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Monday, March 2, 2015

Nostalgic Jam Trips Take Center Stage in Latest Lotus Incarnation

Concert Preview

Posted By on Mon, Mar 2, 2015 at 2:57 PM

Like a hearty index fund (but way more exciting), the trajectory of Lotus has mirrored the ascendence of electronic music in the American jam band scene. Having hit the streets with 2004's Nomad and, in particular, 2007's live album Escaping Sargasso Sea, the Philadelphia-born band has continued to experiment and blend various styles into its own fusion-oriented sound.

With their latest album, Gilded Age, Lotus expands on what they've built and splits its purview between past and future.

Stream the full album below.

Nostalgia comes to mind when listening to this one, and bassist Jesse Miller confirmed as much when we spoke with him recently.

“With this album, I think it did kind of start out with a couple songs at first — ‘Let Me In,’ ‘The Oaks,’ and ‘Gilded Age’ had been written a little while before," Miller says. "We wanted to do this kind of vibe of hinting at something that’s not quite a party song, something that’s reaching for something else. Then we ended up writing a few more things that fit into that same vein.”

Example: “The Oaks,” probably the best song on the album, dances between ebullient, almost Middle Eastern sounds and a central section that features open space, flourishes of synth and a hypnotic guitar line. Jesse’s heavy bass leads the band back to the roller coaster ride, and the main theme of “The Oaks” returns.

Likewise, "Sunset of the Giant Dipper," which plays nicely off the cover art for the album, reminds us that Lotus is first and foremost a rock band. They dive into the electronic world as a vehicle for their ideas, but the composition and instrumentation remains rooted firmly in more classically rock 'n' roll realms. "Sunset," to that end, is a brimming opus. It's got a climactic feel to it, capping off the songs that come before it on the album and setting up a transition into the album's four remix tunes.

Gilded Age fits in nicely with the band's history — one that, again, charts the rise of "jamtronica" pretty well. With firm footing in the rock world, though, Lotus has managed to stay true to their roots over the past 10 years.

"It's hard to ignore the rise of EDM in the U.S. and how that's really changed the festival scene. We're definitely between those two worlds in some ways," Miller says. "It's really interesting because back when we were starting out, we were kind of this oddball band that was incorporating those influences. Now it's very common to be bringing some kind of electronic or using some of those beats with live instrumentation. It's also interesting to see how festivals have changed. We've seen big electronic festivals and parties and more jam band-oriented or rock festivals.

"We thought, 'These are pretty similar; what would happen if they started to come together?' But then when they did start to come together, I thought it got a little weird. It went from, you know, back then there were more DJs with turntables, and then it became this whole computerized thing where a lot of the guys are really not doing all that much onstage. I think you're seeing more of a return to and appreciation of people playing instruments."

with Broccoli Samurai
8 p.m., Sunday, March 8, House of Blues, 308 Euclid Ave., 216-523-2583.
Tickets: $22 in advance, $25 day of show,

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