The Stand GT - Good on the River
"Good on the River," by The Stand GT, is an
interesting case. At first glance, I wasn't looking
forward to listening to it. The cover art wasn't
exciting, and the song titles didn't do much for me.
this probably sounds pretty superficial, and it is.
I'm a superficial guy. Which really only reflects
badly on me...a lack of real self-esteem, my analyst
says, which is also the reason why I need to, for
instance, make music reviews seem to be as much about
me as they are about the album.
But the thing is, when you review CDs, and when most
of them are crappy, and when a lot of the crappy ones
look the same way, you start to associate that
particular look with crappiness. Which is why "Good
on the River" came as a surprise.
The info sent along with the CD *did* offer the
interesting note that the band was befriended by Kurt
Bloch of the Fastbacks. The Fastbacks have long held
a special place in my heart, ever since one of my
college friends who doesn't talk to me anymore loaned
me his copy of "Answer the Phone, Dummy." Being
friends with a good band is no guarantee of actually
being good of course (see: that odd California
psychedelic band who toured with Pavement, also see
Jim O'Rourke), but it made me a little more anxious to
listen to the CD. So, arriving home from a collossal
clusterfuck of a weekend I put in "Good on the
River" and was immediately impressed.
The Stand GT sounds a little like the Fastbacks only
slack-poppier, and a little like later Posies only
less world-weary. They're plenty world-weary, just
not yet Ken Stringfellow world-weary. To complete the
obligatory "they're like this band that band and this
other band" segment, The Stand GT sounds like
Fountains of Wayne ought to sound.
The songs are driven by smooth guitar and drumming.
Where the guitar work is supposed to sound clumsy it
does, and where it is supposed to sound labored it
does. When a song sounds like it probably ought to
end, it does, and when an instrumental interlude
(which is pretty rare on the album, as you'd expect)
sounds like *it* should end, *it* does. In other
words, the songs are well arranged, well produced and
well written. As a bonus, they're catchy.
Lyrically, "Good on the River" is pretty damned
good too. The songs are clever, often pretty funny,
and the choruses are lyrically catchy, too. They
aren't angry, epic songs of revolution and the
disillusion of a generation of geek-hipster cusp
slackers, they're songs about things more likely to
bother said geek hipster cusp slackers from day to
day, like annoying roommates and confusing
relationships. This isn't to say that epic songs and
revolutionary mantras don't have their place. Given a
choice, I actually prefer albums and songs that are
political or express deep thoughts about beautiful
things, but I also respect albums and songs that don't
even try to do that but are content to do a good job
of expressing clever thoughts about mundane things.
In this album, the lyrics are often clearly personal,
but they avoid falling into the trap of descending
into the realm of bullshit autobiography where you end
up spending money to hear some singer tell you how
much his life sucks. The band essentially comes off
as smart, good guys you wouldn't mind hanging out
Overall, "Good on the River" is pretty good in the
stereo. Hell, in looking at it again even some of the
songtitles seem better. "Shit, Jerry, I've Forgotten
the Antidote". Ha Ha. That's pretty funny. I'm
listening to the album again, even though I've already
listened to it enough to review it, and I imagine I
will listen to it sometime in the future, too. If you
like good, poppy songs that are written to be good
poppy songs without the need for constant intentional
self parody or other *wink wink*'s to placate the
Scene, then The Stand GT's latest offering is a good choice.
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