Lake Street Dive: Bad Self Portraits Review

If you’ve been keeping track of this year’s growing roster of fresh talent, odds are good the name Lake Street Dive will sound familiar. For those who have not yet been formally introduced, imagine you have the barstool view of a local joint’s evening talent. A three-piece band complete with a classic stand-up bass works the stage in a small smoky room as a fourth band member commands the mic. The music has a jazzy tempo, but it’s not jazz; the vocalist belts lyrics out like a veteran soul singer, but it’s not quite soul. The band’s exact classification is left to the listener to decide upon – as for the musicians of Lake Street Dive, they’re happy enough to sound as raw and free as any small-time band peddling dive bar districts.

As is the case with several bands that experience a sudden breakthrough, Lake Street Dive have been together for quite a while – nearly ten years, in their case. Trumpeter and guitarist Mike Olson, singer Rachael Price, bassist Bridget Kearney and drummer Mike Calabrese met in Boston while studying at the New England Conservatory and spent the next few years experimenting with genre varieties until one of their YouTube covers became a sudden viral hit. Prior to their 2013 break, Lake Street Dive had two releases to their name (2010’s self-titled debut and 2012’s Fun Machine, a six-song collection comprised mainly of covers), but it’s their 2014 record that has everyone talking. Bad Self Portraits was released through Signature Sounds Recording in February and garnered immediate attention with help from iTunes (the title track was an iTunes “Single of the Week” in February) and a few public appearances on shows like The Colbert Report and The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

“Bad Self Portraits” and “You Go Down Smooth” serve as the album’s clear frontrunners, doling out catchy grooves that turn curious listeners into ardent fans and raising the stakes with Price’s powerful vocals. “Seventeen” exists as another potential hit for the band, overshadowed thus far by the steady popularity of “Bad Self Portraits” but nevertheless a relatable track with lyrics on missed opportunities that most anyone can sympathize with.

From its title track opener through hidden gems “Use Me Up” and “What About Me,” Bad Self Portraits is a diamond in the rough type of record that listeners and reviewers alike have raved about since its release. With vocals that recall Susan Tedeschi’s brimming style and a comprehensive sound with a natural flow and jive, Lake Street Dive have an edge that is making them one of 2014’s biggest new discoveries.

The Review: 8/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Bad Self Portraits
– You Go Down Smooth
– Seventeen
– What About Me

The Big Hit

– Bad Self Portraits

Review by Meghan Roos

Buy the album: Amazon | iTunes

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