Music fans of the Pacific Northwest, hello and welcome back to our third annual year-end daily countdown, 100 Bands in 100 Days, where every day until December 31st, we’re showcasing a new band or artist you have to know about, presented by Verity Credit Union. Follow the #100Bands100Days hashtag on Twitter to stay on top of all the bands featured and make sure to follow Verity on Twitter as well. Some days the featured act could be an established and locally-adored northwest-based musician that perhaps you haven’t been turned onto yet, and other times they could be a band with a small following that just hasn’t had their deserved time in the sun yet. Either way, we’re fairly confident you can come away from this daily segment with plenty of new favorites. Today’s local band comes to us from Portland, and is one of the most exciting fresh faces we’ve had the pleasure of discovering this year, The Late Great!
Music that subtly explores the darker side of indie guitar-pop isn’t a new or jaw-dropping concept, but it isn’t often you see a new face in this style bust right out of the gate with as much prowess and charm as The Late Great. Fronted by singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sarah Lane, The Late Great takes the concept of the demure, sunshiny northwest indie pop band and defies expectations of what you might expect to be the stylistic limitations of this ever-popular style of music. Don’t let the cheery demeanor of songs like “Die” and “Easy” fool you; beneath the warm, fuzzy guitar and Lane’s easygoing and endearing vocal delivery lies intense feelings of sadness, longing and regret. The Late Great may be easy to label as dream pop, but their songs more evoke the feeling of being up at night, trying to drift off to sleep, but your mind is too occupied by forlorn reminiscing and yearning to fully get there. A bulk of the band’s material shoots for a dark and overcast sound, a sound that fans of ’90s melancholic guitar-pop acts like Mazzy Star and Slowdive (think the more heartbroken Souvlaki tracks) will be instantly taken by.
The Late Great’s debut LP, Easy, was released independently in August of this year, and despite being one of the most tragically under-the-radar releases of the year, still remains a bold and emotionally rich collection of indie pop songs. Just from a sonic standpoint, Easy is an intoxicating record; the haze its fuzzed-out guitar tones and vast Wurlitzer synthesizers create pull you in and will make you never want to leave. Sarah Lane’s vocals, melancholic though they may be, have a strong personality to their delivery, and her lyrics manage to evoke and convey her deepest internal sadness without being too obvious or saccharine, a mark many in this style seem to miss. The sub-33-minute record likes to deceive its listeners somewhat, putting its sunniest and happiest-sounding tracks at the beginning of the record, giving you the impression that it’s going to hang in this halcyon for its entire duration, before falling further and further into the rabbit hole of depression as it progresses. The Late Great is one of the best bands around today when it comes to taking these two opposite ends of the emotional spectrum and managing to pull both off sincerely and effectively.
You can follow The Late Great on Facebook, and listen to their music through soundcloud.com/the-late-great. Purchase Easy digitally through iTunes. Stream the music video for the LP’s title track below via YouTube.