Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Blog Swap: Austin Sound

(As part of our ongoing collaboration with our friends at Austin Sound and Skyline, we present this month's edition of blog swap, courtesy of Austin Sound's Doug Freeman. We'll be posting an article of ours over at Skyline some time soon, and we'll switch it up again next month. The following is an Austin Sound review of an album by the Golden Boys.)

The Golden Boys – Goodbye Country (Monofonus)
By Doug Freeman

Over the past few years, the Golden Boys have fostered their reputation as the apex of Austin bar bands, at least in the sense they will drink anyone under the table and unload one of the most raucous live shows while doing it. The quintet's fourth LP evidences the epitome of that sound – loose, unrepentant, and gritty – while also improving on the best elements of last year's Whiskey Flower. And the title, Goodbye Country, couldn't be more apt, for though some traces of their rootsier sound still survive, overall the album is garagy and rocking, with more emphasis on the sloppy psychedelic roll that they've pummeled into perfection

Opener "Mine Like a Diamond" surges forth with a massive drum beat, flash of horns, swirling organ, and huge riffs, while Matthew Hoopengardner vocals shout out with a rough swagger. The dip into a psychedelic haze near the end sets up everything to follow – the songs are built on immaculately infectious pop hooks, but always with an unexpected digression or edge. The ragged chorus of "Big Money" sounds like Hoopengardner's about to fall face first on the floor, but is held up by the punchy female call and response and sheer velocity of the tune. When he drops into the slurry soul bridge, he couldn't sound more unhinged or desperate – like the Rolling Stones drowned in a river of whiskey.

It's not all simply fast and lax though; the Boys clearly know what they're doing, and they do it without equal. The insane crash and burn of chaotic horns and guitars that continually interrupts "Pharmacy" cuts a straightforward rocker into some inebriated and dosed-up netherworld that finally ends with the odd call out to "Lucifer!" But those moments are offset by the easy sway of "James the Gentle Giant", deceptively simple garage pop that bursts into a kind of Mott the Hoople anthemic power, and "The Box", which lulls with darkly psych rhythms behind verses drawn with an eerily nasal croon reminiscent of the Violent Femmes.

Equally divergent though is the Tom Waits growl and accordion bounce of "Wrong and Right" set against the lazy lope and mournful dirge of "Shell of Some Guy," which slowly moves into an epic Pixies-esque crescendo. And closer "It's Not You, It's Me," is so brilliantly uncorked and haphazard that it scuffs its retro-prom pop with fake vinyl hisses and actually scratches itself off in mid-song. But undoubtedly the best offering on the album is the throbbing country-rocker of "Shortcut to Memphis," joining the disproportionate number of amazing tunes about the city. In fact, it's from Memphis that the GB's are appropriately given praise by former Tav Falco drummer Ross Johnson in the liner notes, and he may sum up the band best: "So shaddup and listen to the sound of some young men from Austin, Texas who are trying to lower standards for everyone everywhere. So far they've succeeded admirably."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

the golden boys suck

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i don't want to hear about austin

3:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

were golden boys any good opening for butthole surfers last month? i thought that they were lucky to get on that show.

4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


4:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

austin.... overrated. in other news...

6:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, they were.

7:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

laughably horrible.

9:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm so glad everyone else is as over austin as i am.

carry on.

10:49 PM  
Anonymous msamantham said...

cheers to wes coleman and the golden boys!

12:01 AM  
Anonymous Citizen Polack said...

1. Born before the 80's.
2. Play guitars in a somewhat "traditional manner".
3. Songs
4. Melody
4. Lack of current style ironic garb.
5. Familiarity with history of popular music.
6. Minimal use of electronics and/or gimmicks.

Yeah...the Golden Boys suck by your standards.

8:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice observation!

2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

citizen polack, wow are you stupid.

1. Okay. You realize a lot of people born after '80 are pretty much thirty now. Is that old enough for you?
2. What? Wasn't Bo Diddley criticized for not playing in a "traditional manner?" You think Mahavishnu Orchestra played in a "traditional manner?" How about Bob Dylan going electric? How about This Heat? Sonic Youth thirty years ago? Velvet Underground forty years ago? This is the stupidest shit I've ever heard.
3. Songs? Weird. What are those?
4. Melody. You know what's funny? All these people that talk about "melody" can never write one. I'm not joking. It's tragic.
4. "Current style ironic garb." Oh, okay. So when the Golden Boys wear V-necks, pearl snaps, and tacky thrift store shirts, it's NOT ironic. They MEAN that shit, man.
5. What's funny is that if you had any familiarity with the history of popular music, you wouldn't have written this ignorant list. Most 19 year-olds sound smarter than you.
6. Okay, tell that to Pink Floyd and The Beatles, Radiohead, The Cars, Bjork, Queen, Blondie etc. I mean you like "popular music," right?
7. Funny coming from somebody that would write a Texas A&M student's list of do's and don'ts in music. Pretty pretentious. I'm so glad that this decade has sucked so much for people like you.

PS- You put the number 4 twice, causing me to have to do the same. Learn to count, you Mick jagger dick-sucking, rock and roll cowboy piece of dogshit.

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Citizen Polack said...


10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i've always said c.polack is A. a r'n'r cowboy piece of dogshit. and B. a m.jagger cock-lover. that's old news...

5:55 PM  
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