For All Your Electro Swing Needs Created by Mister M on 7/21/2014 7:31:53 PM
Mister M reviews "The Kicker" by Good Co.
Good Co. is a band with identity issues. They bill themselves at “The US’s one and only Electro Swing Band,” but what does that mean? Their first album saw them as an electro-fied jazz band while their latest sees them stepping up to the dance floor with The Kicker. Where will it lead?
Their debut, Electro Swing for the Masses presented the group as jazz musicians in a smoky club backed by modern beats. Songs like “Jazz Player” or the standard “St James Infirmary Blues” (abbreviated here as “St. James”) keep with tradition. Not a jazzbo myself, I find it wanders and doesn’t have enough hooks to grab me and pull me in.
The Kicker rectifies this, but alters something in the process. It sounds more pop, more like a studio creation. It sounds less “live” and more like a dance album with horns. This is not bad, just less organic. Am I looking to have my cake and eat it too?
Some of this hinges on one instrument running through the album: the clarinet. If features in several songs and sounds authentically vintage. If it’s sampled, it shows a deft hand and a keen ear. If it’s live, it shows the band’s understanding of how to recapture an era. It sounds good, but it would be good to hear how it plays out live. Unfortunately, I missed them when they played Chicago’s electro swing night, Rouge.
Good Co. takes some chances on The Kicker. “Getaway” attempts exotica. “In the Water” samples a spiritual and rides a righteous Hammond organ groove. Can I get an “Amen,” brother?
“Paper Tiger” is the weakest link, but offers an opportunity for improvement. The narrator attempts to seduce a circus aerialist, entreating, “You won’t let me roar with you.” However, it’s not clear that this is a lion tamer, ringmaster or stagehand. There’s extended circus imagery, but no central metaphor. The music isn’t quite circus-y enough either. Like the transition from Electro Swing for the Masses to The Kicker, Good Co. needs to tighten up its concept.
The Kicker moves away from the loose jazziness of their first album and tightens up the songs. They just need to flesh out their concepts to really kick into gear.
Mr. M plays theremin and other oddball musical devices in the old-timey mad scientist band The White City Rippers and twangs washtub bass in the steampunk Britney Spears tribute band Spears and Gears. He also spins the amber oldies with the Lords & Ladies DJ crew.