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Great Northern: Coiled Energy, Unleashed

If there's a single word that can sum up Great Northern's "Houses," it's probably "urgency." From start to finish, the song is shot through with a sense that it can't reach its destination quickly enough, beginning with the inexorable thumping of the kick drum and chords that spin around in a disorienting swirl. By the time singer Rachel Stolte joins in, she's pushing the words out of her throat just a little faster than would be necessary for her voice to soothe the way it seems it should.

Then, with seemingly nowhere for the built-up tension to go, comes the chorus, which pours out like a dam bursting. The sound rushes out in a torrent, but even that's not enough to dissipate all the coiled energy. So Great Northern returns, back to where it started but not quite the same as it was at the outset. Meanwhile, the kick drum just keeps thumping away with its inertia unabated, and the song presses on.

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Marc Hirsh lives in the Boston area, where he indulges in the magic trinity of improv comedy, competitive adult four square and music journalism. He has won trophies for one of these, but refuses to say which.