Josh Goode Band – Fact of the Matter

Josh Goode Band
Fact of the Matter

Sometimes no matter how hard the reviewer tries, he can never describe a band as well as a band describes itself. Case in point: If I were to tell you the Josh Goode Band features amazingly adroit players capable at leaping from one style to another in the blink of an eye, you may be tempted to investigate further. In doing so you might visit the bio page on the bands site and come across this poser:
“What would happen if John Mayer wrote songs for Rush?” Hmmm…the seas would boil away? The Earth would drift slowly into the sun? Melodies would need to be transposed seven octaves up? You read on… “What if Bono jammed with Phish for a night?” And then you begin to feel the chilly dread spreading out from your bowels to your knuckles. Someone has actually considered this?! What kind of god would allow it? Satan? Azathoth? The other guy?
If this sounds like a sane reaction to an insane proposal, you’re obviously not in the Josh Goode Band. If you were, those baffling pairings would actually represent a divine synergy of sorts. Though they didn’t propose any sort of Jimmy Buffett/Spin Doctor/Yngwie Malmsteen hydra-headed terror, they may as well have. Fact of the Matter offers chintzy pop, funk pretensions, and a dizzying level of instrumental precision. Heaven forbid these musicians should miss a note.
If the songs had more heft, there might be a point in parsing the Texas quartet’s impeccable performances. Or if the band was less broad in its assimilation of styles, and Josh less cheesily exaggerated vocally. Or just better songs. As it is, the paltry six numbers on this release provide only a few passing moments of pleasure, elsewhere it’s all silliness and airtight virtuosity. The most effective moment comes and goes pretty quickly. It’s the chorus of “Let You Let Me Down,” six bars total, with a nice “oooh/aaah” harmony soaked in reverb and a brief respite from the instrumental and vocal showiness.
The band conjures a lot of unpleasant ghosts throughout, notably Dave Matthews, Barenaked Ladies, and, in the band’s heavier moments, Live, albeit a Live with some humor (and amazing chops). As for Phish, I’d say these tunes are on a par with that Vermont collectives best, for what that’s worth, but the JGB crank up the syncopation to a more feverish degree, bass slapping away and drummer working his undoubtedly vast kit. Slap bass in a rock context is a red flag; personally. It usually signifies a forced funk and a bland pro attitude – and a drummer with a huge kit. All the rhythm section pyrotechnics the band can muster aren’t enough to offset the trite music of the title song, sort of a funky faux-calypso – there’s a genre better left untouched. “Room to Breathe” is probably the best song overall, since it at least plays down the “funk” angle and sports a decent melody and some moodier guitars. There are other moments when the hot air escapes, and JGB threatens to mature into something more interesting but ultimately, no.
I’m sure the Josh Goode Band is very entertaining live, and the band is certainly tighter than a cat’s ass. This being an indie-variety readership, however, I can safely recommend this record to none of you. Nothing of what you’re looking for is here, unless of course you really are waiting for that Bono/Phish summit to come to pass. God help you.