Friday, November 28, 2008

Review: Good Old War - Only Way To Be Alone (* * * *)

Former Days Away band members, guitarist/singer Keith Goodwin and drummer Tim Arnold, formed Good Old War along with guitarist Dan Schwartz after Days Away went on hiatus earlier this year. Whereas their previous work was focused on progressive indie rock with a bit of an emo vibe, the trio's latest effort and new band debut, Only Way To Be Alone, is a more straightforward acoustic rock album.

During the late 90s and early 00s, acoustic pop became a bit of a tired genre. Or maybe I just inundated myself with it until I couldn't take any more. At any rate, that style of music hasn't appealed to me for a while now. While almost the embodiment of the genre, Good Old War's recently released debut piqued my interest after I heard the first single "Coney Island," a clean, simple tune with well-placed vocal harmonies and tasteful percussion that hijacked my ears, making me hungry for more. After listening to their whole album, I found that while the band's sound is almost too familiar, their songwriting skills and musical talent make Only Way To Be Alone an instantly likable and thoroughly enjoyable record.

Starting with a basic pop-rock template, Good Old War add layers of harmony a la The Beatles or The Beachboys, simple, yet effective flourishes, and joyful melodies that brighten the room even with the occasionally melancholy lyrics. The band's two-guitar attack with plenty of fiery finger-picking provides the perfect backdrop along with Arnold's spot-on drumming. Aside from the first single, the rollicking "Just Another Day," the gently sad "I'm Not For You," and "Tell Me" would be my recommendations, though the album's subtle tempo and stylistic changes (some blues, a little twang) will probably provide different favorites depending on the listener.

Only Way To Be Alone, despite the primarily acoustic sound and folksy presentation, is a pop record at heart. It's a simple, yet effective collection of songs so positive and pleasant, even the most hardened music snob will find it hard to resist.

Good Old War's MySpace page


Anonymous said...

love good old war!! "we've come a long way" was my school's grad song for class of 09