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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
How Good We Had It
Bi Focal Media

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Goner delivers moog/keyboard driven pop music that is a little less dorky than many of the bands in that genre. This is perhaps because their lyrical subject matter is usually not trite and stupid. The group apparently isn't made up of geeky squares delivering another dose of quirky rock, and for this we all should be thankful, as there are far too many of those bands anyway.

Anyone who checks out the band Goner will come away with a newfound appreciation for keyboards in their rock music. A three piece of drums, bass, and keys, Goner could certainly benefit from the addition of a guitar to their sound, if only to give How Good We Had It some much needed beef and density. But all is not lost; the band makes the most of their stripped down setup, the lack of guitar serving to give the keys that much more of a spotlight and making even the most somber of songs have an underlying cutesy quality.

The drawback is that the band's chirpy keyboard melodies can tread a bit too near the realm of repetitive by album's end, and if the trio chooses to stick with the same keyboard/drum/bass formula for the duration of their existence then they will definitely need to infuse a little more rock into their sound. Perhaps the addition of a keytar instead of boring regular keys would give them the added rock attitude? Because the 80's are like totally back, and the keytar would help fuel the revival in their music. Right?

Even with that saucy 80's flavor lacking, it is impossible to ignore the fact that some of the songs from How Good We Had It are downright enjoyable and good. The opener "Whatever Day It Is" is a nice stomper of a song that, despite my protestations, stayed in my head for a long while. "Lake Geneva IL" is a sugar coated, hyper bouncing track that comes off strongly, all frazzle-dazzle and self-assuredness. The keyboard adds a great deal to these two (and other) tracks, infusing them with energy and fun-ness.

Of course every coin has two heads, or sides, rather, and the more somber efforts on How Good We Had It suffer at the hands of the very energy and fun-ness that simultaneously make it a romp. Goner's moments of introspection and melancholy seem diluted and half-hearted because of the reliance on the keys. While the vibe seems to be saying that everything is a mess the keyboards are still chirping along, making it hard to not think that everything is going to be all right in the end. "Jessica's Song" is a great example: it sounds like it would be a sincere and earnest song, but yet the addition of keys to the background makes it sound almost cartoonish, really undermining any resonance the track might have had.

Goner has proven that the lack of guitar is a nice way to differentiate themselves from a slew of like minded indie-pop acts, but it is not wholly advantageous. How Good We Had It is a disc full of highs and lows. The group knows how to write a decent song, but if you don't like your keyboard in your indie you won't make it long. How Good We Had It is an album that I would say is pretty alright, all things considered.

Reviewed by Dan Williams
A staff writer based in Brooklyn, New York, Dan Williams is a frequent contributor to LAS magazine. He once lived in Köln, Germany for a semester, is currently persuing his MBA in New York, and recently switched sides and began working as a publicist for Special Ops Media in New York.

See other reviews by Dan Williams



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