Clay: I guess I’ll open by saying that I didn’t know what to expect with this album, so my surprise was mitigated when I listened to the Goldberg Sisters. Entertainment industry cross-over is not a new venture by any means, but Adam Goldberg (Dazed and Confused, Saving Private Ryan, Entourage) has certainly made things interesting. His third album and second under The Goldberg Sisters moniker is a trippy avenue down the indie music scene, with nods to the Beatles, David Bowie and even the Flaming Lips. My question is, with how much he wears his influences on his sleeve, are we breaking new ground?
Greg: To say it is “a trippy avenue down the indie music scene” is an understatement. I would venture to say it is more like a rabbit hole of a record that spirals into a kaleidoscope of musical vision that quickly becomes a profound demonstration of individuality. And even then, I don’t feel it conveys the Bowie taking the place (creatively speaking) of the “Yoko in Lennon’s life” type of sound he conveys. Definitely new ground.
Clay: I didn’t realize we were breaking out the thesaurus so early in the process. Hang on, I’ll be right back.
OK: something, something, verisimilitude. There we go. I think what struck me about Goldberg’s artistry is his use of hooks and humor. I’ll completely sidestep the opener “would you know a good thing if it crawled up your ass?” and mention the subtler comedy à la the National in “Dark Won’t Shine” with lines like “there are some things you won’t even tell yourself.” But what really gets me is how the hooks grow throughout the album. I start feeling the catch with the multiple layers of “York” and get fully pulled in with “While You Were Out” and all of its pop sensibility. It makes me want to buy a TASCAM four-track. Because, you know, that’s all it takes to make something like this; no inherent talent or experience playing guitar.
Greg: No talent whatsoever. I mean, last I heard they were giving out awards at the Grammys with proof of purchase.
What stuck out most to me was the album’s ability to completely consume me for fifteen tracks. And that is talent that cannot be taught. It opens a doors, appears sweet and innocent, waves you in, then holds you in its grasp in an Odyssey-like trance that Homer himself could not have written better.
But before I confuse people and they go searching for some ancient Greek Psych album I suppose it is best to explain that this could only be associated with some sort of psychedelic pop. Even then, that only scratches the surface of what is really going on in Stranger’s Morning.
Clay: I agree, though the psychedelic nature of the record tends to distort time. There are times that I listen and it feels like a minute passes before I hit the hidden track, but my first few passes through the album I’d be sitting there thinking “this thing is almost over, right?” only to look down and see that I wasn’t even halfway through. But as I gave the album more spins, those moments became few and far between. Maybe because at first a lot of the songs sound very similar and then once your ear becomes a little more trained you can pick up on the subtle differences in each track?
Greg: The subtle differences you speak of are precisely what elevates the album to a completely other plane. From afar, I agree, there is a constant thread between each track; but like A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, the closer you get the more you see the dotted brilliance of Goldberg’s work.
I strongly believe The Goldberg Sisters sound is the beginning of something deep and influential. The production value, from tracking to mixing to collective whole is a hell of a work of art.
Clay: Perhaps, I just worry that this album is out of time; that it was released in the wrong cultural window and that 10-15 years from now we’ll be going back and saying: “why weren’t we spinning this record non-stop?” It is unlikely this album will be picked up by Top 40 due to its lack of Auto-Tune and dubstep beats, but there is no reason this album shouldn’t instantly become a cult classic.
Forgive my griping about the state of music today. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go yell at the kids to get off my lawn.
Greg: Very true. Well, that and Top 40 doesn’t seem to even know how to spell “original creativity”. And Stranger’s Morning is everything (forgive the cliché) original and creative. So much so, these fifteen tracks easily become a vinyl lover’s dream, making them (as you said) slightly off the cultural window. But vinyl is making a comeback and these cavernous layers belong in the grooves that move the needle like some psychedelic mass of arms helping each track along on the communal wave of experimentation.
Don’t forget to tell the kids to listen to The Goldberg Sisters. Because that’s what cool kids do.