Album Review: The Go Agains - Looking Up EP

I’ll admit it from the start that I’m not much into this kind of acoustic, carefree, Blues Traveler-esque type of music. I think Jack Johnson is the Anti-Christ, and nothing at this point will ever change my mind. I feel like it’s safe music for safe people, or at best, music by “dudes” to get “chicks”. There’s no depth to it -- From a critical point of view I can appreciate it, but it needs to have some clever or profound lyrics or At least some interesting, catchy melodies. Those are the kinds of things that transcend genres and make all music good.

Unfortunately this EP by The Go Agains has none of these things. It’s four generally skilled musicians playing some generally tolerable music, which to me, is completely lifeless. Good music remains in your memory after just one listen. There’s always something like a well-written line or an epic ending that keeps it there, begging you to play it back. The only thing that remains in my head after a few listens to this EP is how utterly unremarkable it is. The music would be passable if the vocals had any character or qualities to draw the ear away, but it’s all so bland.

Musically there’s nothing outstandingly bad, but there’s also nothing outstandingly unique. It’s just not interesting. This could be an album by any hundreds of bands operating in this genre right now, or any of the thousands that have come and gone before. The vocals could save it, but it’s just more mediocrity, both melodically and lyrically.

Good lyrics have layers. They have an initial quality that piques the mind and a layered quality that makes you run them through your brain. The Go Agains lyrics are rife with age old clichés and amateur rhymes delivered with simple, tired melodies.

Good lyrics should just read well off the page. They should read well as a poem, as a story, as separate statements, and as a theme. Good writing is good writing, no matter what format. You can judge for yourself, but I don’t find anything appealing about lyrics like this.

Red Hat:

Going to Toronto
I’m playing in a band
I’m playing to the girl in the Red Hat
I hope she likes my hands
Woke up This Morning
I’m laying in my bed
I turn to the girl in the Red Hat
I hope she likes my hands

Landscape (Escape) :

Looked for my way this winter
But that path is covered in snow
Looked for my way this winter
The thought of cold is keeping me warm
And I know a place that we call home
The winding streets and the friends we meet
It’s so cold
It’s a storm
When you’re far from home.

People :

People are the needle and the thread
That hold life together
People are the bread in my stomach
The air in my lungs
People come and go just like the steam in my kettle
You won’t have to leave this world alone

Are they terrible? No. But they’re boring. And the music is boring, and when it all comes together it could be lumped in with 45% of the dollar rack at any record store. To top it all off, They end the album with Walking Faster, which contains your standard cliché college bro rap verse. I mean, what is this, music by numbers?

Bands need to reach further now more than ever. I feel like there are still a large number of musicians who listen to a Bob Dylan record and read a Jack Kerouac book and get inspired to create their own art just like the people who did that in the 60’s (which is great), but they don’t realize that WE’VE COME A LONG WAY SINCE THEN, and people are getting less and less impressed with the whole dude with an acoustic guitar thing, and I’m one of them.

Maybe I’m being unfair, but in all honesty I’ve listened to this thing over 5 times now and when it’s over I can’t recall one single song. Not even a chorus.

Now, before you stop reading and think I’m an asshole just do me one favor –

Go find the nearest copy of Exclaim! Magazine and open it up. Now flip through it and look through every ad and count how many band names you don’t recognize. Got the number? Ok good. Is it over 100? Probably.

Now think about this. How many bands in your city do you think there are that can afford the 500-1000$ needed to have an ad in Exclaim? Here in Halifax, I can think of about 10. There are literally hundreds of bands here, and maybe 10 have that kind of money (or any money at all really). Every band is as broke as the next, and we’re all just clawing and grabbing for anything.

My point is, it’s a god damn warzone out there, and if you actually want to be an honest to god fucking BAND, then you need to do your homework and really hold your own music up to an even higher standard than the music you listen to, because how will you make progress if you don’t?

I consider my standards to fairly reasonable. I can look past certain misgivings if there is a real heart or core to the music. This is mostly because I like trying to identify potential in a band that may be lacking in other areas and then over time watching them get themselves in shape and really reach (at least artistically) their peak. It’s one of the most inspiring things when it all comes together. The Go Agains might yet blossom one day, but it’s going to take one hell of a jug of water.

- Josh "pinky" Pothier



Karen said...

I purchased this album online and have found it to be quite refreshing and uplifting, but hey, I'm someone who actually likes this style of music. Is it safe? Maybe, but it doesn't matter to me how much "clawing and grabbing" there is in the mad, chaotic, dog-eat-dog music world. From this paying music listener's point of view "safe" is a very good place to be these days. Thank you Go Agains! Keep it coming.

Anonymous said...

If these guys are making music to get
chicks.. they'll be disappointed with the results. I like their hands.