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Crooked Lake

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Album Review

There may be no better American rock band to have emerged in the late 2000s than Milwaukee's the Goodnight Loving. And most certainly very few who, by the anti-will of their own humility and small-town D.I.Y. roots, managed to sneak through the indie-zeitgeist's gaze with such woeful underappreciation. But alas, they are merely carrying the torch first unceremoniously lit by fellow Midwesterners like '68 Comeback and the Oblivians, whose frontman, Greg Cartwright, unsurprisingly produced their 2006 debut, Cemetary Trails. But where that effort was a remarkable, if unsophisticated, launching pad for kids in their early twenties f*****g around with a carnival of rustic influences and a diplomatic songwriting approach, Crooked Lake is a focused journey through traditional Americana, religiously sloppy garage rock, and the most ramshackle of punk rock brattiness. "Land of 1000 Bars," a particularly rollicking, harmonica-hoisted two-minute frenzy, is anchored by their trademark knack for sharply worded sentiments that ideally capture inglorious nostalgia, like the first verse's lament that, "I've traveled near and far, but I still can't shake the shadows of 1,000 bars." But just as suddenly they can unleash a contemporarily jaded folk song like "21st Century Post-Apocalyptic Worried Rant," which juxtaposes the insistent strumming of a lo-fi acoustic against knowingly lethargic vocals, while the faintest of keyboard notes serve as a sarcastic pulse to keep the song on measure. And when the bluegrass twang of "Whiskey Nights'" gives way to rolling, half-time snares and harmonized choral vocals, a moment of pure musical joy coincides with the realization that Crooked Lake is a crucial work by a group of guys with an endearing, and necessary, lack of self-consciousness. And that with any revisionist luck, it will eventually be included in the canon of that decade's essential rock LPs.


Formed: Milwaukee, WI

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Named for a trail running from Texas to Wyoming that was carved out in the 1860s (and became the subject of a classic western ballad), the Goodnight Loving are a band from Milwaukee, WI whose music is a passionate, eclectic combination of folk-rock, country, garage rock, pop punk, indie rock, blues, and seemingly anything else that's honest and strikes their fancy. All the members of the group have roots in Wisconsin, and most came to Milwaukee from smaller towns, drawn by the city's lively music...
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Crooked Lake, Goodnight Loving
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