21 September 2014

The Good For Naughts - No Great War, album review

The Good For Naughts are a Canadian folk-rock / alt-country band with a brilliant big band sound and an awful lot to say. I stumbled across these guys by accident and decided that I absolutely must review the album. So here it is!

It's quite rare that I hear a studio recorded album that manages to maintain the liveliness and oomph that only a live show can usually put across. But this record succeeds in achieving that sound.

The album itself is only ten tracks long. This doesn't sound like much but the songs are quite lengthy and there's an awful lot of quality content in there.

The title track begins with a delicate, fingerpicked waltz. Just two guitars and a tambourine before it picks up with a huge cymbal crash and the rest of the band. We've got some harmonica, some slide guitar, some electric organ, and of course the brilliant vocals from James Murray.

This first track is a very captivating piece of music, filled with passion and a message that is not to be taken lightly. The same can be said for the rest of the album too. But I'll let you listen and take note of that for yourself.

The second track picks up with a very country-esque style to it. The organ taking a large portion of the sound, alongside the funky bass line. What a fantastic combination!

It is apparent when listening to the album that the band had set out to create a very grounded representation of the traditional aspects of their work. Many traditional instruments feature in a few of the songs on the album, including mandolin and accordion, on top of the harmonica, slide and organ that we've already heard. But these instruments have been used with a good dose of creative licence to create a contemporary sound, making the album radio friendly and very current. It's like the band is giving a big nod to the musicians of the past, saying 'thanks for giving us great history and great ground to base our music upon, we're gonna take it into our own hands now and transform this thing into something new.'

And I tell you now. This music is in good hands.

There's great diversity in the album too. It slows right down halfway through, giving the listener a much needed break from the very upbeat, energy filled songs of the first half. And just as we're beginning to have enough of the 3/4 melancholy, it soon picks right back up again.

Track 5, Pills and Booze is a very cliche break-up story, which I usually tend to steer away from. But it's so catchy, upbeat and as silly as it might sound, kind of hopeful!
'I'm not saying there's no hope, I've just reached the end of my rope, and you keep tugging on the noose.' It's quite sincere I know, but not all hope is lost! Right?

Anyway, what I'm trying to get at, is that this entire record handles sensitive and very real issues, while managing to maintain a positive spin on things, leaving the listener feeling really quite optimistic and inspired by the end of the album.

There are moments in the album where there is perhaps a little too much cheese for me. Some of the lyrics here and there have been heard a hundred times before in music. The fade out solos are too much for me too. I really hate fade outs. But I'm going to forgive the band for that because at the end of the day, if the lyrics and the music do the job and portray the emotion and receive the reaction that was intended, then somethings been done right!

And that's why I'm giving the record five stars.
You can stream and buy there album via the widget above.

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