Lake Isle
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Lake Isle

Greensboro, North Carolina, United States | SELF

Greensboro, North Carolina, United States | SELF
Band Alternative Avant-garde




"The Lake Isle Preview New Track “Steel Rails”"

Last month i had the pleasure of listening to one of greensboro’s newer bands The Lake Isle play a set at The Green Bean. at the time my band was loading in, and admittedly my first concern wasn’t paying attention to a set by another band i hadn’t heard of. but i was caught off guard and pleasantly surprised and ended up really enjoying their set. on their blog they give themselves the “dream pop” label but i’m not sure that does them justice, they employ a lot of really beautiful and simultaneously nervous textures in their songs that challenge the “pop” part of that description and push them into alternative territory. additionally, their guitarist was getting some cool atmospheric tones with his POG2 pedal that i haven’t yet to figured out how to achieve. maybe he’ll give me some lessons.

yesterday, the band posted a new entry on their site previewing a new track entitled “Steel Rails.” like the first track “Virginia” (which you can listen to here) on their previous LP Terrible Beauties, “Steel Rails” uses spaced-out guitars to reinforce the nervous energy of the vocals, and when the drums & bass make their tight entrance, they round out the equation for a great listen. i was surprised at the sonic bigness of the sound they were able to achieve at the Green Bean, and that characteristic carries through on their recordings as well. check their myspace for more listening and show dates, including another appearance at the Green Bean in september with a cool band from winston. - Phuzz media

"Lake Isle Release "Wake Up" EP"

This past weekend my band had the privilege of sharing the bill yet again with Greensboro-based alternative rock group Lake Isle at the Green Bean in GSO. Back in August, I mentioned that Lake Isle were prepping a new EP to be released later this year, and gave a link to “Steel Rails,” a song they were previewing at the time. Well, “Steel Rails” now has a home on the band’s new Wake Up EP, just released this month.

Recorded by Ashley Powell in Greensboro and mastered by the revered Kitchen Mastering studio in Chapel Hill, Wake Up EP is the well-done recording Lake Isle deserve (and need) to showcase the clarity and complexity with which they approach their delicately-crafted songs. With 5 songs coming in at just over 20 minutes, Wake Up is a satisfying EP that successfully establishes on record the same attributes that Lake Isle convey in the live setting; Lake Isle write pop songs shrouded in melancholy, outfitted by detailed textures and led by Mark Doughtery’s smooth, unforced vocal that all sum up to a pleasantly ethereal listening experience.

“Steel Rails” is the rightful opener for the EP and sets the tone for the rest of the record. The other songs serve to explore different facets of the same central idea, and the sonic and tonal cohesion of Wake Up is much appreciated– each track feels like it’s right where it belongs.

The second track, “Anodyne,” is a patient slow-burner that benefits from it’s arrangement. The last 1:40 of the song are completely instrumental, which actually acts in the song’s favor. It’s not going to blow listeners away, but the song’s outro is likely to sneakily lull some into a kind of half-lit dreamscape.

One of the band’s strongest suits is their obvious experience in songcrafting. Though I didn’t check up on this, I’d be willing to wager that most of the band members have been in a number (if not a lot) of bands before forming Lake Isle, and the veteran experience is apparent. Each piece fits into the puzzle so nicely. The thing about Lake Isle is that they may have songs that are based on only 3 or 4 chords, but by the time guitarist Shawn Smith and bassist Chris Micca are done adding their layers of shimmering soundscapes and pulsating “musical heartbeats,” those 3 or 4 chords sound more robust than you’d realize.

As a guitarist my ear is constantly drawn to Shawn Smith’s talent for constructing sounds. There are moments in the title-track “Wake Up” that sound like The Edge on Joshua Tree, and then there are moments of fuzzed-out dissonance that could be a trick out of Jonny Greenwood’s book. But don’t mistake Shawn for a simple lifter of other people’s sounds. While the use of effects is a crutch for some, Smith commands them as tools at his disposal to achieve an overarching ideal.

The first time I heard Lake Isle they reminded me of The National. Now admittedly, I was listening to High Violet pretty intensely at the time, but I think it’s a valid reference point, and I think a large portion of that can be accredited to the controlled dynamics and technical steadiness of the band’s rhythm section. Both in a live setting and on record, bassist Chris Micca and drummer Andy Foster are the definition of calculated restraint; it’s obvious that the two of them could break their self-imposed mold at any moment, but instead their choice to provide stability as the group’s backbone proves to be a discipline that grounds the band. That doesn’t mean that the rhythm section lacks soul, however. While Lake Isle may not be the project to showcase Micca and Foster’s technical prowess, the confidence and precision with which they fit their bass and drum parts together speaks volumes beyond the explicit notes they play.

On top of all of the nuanced complexity that’s to be found on the EP, it’s a relief that vocalist Mark Doughtery sounds so comfortable on these songs. Throughout the record he spends most of his lines in his lower register, and that’s okay, because this band isn’t about emotional firepower; I would say it’s more about emotional subtlety. Doughtery’s voice embodies the mood of their songs by remaining a calm presence through the ebb and flow of their songs’ dynamics. Lake Isle’s website references Morrissey as a vocal influence on Doughtery, and I don’t think the final result is too far off.

At the end of the day, Wake Up is a grower (as most of my favorite albums are). Not because of a lack of tangible hooks or interesting musical parts, but because it takes time to really get what the band are doing. Lake Isle choose to develop their songs on their on terms, and it’s a rewarding experience for those who give them the listens they deserve. Go see them live, and pick up a copy of Wake Up while you’re at it. It will only get better from there. - Phuzz media

"A Band of Brothers - Lake Isle creates something 'magical and great'"

by Carole Perkins

Mark Dougherty reaches over the table to pet an 80-pound mutt as the three members of his band, The Lake Isle, sit politely waiting their turn to speak.

Dougherty, a Greensboro-based singer/songwriter has declined a one-on-one interview. He has performed alone too long, finally finding peace and unity in this band of brothers.

After years of playing Greensboro as a solo act, Dougherty yearned to be in a band.

Once his music label fell apart, Dougherty began playing with an acoustic group that saw early success.

So Dougherty moved on with a firmer resolve to take his music more seriously.

That eventually led to Dougherty reinventing himself.

“I gave myself a rebirth under the name The Lake Isle, after Yeats’ poem about a man searching for his inner peace in a world of chaos — the theme of all my music,” Dougherty says.

He had a band name. Now, all he needed was some members. And on a night last spring, he found the first one.

That’s when Dougherty met Shawn Smith, drummer for Filthybird, which was playing its last gig together.

One of the band members mentioned that Dougherty was looking for a group so Smith approached him, and they started playing.

Smith recorded Dougherty’s guitar and vocals and later added drums, bass and keyboards.

“I had no real direction in mind, just trying to let things float out of me, and we kind of created a sound,” Smith says. “We tried a few guitar players, but they weren’t willing to take that leap into that sonic realm.”

Hoping to make the songs more interesting, Smith decided to play guitar himself.

Andy Foster, formerly with the Raving Knaves and Manamid, came on board as a percussionist. Chris Micca, a longtime bass player and backup vocalist to bands such as Crystal Bright, completed the group.

During a recent rehearsal, Foster can’t constrain himself between songs, ripping his drums every chance he gets.

“Andy’s a loud drummer and we will have to base everything behind that,” Smith deadpans.

Foster’s sticks clack as Dougherty steps to the mike to sing the lyrics to the haunting “Steel Rails,” the first track on the band’s new album, “Wake Up.”

“I should know, oh I should
that it’s all about letting go
but these old ways, oh they burn
these lies that come over and over me.”

With Micca’s expansive harmonies and tight thumping bass, the band is creating the “warm, sonic pallet,” that fuels Dougherty.

Micca and Foster exchange smiles as the song ends.

“The songs get better and better all the time, especially the new ones,” Smith says. “It’s working, it’s really working.

“S’working,” Foster says, nodding.

Dougherty says the difference in being in a band like The Lake Isle versus playing solo is that there is no agenda other than to play the music.

“It’s about looking around at every person practicing music in this room and seeing a look in their eyes that says they love this music.

“I call it a brotherhood. It’s something really magical and great.” - News & Record GoTriad

"The Perm and the Skullet"

I was really excited when a fellow North Carolinian emailed me with music. Normally it’s searching the web, looking all around the US and overseas for music I may like, but it’s nice when someone in your own backyard gets some exposure and even better when they contact me directly.

Mark Dougherty is out of Greensboro, North Carolina and he plays a clever blend of acoustic music. You know that really great soft song on every indie rock album, the one that you wish there was more of, well Dougherty succeeds on creating an album full of them. In the vein of Mark Kozelek and the Red House Painters, the first thing I noticed when listening to Mark’s music was his skills as a songwriter. You can tell from the first few lines that he is a poet at heart as he pours his soul for all to hear. The instrumentation on the album is equally impressive as it provides the perfect backdrop for Dougherty’s vocals to shine.

While his previous lp, Shadows In The Light, plays more to the acoustic folk side, his most recent release, In Dreams, is a perfect blend of an enriched acoustic sound and the subtle touches of a studio atmosphere. Mark wanted to play off the theme of dreams, what’s experienced when we dream and how they clue us into our inner life. In Dreams is a great listen and below is a track from each of his releases with links to purchase. - TPATS

"Grading papers, writing songs, pondering life’s journeys"

By Jennie Thompson

At this strange time of year, between winter and spring, between cool stone and renaissance, it is quite easy to lose direction in one’s own skull. Such is the music of Mark Dougherty. A singer-songwriter originally from New Jersey, Dougherty has shaped his songs in Greensboro for the past five years. Recently, he has been long at work on a new release, “Anodyne,” available on iTunes and eMusic.

“Vocally, lyrically, musically, it’s a notch above my other albums,” Dougherty says. The other albums, “In Dreams” and “Shadows in the Light,” are delicate and intricate masterworks already.

Dougherty’s vocals are a mix of Ryan Adams, Ron Sexsmith and Damien Rice, but his attempts to understand people are strikingly direct and empowered. And the arrangements of songs like “Anodyne” and “Maria” create their own worlds, atmospheres of sound. Overall, his sound is more nuanced than Adams or Rice — it swirls and flies out of the stereo.

Sadly, we may have to be patient for a live performance from Dougherty. He works as a seventh-grade teacher by day, which allows for plenty of play in the summer but not so much during the school year. Luckily, this hasn’t put his composing process on hold.

“I’ll have my guitar and start to strum. I’ll start seeing a couple of words. I don’t know what it’s about until it’s over,” he says. “The moment I feel satisfied, it’s done.”

For instance, with “Maria,” a pleading love song that implies in its tone a great deal of disconnect, Dougherty offers that “an ideal relationship found itself in that song.”

Many other ideas and influences find themselves in his music as well. Sure, Radiohead’s soft crying, Wilco’s thick layering, but even the mood and thoughtfulness of one of Dougherty’s favorite authors, Herman Hesse, finds its place.

Last spring, Dougherty found a place at Lost Cat Records, an indie label that supports the British band Additional Moog and American balladeer Lee Tyler Post.

Personally, however, Dougherty’s artistic self-discovery was years in the making.”I was a huge basketball player until I was 14, but once I got that guitar, things were put into place. It was like, ‘Oh, yes,’ (I’m) finding my own sound,” he said.

Essentially, his music makes an effort to locate the self, “to write about the journeys we’re on in life.”

This is a mission much needed and gently, if not straightaway, completed.

- Go Triad

"Dougherty Makes Introspective DIY Folk"

By Jordan Green

Dougherty is decompressing on this Tuesday evening after a full day of teaching seventh graders how to construct sentences at Southeast Middle School and then meeting for more than an hour with his fellow instructors to discuss how to handle a lockdown in the event of something unthinkable, like the Amish school shootings that took place in Pennsylvania the week before.

He’s also a prolific songwriter with a record deal and the goods to show for the promise: two albums released in the space of four months. Shadows In the Light and In Dreams, respectively released on May 9 and Sept. 1 on Atlanta’s Lost Cat Records, came about as a result of label head Jerry Jodice running across Dougherty’ s recordings on the internet and including them in his “Great American Music Hour” podcast.

When he contacted Lost Cat, which specializes in offbeat singer songwriters and Americana artists, Dougherty reports that Jodice didn’t need much persuasion to add him to the roster. The resulting two albums reveal an artist with a vocal range capable of conveying emotional subtlety, a lyricist with keen phrasing abilities and a songwriter deeply immersed in philosophy and literature.

“Because I’m an English teacher I take a lot of inspiration from the classical poets,” Dougherty says. “William Butler Yeats’ ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’ is alluded to in ‘Hallelujah.’

That composition was released on Shadows In the Light. The songs that comprise In Dreams were inspired by Sandman, the groundbreaking comic book series created by artist Neil Gaiman in the 1980s and ’90s. At the recommendation of his girlfriend, Dougherty picked up the comics and was soon unwittingly incorporating Gaiman’s mythology in his own work.

“The songs all of a sudden just started relating to it,” he says. “This was a fast process. I’m continually writing. You see a lot of artists where it sometimes takes years to put out a CD, and I’ve never been like that. The music part is the easy part. The challenge is to find a base of listeners.”

Dougherty finds himself alienated from the music scene in Greensboro with its preponderance of cover bands, flamboyant guitar rock outfits and other derivative entertainments. Aesthetically he identifies more with the Chapel Hill scene and the Triangle’s Merge Records, with its pop avant-garde stable of artists such as the Arcade Fire and the Clientele.

Dougherty credits Crosby Stills Nash & Young and Van Morrison with starting him down the singer-songwriter path. Van Morrison, he says, “has the most true-to-life lyrics, but they pull on your heartstrings.”

The introspection and moodiness of Dougherty’s songs, not to mention the technical command he maintains over his vocal instrument, also bring to mind folksingers Tim Hardin and Tim Buckley. However, Dougherty’s positive life outlook contrasts with the self-destructive arc traced by the two Tims who struggled against personal demons during careers launched in the turbulent 1960s, and each ultimately died of heroin overdoses.

Where Hardin and Buckley struggled with rotating casts of talented session musicians to get their vision on record, Dougherty has the 21st century advantage of being able to record his songs on a Macintosh computer in his bedroom, playing every instrument himself.

“If I was a musician thirty years ago, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing right now even though the music I do was a style that was popular then,” he says.

The downside is translating the recorded songs to a live setting. ”I have a setback in that I am a singular musician,” Dougherty says. “In Dreams has a full band sound, and no matter what, it’s going to sound different live with just me and an acoustic guitar.”

- Yes! Weekly


‘Wake Up’ – a 5 track EP recorded in August 2010 and was released in November 2010. Recorded by Ashley Powell of Greensboro, NC and mastered by Kitchen Mastering, 189 Brewer Lane, Carrboro, NC.



We are a 'band of brothers', four dedicated musicians who’ve been at it for a while: Mark Dougherty (singer/songwriter), Shawn Smith (Filthybird/ Citified), Andy Foster and Chris Micca. Lake Isle takes its name and inspiration from the Yeats’ poem, “The Lake Isle of Innisfree.”

Mark Doughtery played solo in his hometown of Greensboro, NC, from 2005 to 2009, with his collection of original songs and acoustic guitar until the universe conspired with him to create a band. In late 2009, Shawn Smith became lead guitarist and helped to develop Lake Isle's unique sound of post-alternative “dream pop”. Andy Foster, a strong drummer with roots in punk rock, and Chris Micca, on bass guitar and a veteran of the Bay Area music scene, joined Lake Isle to complete the band’s lineup in early 2010. They are the absolute musical heartbeat of Lake Isle.

The sounds they make blur the acoustic styling of Mojave 3, the lyrical work of Sun Kil Moon and the vocal prowess of Morrissey. Add to that Lake Isle’s blend of lush guitars, expansive harmonies and dreamy atmospherics. Doughterty’s lyrics take inspiration from a mix of observations and experiences, classic literature and the evolution of humanity. Each Lake Isle song climbs and holds at a seemingly endless crescendo, and it’s hard to stand still when the band plays. They buckle the knees of grown men, who start dancing solo in front of the stage.