By Greg PrattA recent email newsletter from prairie rock titans the Weakerthans announced that bassist Greg Smith had released a new solo album, The Northern Elation, out under the moniker Greg Smith Sounds. A bit of online searching reveals that the album has in fact been available over at Zunior.com since October of last year. However, as Smith tells Exclaim! in a recent interview, not only was there never an official release date for the album, but even saying it ever "came out" is a stretch.
"Well, 'it came out' is kind of..." he laughs, trailing off. "It's on Zunior.com, no one's picked it up or anything. I've just been kind of mailing it out whenever I've heard that somebody would be interested in it, or to campus stations and whatnot. It's just kind of drifting along, slowly getting noticed. Did it come out last year? It was done last year. I've never had a press release or any kind of release party or anything like that."
While it's strange to see a member of such a high-profile band as the Weakerthans doing something so low profile, the reality of the situation was just that Smith was too busy to promote it himself, as he didn't have a label backing him up, despite the album being a charming mix of Canadiana rock and quirky indie fare.
"I don't have a publicist, I don't have a label, I don't have anything like that," he says. "So it's just whatever I can get done between Weakerthans gigs, and I play with other bands, too, picking up gigs here and there. So whenever I have time I try to do some solo shows and tell people about it."
Like a lot of the songs from his day job - who in January recorded The Falcon Lake Experiment, an album backing up singer-songwriter and occasional Weakerthans live collaborator Jim Bryson - some of the material on The Northern Elation just reeks of Canada. Smith says that wasn't a goal, but he does hope that it's the case.
"It just comes through with the music I listen to, the art I like, where I live," he says of the album's Canadian sound. "A lot of these tunes were written in a farm out by Peterborough, ON, in the middle of winter. Then I built everything up in various locations after that, bit by bit, whenever I had time. Maybe it comes through in the lyrical references too. I don't know, but I'm glad it comes through. It's where I live."
Smith says he's getting a backing band together in hopes of making it out west in September and October for a solo tour. In the meantime, folks heading out to the Winnipeg Folk Festival in July will be able to see the Weakerthans performing live with Jim Bryson.
Head here to buy The Northern Elation, which follows Smith's previous solo album Hot As a Lemon.
The Northern Elation:
1. "The Northern Elation" 2. "The Honey Fandangos the Bee" 3. "Bound Your Love" 4. "The Perfect Wound" 5. "Coda" 6. "The Latest Disease" 7. "The Scene" 8. "The Chicken and the Crow" 9. "If Only there were Roses" 10. "The House Upon the Hill" 11. "The Beautiful Jape" 12. "The Bad Dreamers" 13. "Melon and the Trees"