It's not all that often that we are totally confounded by a band, but Lake Street Dive has that precise effect.
The Brooklyn-based four-piece fit no one description. Sometimes lead singer Rachael Price's infectious vocals inspire memories of old soul; other times, the catchy lyrics call contemporary indie pop easy-listening into mind; in some tunes, the upright bass is jazzy and blue-grassy as can be and the guitar alternates between what you'd hear in a bar alongside penny pitchers and new folk grooves.
Lake Street Dive made their name mainly through their live shows, with 2014's "Bad Self Portrait" by far their greatest commercial and critical success yet. They may look like work buddies wailing covers of their favorite songs on a subway platform, but it's easy to see why they have gained the following they have. They have covered Fleetwood Mac, The Mamas and Papas, Paul McCartney and others and they have fun doing so: above you'll see they belted "I Want You Back" on a Boston street corner, to no crowd at all.
I was turned on to Lake Street Dive when a friend sent me their absolutely overwhelmingly good cover of Hall & Oates' "Rick Girl." I'm a total sucker for prominent bass, and the upright bass is expertly handled and perfectly highlighted. I mistakenly let them slip out of my queue for a while until recently, when the same friend shared their 2014 full release (thanks JP). It's 11 songs of that same unique lovable combination, and I really recommend it. My favorite track of the lot is "Use Me Up," which slips in and out of the simple chorus with well-timed, shrilly backup vocals. That bass is there again, so I'm a happy man. The lyrics are catchy and relatable, often using borderline-cliché 'everydayisms' ("It's this way or the highway") that are disguised by the instrumentals and sound quality enough to fall short of banal. It's not always the most adventurous song writing, but if you give them a chance you'll soon see why it just doesn't have to be here.
They'll be all over the country this summer (sadly not in New York until September) and are definitely worth a shot. Check out their tour listings on their website: http://www.lakestreetdive.com/
Lake Street Dive - recordings of their live performances and their full recordings alike - will sit nicely with your summer weekend BBQ. It's easy, toe-tapping stuff that urges you into its world with some tunes and lets you stay comfortably and happily distant from others.