is stormy and intense, full of a howling guitar frenzy in the second half. But for all the natural world, the best song ‘Bird Flying’ is the most personal one, a deep-plunging philosophical love song that is all the more affecting for sounding like it was won after many failures and false starts: “I am of this world but she knows of another”. With Great Lakes, submerging yourself in their history makes the impact of the current record even stronger, locating this natural and impulsive pastoral pop in the same topography that makes Music From Big Pink and its ilk so timeless. - Jed M., SoundsXP.com (soundsxp.com/artman2/publish/albums/Great_Lakes_Wild_Vision.shtml)

"It is on my radar for Album of the Year." - Joshua Macala, RaisedByGypsies blog (raisedbygypsies.blogspot.com/2016/02/cd-review-great-lakes-wild-vision-loose.html?m=1)

'Wild Vision' is a measured, musicianly collection of songs from a band that relocated to New York and were able to keep making music, the personal vision of Ben Crum undimmed by the passing of the years. The guitar part that opens first track 'Swim The River' instantly places the album in the alt country category, and its duetted vocal between Cum and vocalist Suzanne Neinaber also recalls the Go-Betweens in its unhurried cadences. 'Bird Flying' takes a similar path and while it's a pleasant enough sound Great Lakes are making, those guitars do seem to need the piano and organ backing to give the song that extra element of depth. Third track 'Kin To The Mountain' is a more interesting actual song, and its repeated chorus carries the air of a eulogy of sorts : 'I am kin to the mountain/ I am kin to the sea / my name is lightning / wild vision I seek'. You could just picture the phones and lighters waving above the heads of the audience at a Great Lakes gig as they sing along with what is perhaps the actual highlight of the album. 'Wild Vision' is a quality album of what we used to call Americana. - Jon Gordon, Tasty Fanzine (www.tastyfanzine.org.uk/albums166jan16.htm)

Great Lakes is driven by the songwriting skills of Ben Crum, a fellow who writes tunes that can pretty much be appreciated by anyone. Crum comes across sounding mighty relaxed and comfortable on Wild Vision, presenting smooth organic tracks that blend elements from folk, pop, and Americana. In addition to Crum the band also includes Kevin Shea on drums, David Lerner on bass, Joe McGinty on keyboards, Phillip Sterk on pedal steel, Heather McIntosh on cello, and Suzanne Nienaber on vocals (the same basic lineup that played on the 2010 release Ways of Escape). Cool, melodic, reflective...if you like the sound of real people playing real music, there's an excellent possibility you'll totally dig this stuff. - Babysue (www.babysue.com/2016-March-LMNOP-Reviews.html)

Ben Crum, with his latest incarnation of the long running Great Lakes, sheds the psych-folk of earlier releases in favor of a darker roots rock approach sprinkled generously with whispered indie intensity. An uplifting melancholia guides the exposed mid-tempos and edgy alt-country ballads. “Swim the River” and “Kin to the Mountain” demonstrate a firm grasp of mid-70s Neil Young and Rolling Stones country tinged laments. “Bird Flying” and “Blood on My Tooth” are notable standout tracks, extended harmonies fueled by decadent chord changes and brooding percussion. “Wild Again” perfectly captures the essence of this record with its hallucinogenic slow burn and sweet but bitter psychedelic country choruses. Vibrant but low-key female harmonies accentuate Crum’s unique understated vocal delivery throughout this collection of song, adding to the strength of the refrains and nuanced transitions. Wild Vision is a warm reinvention of Crum’s subliminal artistic vision, every song a crucial component in its soothing shadowy stroll. - Kevin McGovern, Fear/Loathing blog (longbeachloathing.blogspot.com/2016/02/witching-waves-and-great-lakes.html?m=1)

Great Lakes’ fifth album Wild Vision is primarily the project of guitarist-songwriter Ben Crum. The band has evolved from the pop-psych landscapes (themselves promising) of their first couple albums into a potent national voice, essaying a vital blend of yearnsome americana, countrified folk-tinged balladry, and flat-out vintage indie that’s not, for all that, shy about drawing astutely from the great communal well of rock’n’roll tropes. Glowing – sometimes glowering – with the power of their craft, this current iteration of the band (same crew as was on previous album Ways of Escape from 2010: bassist David Lerner, Psychedelic Fur Joe McGinty on keys, Kevin Shea drumming) present a 40-minute trek across terrain whereon is found the fruits of what solid, confident-to-the-point-of-inspiring songwriting can accomplish, especially in the hands of players this intuitively sympathetic. Along the way they invoke aural images of the Band here – “Swim The River”‘s spectral groundedness and, more keenly, the exquisite down-home reverence that imbues “Kin to the Mountain,” an honest tune put forward with an easy virtuosity, transcendent to the bone – the subtly pounding Knopfleresque groove of Dire Straits there – the irresistibly tripping twang of “Beauties of the Way” – a touch of acoustic Jim White-ness over yonder – the wryly wrought directness of “Nature Is Always True” – while saving room for dark shadowed treatises on love and the humble places it often leaves us. “Bird Flying” is preposterously good (thank you for those guitar breaks, Ben, holy hell). Listening to Wild Vision, I hear all kinds of records coming at me from all corners and it’s not exactly frequent that a collection of songs lands on my stereo that flows with such effortless, mastery-bordering facility that one could easily imagine a modern-day songwriters-in-the-round in some sunny backyard (with storm clouds bunching on the horizon, of course), your Justin Vernons, Sam Beams whatever, all going respectfully quiet, which is to say struck enviously dumb, as this guy Crum unloads gem after gem, their multiplicity of facets only outdone by the cast of canonized familiarity that shines within them. Songwriting-wise, Ben Crum has been heading for this apogee for some while, and on Wild Vision it would seem he’s reached it, a mere twenty years down the road. The mantle of being one of this country’s finest now firmly rests upon his shoulders. As proven here, he can handle it, and certainly deserves it. - Dave Cantrell, StereoEmbersMagazine.com (stereoembersmagazine.com/assuming-the-mantle-great-lakes-wild-vision/)

Records by the Great Lakes have been a bit sporadic, 5 in the last 16 years but it’s ok as I know one will appears sooner or later. The “band” is basically the work of one Ben Crum, though for each record he gets a ton of friends to add their magic. I wondered how he could top his previous record, 2010’s Ways of Escape, definitely my favorite by him. Not sure if Wild Vision has topped it but it’s at least as good, with sharp songwriting and all kinds of wild playing. He enlisted the help of friends Kevin Shea on drums, David Lerner on bass, Phillip Sterk on pedal steel and man about town Joe McGinty on keyboards (he’s played with everyone) plus backup vocalist Suzanne Nienaber (Crum handles guitar and the main vocals) and it’s wild ride. Crum’s guitar speaks several languages (reminds me a bit of Neil Young as I’ve stated in previous reviews) and cuts like “Swim the River,” “Kin to the Mountain," and the amazing “Wild Again” will just destroy everything in your house while you’re sitting there listening to it (you didn’t need that stuff anyway). He slows it down a bit on cuts like “ I Stay, You Go” and “Blood on My Tooth,” and “Nature is Always True” but those songs lack no power, staying or otherwise. My only real complaint is that he doesn’t record often enough, otherwise, another terrific Great Lakes record. - Tim Hinely, Dagger Zine (daggerzine.tumblr.com/post/139723764687/great-lakes-wild-vision-loose-trucks)

After emerging from the Athens, GA psychedelic pop world of the 90’s Great Lakes relocated to Brooklyn New York leaving their whimsical pop tunes behind. With a new home, Ben Crum made the decision to take his music into a darker direction writing songs that were a bit more substantial and personable. Once again enlisting the services of peers Suzanne Nienaber, Kevin Shea, David Lerner and Joe McGinty, Great Lakes set out on a course that would lead to Wild Vision. The songs on Wild Vision find Crum and friends at a place in life that seems comfortable. Crum’s writing has evolved and the songs resonate this. The soothing “Kin to the Mountain” blends beautiful melodies paired with the vocal harmonies of Crum & Nienaber as they sing about life. Each song on the record stands out because of something different. “Nature Is Always True” is an enjoyable track loaded with jaunty guitars and sweet pedal steel that swirl around Crum’s haunting vocals. The up tempo “Beauties of the Way” provides a 70’s vibe vacant of the soothing country flavors of many of the tunes. On “Swim the River” Great Lakes delivers a soothing soundscape built with multiple layers of sound that all complement each other. A song that really catches listener’s ears is “Wild Again”. This track builds with intensity before exploding into a wild guitar orgy at the end. It encompasses all that is good about Great Lakes music. Wild Vision is an album that seems simple, with songs about relationships and complications of life, but when you peel back the surface it is obvious there is much more there. Crum’s words sometimes take a back seat to the marvelous arrangements that flow around and through them so be sure to absorb what he has to say. Great Lakes is an entity that has evolved from a band playing music that was fun to a band playing music with meaning and substance. Hit play, turn up the volume and get lost in the music. - Chris Martin, The Atlanta Live Music Examiner (www.examiner.com/article/great-lakes-deliver-a-beautiful-album-with-wild-vision)

Now based in Brooklyn, Great Lakes haven’t changed much since their move from Athens, GA over a decade ago.  Sure they’re in the big city but their heart and soul is as rustic as ever and Wild Vision is an expansive dusty record that has more in common with mid-western prairies than the Van Wyck. Great Lakes collectively have come up with another fantastic record of rock and roll run through the country roads and backwoods of America. There’s enough heartbreak, bluesy guitar riffs, twangy pedal steel sounds, multipart vocals and brilliance to give you goosebumps. The record slowly trots along barely changing the pace throughout and it’s rarely, if ever, in an upbeat mood.  In fact, there’s a constant sense of emotional despair throughout but it works for the band because the music they create is so suited to this atmospheric environment.  If Nick Cave were to don a cowboy hat and ride off into the sunset with The Bad Seeds in tow Wild Vision is the sort of record they’d come up with. Wild Vision is not the feel good hit of 2016. It is, however, a temperamental and emotive record that feels like it could end in tears at any point. It is deeply thrilling. With Wild Vision, Great Lakes have a produced a record of countrified rock and roll that’s perfect for winter. I really enjoyed this album and after being away for so long it’s nice to know that Great Lakes can still create material like Wild Vision. - Paul, Pop Stereo Reviews Blog (popstereoreviews.blogspot.com/2016/02/great-lakes-wild-vision.html)

Great Lakes blew me away with Wild Vision. — Krisann Janowitz, Independent Clauses blog (independentclauses.com/tag/wild-vision/)

credits

released January 22, 2016

All songs written by Ben Crum. Mixed by Steve Silverstein. Mastered by Jen Munson.

Ben Crum: guitars and vocals, Suzanne Nienaber: vocals, Dave Lerner: bass, Kevin Shea: drums, Joe McGinty: keyboards, Phil Sterk: pedal steel, Heather McIntosh: cello, Kenny Wachtel: guitar on "Kin to the Mountain" and "Beauties of the Way," Dave Gould: synth on "Wild Again," Steve Silverstein: wind synth on "Blood On My Tooth."

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Great Lakes / Ben Crum / Loose Trucks Records Brooklyn, New York

Led by singer-songwriter-guitarist Ben Crum, Great Lakes has released 5 albums and a half dozen singles since the band formed in Athens, GA in 1996. Based in Brooklyn, NY since 2002, the band's latest record is called Wild Vision and is available Jan. 22, 2016 on Loose Trucks. ... more

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