Man Made Lake a bit murky

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March 21, 2013

Man Made Lake
Murky Waters (2012)
Produced by Eric Hogg at Soma Studios

 Reviewed by Noah Cebuliak

Victoria alternative rock band Man Made Lake is up for a Vancouver Island Music Award this April in the Rock/Pop album of the year category for their debut LP, Murky Waters. The album is a collection of 10 songs loosely based around love lost and gained, battles with vices and living on the edge of society’s comfort zones.

While Murky Waters has bright spots, it’s for the most part an album that requires patience to decipher just exactly what Man Made Lake is aiming for. Lyrically, the songwriting could be tighter, with lines like “I want you/ and you want me/ lets dance, lets move/ my heart is free,” (from “An Unkindness”) along with other assorted clichés on rest of the album that invariably infect songs that could otherwise be quite strong. Looking past the less-than-subtle attempts at poetics though, there’s some catchy riffs and dreamy sections that warrant further listening–cuts like “Of We,” “Bourbon” and “Freeway” are the clearest windows into Man Made Lake’s vision.

The grittiness and honesty of Murky Waters suffers rather unfortunately at the hands of the production quality–it’s just a bit too loose and airy to really translate the capacity of the music. The drum sounds are thin, the guitars mostly tinny. There’s just so much potential with this band–it’s palpable in the vibe of the album, and in the emotion that does seep through–but one is left with the sentiment that Murky Waters almost hit the target, but not quite.

Lead singer and frontman Colin Craveiro manages to single-handedly reclaim Murky Waters from the above detriments though, with his fairly stunning vocal range and timbre that fits perfectly with the alt-rock style of Man Made Lake. Craveiro sounds a bit Bowie in many ways, and his strength as a singer begs to be showcased more clearly on this release. One is left wondering what a properly engineered, organic performance of these songs might yield–or indeed if Craveiro tried his hand at different genres. Nevertheless, Craveiro’s performances on Murky Waters are impressive.

Man Made Lake have made an enjoyable record, admittedly full of quirks, but a decent first outing. On further releases, it seems clear that just a little more attention to detail would yield a more solid and concise sound, but with Murky Waters, Man Made Lake indeed remain one of Vancouver Island’s “bands to watch.”

Noah Cebuliak is a Montréal-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who leads the indie-folk-pop trio Ghost Lights. He independently released his debut EP in November 2012. Check out

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