Conflict of Interest: Album Review
Hypatia Lake – Your Mind, Your Universe
Sad Robot Records
I guess we’re just gonna have to get used to writing about bands we personally know. As NadaMucho.com delves further and further into the murky waters of concert promotion, artist publicity and releasing records on our new label, it stands to reason two things will happen. 1) We’ll meet and befriend more talented musicians whose work would otherwise be fodder for our volunteer music publication. 2) The extremely talented people we know will get closer and closer to the stardom they so richly deserve, eventually releasing their own music which normally would be subject to the editorial pen of our band of rock critic savants.
But what’s all this have to do with Hypatia Lake? It works a little like this:
1) Randy and Jared, two original members of Hypatia Lake who have since left to pursue other interests, are friends with Will and Caleb, both of whom are long-time NadaMucho.com friends and contributors.
2) Will’s band, The Glasses, released their Sunbreaks EP earlier this year on NadaMucho.com Records, our first. Randy, Jared and Caleb all played on the record.
3) Caleb flew back from the Midwest to join Will, new guitarist Adrian and a temporary drummer for the band’s awesome set at their Chop Suey EP release party June 20th.
4) When Jared left Hypatia Lake a couple months ago, Lance, the mastermind behind the brilliance of Hypatia Lake, wisely asked Will to accompany the band to L.A. to play for uber-producer Dave Hillis. He obliged.
5) Will unofficially became the new lead guitarist for Hypatia Lake. That is, until his duties as vocalist/guitarist/songwriter/producer/accountant/sex symbol/spokesperson for The Glasses command too much of his time, which will inevitably happen when the band’s debut full-length comes out in early 2004.
6) Will invited some of the Nada staff out to Hypatia Lake’s headlining gig at the Sunset Tavern last month, and our minds were resolutely and permanently blown.
Wishing all things well for our friends and co-contributors, we have to admit NadaMucho.com has a personal, vested interest in Hypatia Lake’s success. Reconciling this with our commitment to maintaining a sharp editorial pen can sometimes be difficult.
So it was with much relief that we can say, honestly and truly, that Hypatia Lake is good. Really good. Following within the parameters of arty-asskickers like Radiohead, Los Halos, Pink Floyd and even Polyphonic Spree (especially the vocals) they are inarguably one of the best bands in Seattle, and one of several around the world (yes, they’re that good) our fellow rock critics are keeping a close eye on.
Their debut album Your Universe, Your Mind is out now on Sad Robot Records, a label run by former Village Voice scribe Mike McGonigal. You could read through his choices for the Pazz & Jop Critics poll to confirm his good taste, but you don’t really need look much further than his label’s roster. Joining Hypatia Lake are fellow critical darlings Sin Ropas, recently-disbanded Seattle favs Carissa’s Weird and Terror Sheets, who may have just released my favorite album of 2003.
Even in this company, Hypatia Lake shines. Your Universe, Your Mind is a seven-song concept album that introduces the premise behind their music – Hypatia Lake is a fictional town you see, and the songs are about the characters who reside in said town. Sounds potentially pretentious? It’s not. The idea of a concept album makes you nervous? Don’t let it. There’s not a single moment on the album that drags or sounds self-indulgent. It’s interesting, powerful and moving from beginning to end.
Then again, we might be biased. So don’t just take our word for it:
– The Stranger: “I’m so ecstatic to report that Hypatia Lake is a smart, driven group of guys with lots of good material in them. Artistic, and even a bit haunted, this band truly engaged me and the 25 to 30 others in the showroom, most of whom stood rapt through the entire set of well-crafted material.”
– 90.3 KEXP: “Thought-provoking samples and lyrics, washes of psychedelic guitar, timid acoustic keys and waves of stormy percussion drive the Seattle band Hypatia Lake. Shoegazing indie rock enters the soundtrack realm.”
Local fanzine Three Imaginary Girls: “Hypatia Lake never fail to devastate, like a sonorous celebratory assault.”