Lord Huron – Doug Fir



Review by Mark Stock

There’s something Caribbean about Lord Huron and it’s much more than the maracas and warm gusts of guitar. It’s the endlessness of their sound that gives you sea legs, pure and placid at times but just as likely to start splashing, turning the stage into a sea of whitecaps.

Ben Schneider’s band settled in Los Angeles, but his Midwestern roots affect Lord Huron’s every limb. This is especially true in Mighty, the band’s newest four song EP. It bears an addictive, airy, bleakness about it.  Voids in all the right places – like gasps from a living creature – akin to fellow Midwestern breakouts Bon Iver or Peter Wolf Crier. But when Lord Huron is not pausing for a breath, it’s bouncing about with a Calypso-folkiness that seems simultaneously set in both Bermuda and Belfast.

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Nobody expects sound trouble at the Doug Fir, but Lord Huron tussled with feedback and static early on. Fortunately, by “The Stranger” – a song that’s just as much a saga as it is a surging folk ballad – the sound checks out. Gone is the studio cleanliness Lord Huron boasts in their only two EPs. Live, the five-piece is a bit slower, a bit more subdued. Schneider plays more to his Michigan side, submitting to the cabin-like surroundings of the Doug Fir.

Schneider himself is as worldly as his music. He has an interest in Gamelans (Indonesian ensembles), earned from time spent in Bali. And he doesn’t sleep. When he’s not writing all of Lord Huron’s sound, he’s drawing it’s look, in the form of album art. It’s a classic case of prodigy, and the world is beginning to take notice.

But with a limited library comes a short set. Because there’s so much bundled in every song (echoing harmonies, computerized ambient noise, tropical percussion, feisty acoustic guitar, an overhanging fluidity), nobody is left hungry. Considering this is their first tour stop amidst a very young musical career, Lord Huron impresses.  Their finest moment comes during “Mighty,” when watery sound samples bubble up beside afro-drumming and steely, surfy guitar lines.

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Schneider pounds the shit out of an old drum to the Paul Simon-esque “We Went Wild” before the band exits. He’s clearly invested in his craft, lost in it even. With eyes rolled back he begins to stagger around the stage, narrowly avoiding the drum kit and several guitar stands. This is when he’s possessed, when the comparisons to Vampire Weekend, Jim James or Panda Bear all fall short. Lord Huron is a different creature all together, one of some foreign sea where warm water is just as likely to freeze. A Michigan winter with palm trees.

Stay tuned for a full length from Lord Huron and a headlining tour of its own.

One Response to “Lord Huron – Doug Fir”

  1. A Believer says:

    Saw Lord Huron last night in Omaha. Completely blown away. Cannot wait for the full length, which according to one of the band members may be coming out within the next 6 months or so.

    These guys are the real deal!

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