A Winter Downpour: Oh, This Pleasant Lake

Paul Whyte

A Winter Downpour has long been described as “sad bastard music” and for the most part, it is. The band is led by Alberto Serrno Rivera, along with Paul Connelly on guitar, Ken Nyberg on Drums, and Kevin Zak on bass. Their sophomore album “Oh, This Pleasant Lake” continues their “sad bastard” legacy and takes it another step. 

A Winter Downpour as been around since 2010, and that’s long enough for me to have realized some of the obvious comparisons that have been made about this band. This particular album kind of sounds like some lost tracks from a collaboration between The Cure, The Smiths, The Shins, and some influence from Sonic Youth. There’s a certain note of honesty to this album and perhaps that’s why it seems a little raw at times. 

I’ll say straight up that this is not a perfect album, but did they mean for it to be? I’m not sure if it’s the MP3 version I’m listening to, but it leaves me wondering where it was recorded. I’m also not sure if Rivera’s vocals are meant to have a some insecurity due to the material or if they just stuck with the first track that seemed like it would cut it. Now that I got past the couple things about the album I’m uncertain on, I’ll take a look at some of the things I liked. 

I think my favorite thing about the album is some of the melodic achievements on the guitar. While Rivera sings some rather melodramatic lyrics, the layers of guitar emphasize the emotional content overall, and much like a lot of shoegazey, kind of emo music, yes, there’s some genuine feeling that arises at times. 

When it comes to the guitar work, I think the instrumental track “Silver Fox” stands out, as an instrumental track should. This moody jam out shells out plenty of swirling guitar effects accenting the parts picked out on the acoustic by Rivera. 
When the album gets into songs like “Ms. Dropp” and “Wake Up Drunk” really comes on strong with the Morrissey feel. “Ms. Dropp” being sadder and more desperate. “Wake Up Drunk” having a more steady rock element. “Drink the blood of Christ, eat his flesh too, because me child someday you’ll be like me,” sings Rivera. 

There is certainly a bit of regret, apologies, and a fair amount of emotional trauma that is scattered about in this album. It stays in those parts where people can relate, but it’s certainly dealing with some of those really no fun parts of life. Songs like “Sorry” and “PTSD” certainly make it clear that it’s not a really happy album. It stops short of being overly miserable, and I think that has a lot to do with the driving edges of pop and rock that somehow keep the album moving. 

A Winter Downpour will be releasing this new album on Friday, June 30 with The Social Disaster, Lion or Gazelle at Red Herring Lounge. The live version of these songs are likely to be pretty powerful. 


Paul Whyte

A South Shore native and University of Wisconsin-Superior journalism graduate. Lifelong musician, and former open mic host. Passionate about the music scene and politics.

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