Listening to Lanterns on the Lake

When you write about music, even at a humble blogging level like this, there’s an inevitable tendency to train-spot…..ah yes, well this band have obviously been influenced by X.Y and/or Z.  Of course, it’s natural enough; to any reader that may not have heard the band in question,  it ‘s a sincere attempt to offer them a way in to that band’s music.  It’s a (probably futile) stab at describing  the indescribable, the intention being that the reader’s interest is sufficiently piqued so that they check out said band. 

However, it does, of course, have its downside.  If I were to write that Newcastle-upon-Tyne six piece Lanterns on the Lake sound like a cross between Neil Young and Showaddywaddy (happily, they don’t sound like either) then I am automatically setting up expectations in the minds of readers that may be misleading.  Any band worth its salt are a good deal more than the sum of their influences and so it is with LOTL.  

So, keeping that in mind, let’s get the inevitable comparisons out of the way.  LOTL’s music is rooted in the traditions of English folk music and they join a growing roster of artists based in the north-east – The Unthanks and the excellent Johnny Dickinson are others – who are integrating the folk tradition into a more expansive framework.   What that means for LOTL is to place their words in a musical framework that evokes the whole Opal/Mazzy Star/Hope Sandoval ethic of intimate lyrics delivered against a widescreen backdrop of chiming guitars and  echoing piano – with judicious use of electronics as well.  Hazel Wilde’s naturalistic vocal delivery merely accentuates that connection, though other band members also sing lead on certain numbers.  Brooklyn’s Hem are another point of comparison and there are others, but, as mentioned previously,  LOTL are, of course, far more than the sum of their influences.

Lanterns on the Lake are  Hazel Wilde (vocals, guitar), Adam Sykes (vocals, guitar), Paul Gregory (guitars, electronics), Brendan Sykes (bass), Sarah Kemp (violin) and Ol Ketteringham (drums, piano).  This is not a band of teen prodigies; all of them have played in and around Newcastle for some time with other bands, but have been working as LOTL since 2008.

After a couple of well-received independently produced EP’s, they signed with the (apparently) über-cool Bella Union label, have presumably given up their day jobs and have put out their first full-length album, recorded on a modest budget and entitled  ‘Gracious Tide, Take Me Home’ , which, as debut albums go, is an absolute snorter.  They have also played at Glastonbury and recorded a session for BBC’s Radio 6, so they are already some way up the music biz food chain and, given the almost universally positive reviews accorded to the album,  seem set fair for the proverbial ‘Big Future’.  Let’s hope so; we need more music like this…and less Neil Young & Showaddywaddy.

LOTL will be touring the UK in November to promote their album and if they’re anything like as good on stage as they are on CD, it should be memorable.

Details of the tour can be found here:


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