TVD Recommends: Daniel Ellsworth and the Great Lakes at the Beat Kitchen, 10/11

With so many bands coming out of Nashville today, it can be hard to sift through it all. One band worth your time and checking out this Saturday at Chicago’s Beat Kitchen is Daniel Ellsworth and the Great Lakes. Their latest album, Kid Tiger, is filled with highly energetic, synth-heavy rock songs that provide is a perfect canvas for the smooth, punchy vocals, which are some of the best in the business.

A few weeks ago, I met Daniel Ellsworth (keyboard/guitar/vocals), Joel Wren (drums), Timon Lance (guitar), and Marshall Skinner (bass) at a hip taco joint in Chicago’s Wicker Park which usually has a steady stream of Johnny Cash playing from the speakers and serves margaritas that will hit you firmly over the head (in a good way).

Sure, I had a bunch of prepared questions, but shortly into our conversation about vinyl and Snapchat, I kind of forgot that I was doing an interview. They were just a lot of fun to be around and they have a charisma that is hard to ignore. I wasn’t surprised to hear from little birdies around town about their high energy sets that feel more like house parties than a show at a venue.

When you listen to Kid Tiger, it’s clear they didn’t hold back on letting their influences heavily contribute to their sound. This can sometimes make the songs seem a bit too familiar, like you’ve heard it before and not heard it ever before—all at the same time. But just because everyone’s hand is in the pot, doesn’t mean that the record is all over the place. They make a point to tell me that creating a cohesive album while also allowing themselves to just be expressive in an organic way is always the goal.

Daniel says, “All of us come from super diverse backgrounds. Joel grew up playing in metal bands and Timon came up in the school of bluegrass and Americana. I grew up listening to more pop rock and experimental stuff —Wilco and along those lines. Marshall grew up on classic rock.

We wanted it to be cohesive but we didn’t want to fight any of our influences and where the diversity comes from. Joel writing drum parts [for example,] I wanted him to write them how he wants them to be. Because of that and trying to find a middle ground and make it something that people are going to like and be into, that’s sort of where the sound came from.”

They are also big music fans who grew up listening to CDs and cassette tapes, eventually maturing into vinyl collectors with an appreciation for production. “I went to the record store every Tuesday to get a new CD,” Daniel says. “For me, it wasn’t just the experience of the music that was on it—it was looking at the booklet. Looking at the album. Who produced it? Who played on it? And where did they play on other records and why? And why is that a cool thing to know?”

It’s totally a cool thing to know and exactly what led me to wanting to talk to them in the first place. It was clear to me by the end of the night that for these guys it simple—make music you believe in and that you like. Trust your instincts and work with great people. The rest will follow.

Check out Daniel Ellsworth and the Great Lakes this Saturday at the Beat Kitchen. Kid Tiger is available to purchase on vinyl, CD, and digitally here.

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