Horns! Suspenders! Sequined Cocktail Dresses! And yes, Fat Beats! Good Co is back with their subversively modern spin on swing in this, their third record release. The Surly Nerd is proud to review: Big Time Business.
For the uninitiated, Good Co consists of a substantial number of musicians performing electro-swing. If the term “electro-swing” isn’t sufficiently self-explanatory, our run-down for the last record should bring you up to snuff. Genre labels are functional in both directions; bands and artists can manifest their craft with more clarity of vision and audiences can connect to creative works which check all the right boxes (for them). Good Co still firmly operates within the electro-swing genre, but inhabit it more naturally while remaining free to even dabble in a bit of soul and samba. “Holding On” sways right into some some spooky, lounge music territory. Arpeggiated synths sweep up and down the track and combine with some excellent trombone work—an interesting detour from the more typical, jittery types of dance songs.
The modern touches mesh progressively better with each track. “Set Me Free” springs straight out of the 30’s. The modern mastering and thumping bass are its only giveaway. Crisp production serves to sufficiently ground the record as a modern work without alienating its more antique flourishes. The more subtle the electronic influence, the more malleable and easily interpreted the track. That said, I expect to spot a few remixes from this record.
Having lauded Good Co’s ability to thread the needle of old and new, it must be said how treacherous the path can become. Good Co operate in a weird space. No, I don’t mean Seattle (though similarities can be drawn). To be clear, Good Co is, quite simply, a good band. That’s more important than any genre labels with which they might associate. For all its usefulness, the Electro Swing genre seems to be a polarizing element. Anything that offers an easy shortcut to judgement of a work without ever actually interacting with the work in question is a persistent danger. Case in point, this asshole. I mean, damn. What did fun, dance-y, horn driven music ever do to that fella? Nothing that warrants that many words in protest of people trying to have a good time. Legendary curmudgeon Patton Oswalt got over himself as regards to detesting music that doesn’t suit his tastes. Let any bloggers with an axe to grind follow his example.
The only frustrations I suffer are inconsistent vocals and lyrics. Otherwise stellar instrumentation gets dragged down by lifeless or stilted vocal performances. It’s frustrating to really dig into a fantastic sax solo only to be brought up short by a clunky vocal melody or awkward verse. Those issues aside, there’s a lot to enjoy. Listen to “Ride With Me” on a roadtrip and try to tell me a good time won’t be had for the duration. Those shuffling beats and muted horns insist on joy. “Breaking Out” toys with gospel conceits so playfully I can’t help but smile.
…Damn, now I want a Highball.
You can find out more about Good Co by visiting their website. They can also be found on Facebook and Soundcloud.
When Cory isn’t being tied to a chair and forced to write reviews for our site, he can be found all around Houston playing music for one of the several bands he is in, like Golden City Music. You can also stalk him on Twitter, here. Look forward to more reviews from him in the future.