Referring to themselves as an "extremely artist-centric label", Hippies Are Dead Records delivers Grand Lake's Blood Sea Dream as their first release. The S.F. and New York based label chose this band for its chemistry not only in the studio but on stage, as the label as a huge focus on live music.
With Blood Sea Dream the Oakland quartet ventures into layers upon layers of treated and raw sounds. The dramatic melodies are at times barreling before making eerie dips in scale, alternating between stripped down to multilayered. They start off delicate before launching into shimmering and bold anthems, as with "Louise" where singer Caleb Nichols urges by way of bleating repetition. "Carpoforo" switches to melodious twinkles and charmed "ooohs," a quick flip from the haunting twangs of the guitar and escalating distortions. With "Black Cloud," the band gets rockier while still building the layers and shifts in melody. The song is a bit of a space-jam with eclectic little bits of folky fingerpicking and shoegazy excursions. It's a bit difficult to pin down the trajectory, and that just might be what they want.
Standout track is "My Father Is A Forest Full of trees" with its aching melodies that still shift dramatically but remain the most grounded. This is the track that most clearly expresses who the band is and where they're going. The melodies still shift to unexpected pep and optimism, but the band is really at their strongest when not tethered to try everything at once.