The Gleam: The Chisago County EP

The Gleam
The Chisago County EP

Yeah, don't judge a CD by its cover, unless the cover is a portrait of a forlorn radio tower and an overexposed Polaroid of a solitary slacker sitting in a lawn chair on a frozen lake, face toward the sun, ice house and beater parked in the background, nothing biting, nowhere to go, and it's so eerie and simple and the band name alone makes you want to climb inside their outhouse, so you crack it open and after only three songs, you need to shout about this great new band, THE GLEAM, but you want to be careful to avoid comparisons to White Stripes or Hassle because like anyone who gives a shit about this kind of music, these guys are persnickety-special, not only because it's obvious that their lineage is more Carter Family and Hootenanny than alt-country or neo-rock, more jug band than critic's darling, but because they've got yelping angel-dog harmonies; laughs amidst the tracks that answer in the affirmative the Napolean Dynamite question "Are you guys having a killer time?"; a singer obviously straining at the edges of his life; a drummer who pushes everything along like cornfield-to-city light rail; terrific songs about getting fat and stoned and waiting for the sunrise and being lonely but not alone and yelling about being alive at the well and a bridge in the last song that goes, "This is a bridge of hope and doubt/this is a bridge to carry us out," which is surely a clever shout-out to bridge-makers all, and it makes a body realize that the Gleam epitomizes what makes the land of 10,000 bands still tick: They have seen their neighbors, some of the best bands of their or any time, never "make it," and so their version of "making it" is putting a line in the water and making a sound that is as expansive as egg cartons on a practice room wall, and as organic as a walleye flopping on the edge of a dank hole in the middle of nowhere.

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