Go Jump in the LAKE

On his third album for K Records, quirky Pacific Northwest troubadour Karl Blau further feels out the African-inspired sounds he has flirted with in the past. Zebra is full of languid guitar sprawl, entrenched basslines, and stuttered drums, never heading in a direction you’d expect but never quite going astray. Blau’s voice manifests itself as a heavy sigh, also heard on his pal Laura Veirs’ latest album. He has also produced several K releases in the past year, setting up shop at Calvin Johnson’s longtime base studio, Dub Narcotic. Those credits include LAKE’s new album, Let’s Build a Roof, on which the all-caps Olympia six-piece (and sometimes more) refines the dreamy, ramshackle pop introduced on last year’s Oh, the Places We’ll Go. But not too much; the band still swaps lead singers and pieces together a sort of junkyard sound. It’s just a smoother ride this time, exemplified on the bashfully sublime “Madagascar” and the harmony-lifted “The Roof Caves In.” Touring together will only deepen the connection between Blau and LAKE’s color-smeared palettes, which begin to swirl into one after a few listens to each.

Half Handed Cloud opens.
Sun., Nov. 22, 9 p.m., 2009

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