Friday, October 14, 2016

Things we like: Cameron Smith, Goodwin

1) Wow. With WAR PARTY, Cameron Smith has always combined sharp songwriting with attention to rock fundamentals (chord progressions, racka-racka) in a way that recalls sons of '65 Dylan like Lou Reed and Richard Hell. This new side, an ode to our city's nightlife, released under the rubric "Sur Duda," takes things even further down the path of hypnotic monotony (imagine if the VU, not the Hawks, were Bob's backing band in '66). Me like real much.

2) I can never thank the cats in Goodwin enough for making me love rock music again, at a time when I was getting pretty burnt out from writing for the local alt-weekly rag. (If I had a dollar for every dude that came up to me at my grocery store gig and said "Hey man you wrote about my band" of which I had absolutely no memory...then one day, my wife and I would have a very nice dinner.)

The first time I encountered Goodwin, at the Wreck Room (after being introduced to frontman Tony Diaz by Pablo and the Hemphill 7 leader Joe Vano at the old Black Dog Tavern), my exact words to my then-editor Anthony Mariani were, "Who are these fucking guys with numbers on their shirts?" Forty minutes later, they were my favorite band. The confluence of energy and aggression with melody and poignancy in Daniel Gomez's songs was enhanced by the barrel-chested Diaz's heart-on-sleeve delivery. Gomez's guitar -- oddly jazz-voiced, but spare and harmonic-rich, as though Leslie West had developed lyricism -- and Matt Hembree's melodic-yet-propulsive bass fleshed out the songs. Damien Stewart, a former drumline man from NOLA, joined late (in the manner of Ringo, Charlie Watts, and Keith Moon -- not hyperbole) and made them great.

Listening in the car this week (alternating with Revolver), I was thrilled to discover that there are still lots of moments on their 2004 debut CD (it's Amazon available, folks!) that move me to tears. The four cymbal hits before the bridge in "Airport," or the descending bass line under the chorus in "March," or the high ringing guitar note after the line "When I look at you" in "This Time," to name just a few out of many more, all operate on me like Proust's madeleine. What a joy to find that it still hits the same way, a decade and change later.

I promised myself I wasn't going to embed any more Youtube vids in this blog, but you need to see and hear this.


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