By: Greg Gargiulo
Great Northern probably won't take your ears captive the instant their music first resonates through. They lack that immediate grasp that can leave you wanting nothing other than to cling to each subsequent note in wait of the next taste of ecstasy. Rather, they're the type of stuff you need to let seep in through the cracks and run its course before making a decisive call. Marinate on their melodies a bit, soak up some of their versatile vocals, and there are a number of pleasantly shocking moments to be had on Remind Me Where The Light Is (released April 28 on Eenie Meenie).
For most tracks on their sophomore album, the L.A-based quintet - whose two primary and founding members, Rachel Stolte and Solon Bixler, handle the vocal duties - play off of distant echoes and repeated phrasings to design a dimmed moodscape to drive their points across. Using distorted, spacey guitar riffs and tempos that usually take their time to ascend, develop and swell, the effect is mainly subduing, often thoughtful and, at points, inspiring. But, it's in the back-and-forth interplay between Stolte and Bixler - at times sounding like a troubled couple, while at others, two like-minded souls promoting a concept in conjunction - where Great Northern flourishes, thus removing themselves from the seemingly bottomless pot of generic indie acts out there. Take "Fingers," where Stolte charges the first cycle of lines on loss and rebuilding, then Bixler hops in with his own supplemental angle, repeating, "It's the weight of the world on your shoulders," throughout its entirety. Continually changing their rotation of lead and backup such as they do here, they offer two personal perspectives - whether in agreement or discord - on the same subject matter, giving a nearly-equal male/female balance that never comes off as forced.
"Numbers," defined by creepy, airy background settings, a bellowing bass and a pounding tom-tom rhythm, features Stolte in a Madonna-like howl, throwing caution at those who subscribe to the notion that the safe, conventional route will get you far. Instead of striving to adapt to the masses and add to our load of inconsequential acquaintances, "Maybe we're all just waiting for one beautiful friend," she muses. Slow-to-rise "Warning," unexpected electro beat and all, also poses a sort of advisory, suggesting keenness to the imminent signs of progressively drifting away from someone near.
It might take two or three hearty listens to fully catch the drift of Remind Me, and even then they likely won't be singeing any ear hairs. Yet a careful dissection can no doubt yield latent treats if given the time.
JamBase | Patient
Go See Live Music!