Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Goon Sax - Up To Anything

The Goon Sax are killing me!  No, not the cheap sacks of wine sold in sacks and known in Australia as 'goon sax' -- although there have been mornings when that stuff has been the near death of me as well.  I'm talking about the Brisbane band, The Goon Sax, which, after giving us glimpses of their talent on a few singles over the past year, has smacked us in the head with their debut album, Up To Anything.  And the album slays me because the musical blend these teenagers create so perfectly captures the essence of young music -- adolescent love, bad haircuts, bad breakups, being alone, insecurities -- yet so un-selfconsciously assured musically, that it just doesn't seem quite possible.  One or the other would be a cause for celebration.  Both seems just a little bit over-achieving for the newbie indie set, but just as I don't want people to hate me for being suave and sexy, we shouldn't hate The Goon Sax for precocious talent.

The special blend here includes classic guitar pop that echoes fellow Aussies The Go-Betweens, southern hemisphere compatriots The Bats, and earlier era Northern cousins such as Glasgow's The Pastels.  The vocal resemblance to The Go-Betweens deserves remarking if only for the fact that frontman Louis Forster is the son of Robert Forster.  But Louis and compatriots Riley Jones and James Harrison carve their own path lyrically.  That topics mine adolescent themes such as isolation, insecurity, crushes, rejection and the like isn't surprising for a band this young.  What makes it fresh and special, however, is the wordplay coupled with a deadpan delivery that results in the proceedings being far more funny than heartbreaking.  Louis wonders how to make people think about him ("Up To Anything").  He notes that he definitely cares for a certain someone, but than backs off to definitely "sometimes" caring -- and sometimes accidentally thinking about that person ("Sometimes Accidentally").  He advises a friend that she doesn't need to hold his sweaty hands, obsesses about haircuts, assures us that he will make the worst of a bad situation, and sarcastically tells off a former crush for not treating a boyfriend properly.  And in the glorious closer, confides that he is eating his ice cream all by himself.

What you have are 12 songs that unspool like a week in the life of a partially arrogant, partially insecure, intelligent and hyper self-aware teen trying to figure out how to make his/her mark, how to be loved, how to avoid over-commitment, how to deal with, well, everything that life throws at you at that age without an instruction manual on how to deal with it.  The guitars have enough jangle to fit the genre, but there is plenty of chugging on the lower register strings as well.  Favorable references abound, but I'll just mention that the opening track struck me as something that wouldn't be out of place on Daddy's Highway, and I don't give out such praise lightly.

Up To Anything is out now via Chapter Music.  See the Bandcamp link below.

Bandcamp for Up To Anything

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