Thursday, September 18, 2014

The GOASTT Long Gone Review

To my delight, The GOASTT released a new EP on Spotify a little over a week ago.  The tracks on the EP feel very much like they belong on Midnight Sun, a natural extension to the album if you will.  To say that The GOASTT wears their influences on their sleeve would be tired and lame.  To say that The GOASTT draws from their influences and then goes to 11...well, that would be more accurate. 

Before venturing into this review, I dug up a Rolling stone article from May featuring a playlist of Sean Lennon’s deep cuts from sixties psychedelic era.  You can find it here:

I really wanted a deeper understanding of where some of the sounds I was hearing were coming from so I went to YouTube and found all of the songs on the list.  (I would absolutely recommend doing this because not only do you get a great idea as to where the sounds and the feel of the EP may be coming from, but it’s also a fantastic way to find nuggets yourself and expand your musical horizon)  Just listening to the first fifty seconds of the fist song on the list (July – “Dandelion Seeds”) you can hear where Lennon and Kemp Muhl find some of their inspiration for the many changes in tempo and directions that you will find in their songs.

With the Long Gone EP, GOASTT once again adds their twist to psychedelic rock and they do it in an amazing way.  They didn’t just write new songs in the language of psychedelic pop/rock, they add to the language and really make it their own.  You can hear elements of worldly styles from the Middle East and India, far out synthesizer work, and dirty garage rock that recalls The Faces (among others) with the dirty, distorted, driving guitars and bass.  It all adds up to create this really great fresh, interesting, and engaging works so well and it’s just fabulous.

For those of you looking for a quick thumbs up or thumbs down: all in all it's a fantastic EP that cuts it's time way too short.  I highly recommend (If you're a fan of psychedelic rock) grabbing a Spotify account if you don't already have one and taking the time to devour this EP!

If you're looking for a little more detail, please keep reading!

“Long Gone”

The EP begins with a blistering version of Syd Barrett’s “Long Gone”.  I recommend listening to Syd’s version either before or after you listen to this version to understand the roots of this song.  It gives you a chance to see where GOASTT keeps elements of Syd’s version and where they build on it to make it their own.   The original version builds so much power and energy when the organ hits right as the chorus begins and then releases when he belts out “…in her eyes”.  This version one ups Syd’s by adding heavy, driving guitars, furious drumming, swirling synths, stops and starts – honestly, it just rocks so hard.  Picture it this way – when they break into the guitar solo around 2:08 you feel like that old Maxell commercial with the guy sitting in the black leather chair getting blown away by the music.  Or, to put it another way, in the words of a certain stand-up drummer, "It rocks so hard indeed, that you in the first few rows may want to shade your eyes..."  It’s an absolutely marvelous rendition of this song.   The GOASTT does stretch the song out a little longer than the original roughly 2:50, but it doesn’t feel tired at all.  Even with the injection of some Barry Bonds-grade steroids, much of the original structure of the song stays the same.  I really enjoyed how they accentuated the vocals following the bass line at 1:33 more so than Syd did.

“Dark Matter”

This is a fantastic duet with Charlotte.  They really complement each other well on this song.  I love how the song changes up from a slow and dark melody to a circus calliope feel and then into what I would consider something of a pre-chorus, and then finally releasing into a really beautiful chorus.  Adding to the attention grabbing melodies, and chorus – the drum work really stands out to keep the listener engaged.  Yes, the song does use the traditional snare hi-hat, bass drum combo we all know, but then it goes into these snare marches and other rhythms that work so well.  That’s why, even with the track being a bit longer, you never get bored listening or want to skip to the next track - it keeps you engaged.   This song is so dreamy and feels so spacious - it creates a swirling musical picture that invokes all kinds of trippy imagery – like that of floating on a cloud.  Honestly when I heard this song the thing that popped into my head was the "Porpoise Song" and The Monkees flying on the “Head” movie poster with the swirls behind them.  Not so much because I was feeling like the songs were similar in structure, it was more about how they invoked similar feelings when listening to them.  It’s trippy and I love it.  There, I said it.

“Early Worm”

This song really has an ethnic, worldly feel to it and feels much like a love letter penned to George Harrison.  In the Rolling Stone article mentioned above, Lennon states that Revolver and Pepper are his two favorite Beatles albums and at 42 seconds it shows, because the listener is immediately transported to Pepper land with 4 simple notes.  Sean sings the melody very interesting here - almost in a droning fashion, which really shapes the feel of the song.  This song is a great example of what I’ve really come to appreciate and like about Lennon and Kemp Muhl’s writing: a style of incorporating and weaving in these really catchy choruses over somber or melancholy melodies – it makes for interesting listening.  As the song picks up the pace into the chorus, the bass line is just fantastic and bubbly and helps build that happier feel.  With Charlotte’s harmonies it feels as though there is a lot of space between her and Sean’s voices and it creates a really big and airy sound.  No psychedelic song would be complete without and a little backwards-sounding guitar solo (with some really cool tone I might add) and The GOASTT doesn’t fail to deliver here!


“Delilah” starts out as a sweet, mellow, number with a marching snare coming in around 18 seconds in the background.   As the melody begins, the song becomes more up-tempo with rather simple elements to it.  There’s a rather simple bass line with a guitar chord hitting on the beat with some sweet-sounding keyboard work rounding out the mix.  Speaking of the beat, this song gains an incredible feel from the drum work; I think it’s this element that orchestrates the relaxing feel to the song.   A little over halfway into the song, “Delilah” comes to a screeching halt via an interesting synth sound effect that reminds me of the one in "Play The Game" and then veers into another tempo that creates an astral-planetary psychedelic feel before returning to the chorus.  “Delilah”, in the same fashion as the previous tracks, offers up some great vocal arrangements that add to make this a nice little ditty.

“Brand New World Order”

We’re introduced to this track with a space-aged synth effect followed by some mellow acoustic guitar.   The song is very lazy, or laid back if you will, with Charlotte and Sean trading verses.  It’s when you get to the chorus that something very interesting happens.  Lennon sings, “It’s a brand new world…” and you’re lifted up from this very melancholy tone...only to be brought back down when they sing, “…order”.   The emotional ride that they take you on by breaking up one single line is really quite magnificent.  If you’re not listening for it, you’ll miss it – so take some time and really listen to that part of the song and see if you get the same effect.   The other thing I find interesting is the lyrical intensity that is laid over such a lazy song.  I appreciate it when artists juxtapose more somber lyrics with either very happy and upbeat music or sweet and laid back music, as in the case of this song.  For the casual listener it may not add much…but for those that like to dissect albums, it adds depth to a song and makes it more interesting.

Needless to say, I really dig this album and my only complaints are:

1.)           It’s only 5 songs

2.)           It’s not available for purchase other than on tour

But hey, I guess they did their job because I didn’t have a Spotify account before this release.

If you're into this genre of music, take some time and head over to Spotify and listen to this EP - you won’t be disappointed!

Thanks for Reading.

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