Spotlight on Lake Street Dive

Genre: Acoustic Indie Pop
Hometown: Boston, MA
Artistic Approach: Constructing pop atop jazz foundations.

Lake Street Dive didn’t get to be one of the most unique bands around by resting on their laurels. Since founding the band as jazz students at Boston’s New England Conservatory, the quartet has been continually developing their sound and refining their songwriting. From the ashes of their short-lived initial concept – avant-garde, improvisational country music – grew quirky, charming songs at the halfway point between jazz and indie rock. Though it’s carried them to a wide variety of venues all over the U.S., and a record deal with Signature Sounds, the band refuses to be content with the status quo. 

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Lake Street Dive introduces their latest developments on their new EP, Fun Machine. Drummer Mike Calabrese describes how the band’s sound has changed since their last release: “We began to distance ourselves from the jazz idiom, refine our songwriting a lot, and rely more on pop sensibilities.”

Their swanky, slow-grooving rendition of “I Want You Back” is emblematic of the shift toward a more pop-oriented sound, as is the addition of background vocals. Though Rachael Price’s stunning, sultry voice wants for nothing, and singing backgrounds was a new challenge for the instrumentalists, the harmonies add a striking new dimension to the music. “It wasn’t beautiful at first, but it’s highly practical,” Calabrese observes. “We realized people really respond to it, and the band and the music benefit from it and it’s super fun.”

Fun Machine also showcases the band’s rhythm duo: Calabrese on drums and Bridget Kearney on bass. The pair creates grooves that are deeply funky, yet highly sophisticated. “She likes greasy playing, and I like greasy playing,” Calabrese says. “We enjoy that slipperiness, being on the edge.

Studying jazz, you learn how to hear through the groove and trust that you’re gonna keep it together.”

photo by Deidre Schoo

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