The Stand GT - Good on the River
Slag-O-Matic Records

"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 with.
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.
...ron provine...

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