CD Review of Remind Me Where the Light Is by Great Northern
Great Northern: Remind Me Where the Light Is
Recommended if you like
Snow Patrol, Rilo Kiley, Beth Orton
Label
Eenie Meenie Records
Great Northern:
Remind Me Where the Light Is

Reviewed by Greg M. Schwartz

T
he second album from Rachel Stolte and Solon Bixler finds the Los Angeles duo continuing to perfect their striking sound of lush atmospherics, big hooks and soaring vocals. Stolte’s voice grabs the ear right away, but the dynamic sound that backs her moves Great Northern to a higher level that is a cut well above the norm.

"Story," "Houses" and "Fingers" open the album with a big sound that feels like it could play arenas just as easily as the clubs the band is touring now. There’s an upbeat brightness to the guitar-driven sound, yet it boasts a darker subtext with the layered vocals and panoramic accents that make for richer sonic vibes than standard pop fare.

"We dug deeper into the unpleasant, which helped us find the beauty," says Bixler, whose voice compliments Stolte’s well. The band has toured with the likes of the Silversun Pickups, Cold War Kids and Spoon, an indie/alt rock niche they fit right into.

Things drop down a notch with "Stop" and "New Tricks," with the former devolving into Coldplay melodramatic ballad territory as Bixler takes the lead on one of the album’s lesser tracks. Stolte is back up front on the latter for another moody ballad, although it’s of a spooky variety.

The album bounces way back up on "Mountain," with Stolte’s voice soaring once more as she sings about "lost souls" on one of the album’s most anthemic tracks. The driving beat and crescendoing guitars create a big sound. "Warning" features a change of pace with an electro beat and piano. Bixler starts off on lead vocal, but the track takes off when Stolte and the synthesizers join in.

"33" closes the album with a folkier sound, but one that builds into a big finale with strings and atmospheric keyboards that seem designed to close things out on a grand, almost Beatle-esque note.

Stolte and Bixler demonstrated the strength of their tunes and voices when they played a mid-afternoon set as an acoustic duo in the convention center café at Austin’s SXSW Festival in March. The sonic richness on Remind Me Where the Light Is defines the strength of the album, but the duo showed that the tunes are also strong enough to work on their own with just a pair of acoustic guitars – a clear sign of a talented act that is on the rise.

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