Album Reviews

Cold Lake Flight School: The Great Dry Lake [Album Review]

Cold Lake Flight School

I thought of three artists upon first hearing Cold Lake Flight School‘s opening track on The Great Dry Lake. “It Hit The Land” has the simple, stripped-down nature of folk master Jason Molina. The songs are straightforward and, at times, minimalist. When they aren’t, you can hear the influence of Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum, whose forays into slight lo-fi genius are par none. Again Cold Lake Flight School pulls the proper elements to enhance the music. “Driftwood” drives the band from folk into rock with a clever guitar riff and the consistent accompanying shake of the tambourine.

The final artist is Microphones/Mount Eerie’s Phil Elverum — Cold Lake Flight School’s Joshua Johnston capitalizes on his superb creative DIY abilities in both album packaging and on tunes like “Street Lamps”. The song is packed with a similar drone of guitar that builds a wall of tension that never quite explodes. Not to mention the explosion of guitars in “Privileged Ghosts”. And like Elverum, Johnston lives off the beaten path.

From rural Kentucky, one wouldn’t necessarily think a band as original and excellent as Cold Lake Flight School could emerge. Not much can be gleaned about Caneyville, KY in the vast expanse of the online world. Wikipedia notes that, as of the 2000 census, only 627 resided within town limits. It also lists an incorporation date of 1880, and that it takes its name from the river beside which it sits.

Certainly, you would think, Caneyville has grown since then. Of this, I am not sure. But what I do know is Cold Lake Flight School aptly demonstrates that, despite hailing from and residing in truly small-town America, a band’s concurrent origins and whereabouts are no test to its greatness. As CLFS hits the closing bridge of loud guitars in “Tightrope Sway” that becomes immediately apparent.

Listening to Cold Lake Flight School, one gets a distinct image painted in their mind — one of a century-old farmhouse heated by a wood stove; of well-maintained, decades-old appliances; of meager and humble belongings (after all, when the beauty of nature surrounds you, how much do you really need?); of having a smaller footprint on the world; of a calming and simple and satisfying life that rural America provides.

Cold Lake Flight School’s music has that effect. It makes you want to escape city life, be it Manhattan, Los Angeles, Seattle or even Portland. It has that urge to get out, to move to the country, to be an organic farmer and live off the land.

You can pick up The Great Dry Lake by Cold Lake Flight School over at bandcamp via the ever-popular pay-what-you-want model. And if you want a physical, hand-packaged DIY copy, those are available too.

Download: “It Hit The Land” by Cold Lake Flight School
[audio:100318-cold-lake-flight-school-it-hit-the-land.mp3|titles=It Hit The Land|artists=Cold Lake Flight School]

Download: “Driftwood” by Cold Lake Flight School
[audio:100318-cold-lake-flight-school-driftwood.mp3|titles=Driftwood|artists=Cold Lake Flight School]

Cold Lake Flight School: The Great Dry Lake

[CD, 2010]

1. It Hit The Land
2. Writers
3. Driftwood
4. Privileged Ghosts
5. Loose Feathers
6. Kent Stalk
7. The Prospect Of Long Distance Flight
8. Street Lamps
9. Tightrope Sway
10. Song For A Bruised Aviator
11. The Flood & Our Blood

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