In this day and age with a million things jockeying for our attention and discretionary dollars, a band has to think of creative ways to cut through the clutter to promote itself and its new releases. Los Angeles-based dream-pop act Great Northern and its label, eenie meanie records, have come up with a novel approach to drum up advance interest in Remind Me Where The Light Is, the band's sophomore set, due April 28. Great Northern has been counting down the days until the album streets with a series of arty video clips, featuring snippets of music from the new album. Check out one of the clips below, featuring the song "Stop."
As you might have noted in that video, sometimes even the best-laid plans go slightly awry. The first clip, titled "106 Days And Counting," noted the album's release date at 4/19/09, but things have changed. For those keeping track, the correct release date is--as stated above--April 28. If you don't want to wait that long, you can get a hold of a single from the new album on Record Store Day at a number of cool indie record shops. The band will celebrate the album's forthcoming release by giving away a free canvas tote bag and a 7-inch single of "Houses" backed with the non-album track "For Weeks," but get there early. There are only 1,000. For the list of participating retailers, click here, and while you're at it, check out another countdown clip for Remind Me Where The Light Is, this one featuring "House," which somehow manages to be simultaneously grooving and haunting.
While all this whiz-bang marketing is interesting and all, I wouldn't give a hoot if the music wasn't good. Great Northern, which is essentially singer/songwriter Solon Bixler, and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Rachel Stolte and an evolving cast of sidemen, formed in 2005. Prior to forming Great Northern, Bixler had put together and impressive musical resume that includes stints with 30 Seconds To Mars and Earlimart, while Stolte, who also has worked as an actress, played in a band called Whirlpool. The pair decided to join forces at a 2003 Elliott Smith show. The band's debut effort, Trading Twilight For Daylight, was released in 2007 to much acclaim. It was followed in 2008 with the Sleepy Eepee. Check out the video for "Home," a track from Trading Twilight For Daylight.
Like many indie bands these days, Great Northern has turned to television and advertising placements as a way to make money from its music and gain exposure. The band's song "Home" was featured in a Nissan ad and in the film 21. Another track, "Low Is Height," turned up in promos for the NBA and was featured on Bones. More recently, the song "Driveway," from the new album, was featured on Grey's Anatomy. Here's another Great Northern countdown clip. This one features the track "Snakes."
One of my favorite things about Great Northern is the fact that in Bixler and Stolte the band has two capable lead vocalists, each with their own distinct sound. They remind me a bit of Downy Mildew, a band that released several albums during from the mid-'80s through mid-90s and then disappeared. Like Great Northern, Downy Mildew played a folk-influenced dream-pop steeped in melancholy. Bands with that kind of sound and depth don't come around every day, so I urge you go get in the spirit of Great Northern's countdown and support them while they're here. Pick up Remind Me Where The Light Is and catch them live on tour throughout the U.S. in May while you can. I think Great Northern is a band worth being reminded about. How about you?