Lake Trout – Not Them, You

Lake Trout
Not Them, You

The commercial and critical success of Radiohead seemed to spawn an ocean of followers, mostly imitators, but the dreamy, shoegazey, atmospheric rock (emphasis on the rock) on Not Them, You proves that the guys in Lake Trout are innovators, not imitators. The music is so saturated with the emotive mope-rock influences of UK bands like Radiohead, Travis, and Snow Patrol, it’s hard to believe this band hails from Baltimore. But what makes Lake Trout unique is the way these artists ignore the rules of the day and incorporate the 70s prog-rock ethos of creating a dynamic album of experimental rock with nary a weak tune.

Three years removed from their last release, Another One Lost, and a year writing and recording with imaginative rock producers Tony Doogan (Mogwai, The Delgados) and Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev), Not Them, You contains 16 sonorous, brooding alternative-rock tracks that are as open and experimental as they are rocked out and catchy. No rules or formulas are followed here, which allows these artists the freedom to explore new territory while staying true to the music their sound evolved from. The prog-rock of Pink Floyd, Genesis, and Yes do not hit you in the face and are not so much heard in the mix as they are felt in the production. The solid bass of James Griffith anchors the rockier tunes, and Matt Pierce’s keyboards and flute shine on the slower open mixes. Michael Lowry keeps the beat with steady drumming, while the soaring, dueling guitars of Ed Harris and Woody Ranere provide the alternative-rock backbone.

While each song is distinctively Lake Trout, tracks like “Peel” and “Systematic Self” are cut from the cloth of Radiohead’s textured, electronic rock. The first resembles something from Kid-A or Amnesiac, while the latter is more in line with the spacey atmospherics of OK Computer. Opener “Shiny Wrapper” and “Now We Know,” with their pounding bass lines and Woody Ranere’s tempered vocals, hold a candle to Snow Patrol’s best work. The more melodic, poppier tunes “Pill” and “Have You Ever” are akin to the introspective rock of Travis.

Lake Trout is not afraid to venture away from structure as evident on “I” and “II,” which are short, ambient instrumental pieces, as well as the title track, which is a slightly longer instrumental tune with classic post-rock piano and drums without the cacophonous wall of guitars. “If I Can” and “King” present a more open, Hood-like experimental sound with subtle textures and flute. To further the 70s credo, a more atmospheric, Fridmann-produced cover of the Stones’ “Street Fighting Man” is included, but the strongest tune is “Riddle,” with its smooth guitar and rhythmic bass dynamics, synth strings, and mysterious keyboard lick; it could easily be an alternative radio hit.

Although the band is one of many fish in the post-Radiohead mope-rock waters, at least the name of the band stands out, though one is never sure whether it is Lake Trout the fish or Lake Trout the lake. But either way, Not Them, You provides enough experimental, angst-ridden alternative rock and dynamic hooks to make this a unique species, and it will make a nice addition to your CD collection. If you don’t believe me, I’ll tell you again.