MAGIC STICK, DETROIT – 6/6/07
We were standing on a beer-stink porch at South by Southwest, and Great Lakes Myth Society vocalist-guitarist James Christopher Monger was explaining how his stage suit was so crusted with sweat, it could have walked to Austin, Texas all by itself. He showed off the coat’s left elbow, ratted away and frayed, his white dress shirt bleeding through the dark fabric. His suit had worked as hard on this band as Monger had.
Monger’s suit was onstage again for this Saturday night’s GLMS home stand, as were the workwear of his fellow Myth members: Timothy, his brother, on accordion, guitar, and vocals; bassist J. Scott McClintock; drummer Fido Kennington; and guitarist Gregory McIntosh. And their threads really are workwear – while all bands work, it’s a part of Great Lakes Myth Society’s charm to appear as a true working band, musicians who sing for their supper, or arrive in your town via hitchhiker’s luck or boxcar, towing a few instruments and ready to transmit the songs they learned on the road. They could be in sepia tone and still tear it up.
Compass Rose Bouquet, the quintet’s second full-length and Quack! Media debut, is full of songs that do, rousing things with a knowledge of history and a love for five part harmonies. And the band played them all at this, their enjoyable warm-up gig for a brief jaunt to New York City. But it was McIntosh, their dark horse guitarist, who got the MVP award for the evening. He’s a workman, too, succinctly adding ripping guitar lines to the material. (He can play the honky-tonk like anything.) But he looked like a player – a baller, even, if that word works in the context of a “Northern Rock” band – in his cream-colored suit and open collar shirt, grown-out curls and knife-edge sideburns. Without discounting the rest of the band, McIntosh was the coolest dude on stage that night. He owned without having to make the scene.
Great Lakes Myth Society are a band on the brink. Their new material is in line with contemporary indie pop’s swing toward literate lyrics and ambitious song craft, but it can slay the Colin Meloys of the world with songs full of edges (and elbows) grown ragged from benders too long or murders imagined, boots with the toes blown off, and a regional pride that makes the storylines of their best songs leap off the page. Oh yeah, and McIntosh. None of their peers have McIntosh. You feel alright when you hear their music ring. — Johnny Loftus