Goose, "Shenanigans Nite Club"
Mitch says the kids are alright
The greatest gift ever given to Gen Xers was low expectations.
We grew up in a world where no one cared what we thought, no one catered to us, and everything seemed crappy. From gas lines, to watching space shuttles blow up, to living in constant fear of nuclear war and AIDS, being a kid in the ‘70s and ‘80s felt like showing up to a party long after the cops busted it up. If the American dream wasn’t dead, it certainly smelled funny, and we knew it. We fully embraced slackerdom and its attendant “can’t win, don’t try” ethos. This mindset translated directly into our generation’s music - grunge rock - an angry outburst of rage and frustration, the dying gasp of rock and roll as popular music.
Ironically, our low expectations prepared us well for the hellscape of the 21st century, unlike our successors, the oft-maligned millennials.
Millennials, you see, were raised by boomers who gave their kids the indulgent upbringing that the "Me Generation" wished they had. Millennials were taught that they were special and the world was a wondrous place full of possibilities. They were raised to be educated, optimistic, inclusive and expressive.
In other words, they were screwed from the get go.
For years now, millennials have been criticized and pilloried for turning out exactly the way they were brought up - as if they gave themselves those participation trophies. Somehow, millennials took the blame for the world that their parents created. The very same boomers who turned out to be the biggest hypocrites in the world: selfish hoarders, destroying the planet, economy and society, just so they could have more, more, more for themselves.
Against all odds, the millennials remain a positive force for good in our society. Saddled with crippling student loans, stagnant wages and little hope for buying a home or ever retiring, they’re criticized yet again by the boomers for drinking coffee or eating avocados (!) and having the gall to point out how unfair our society can be to so many people.
That spirit of optimism and desire for a progressive, inclusive world is brought to life in their music - a diverse synthesis of genres, styles, and perspectives - and in today's indy rock world nobody is doing it better than a little outfit called Goose.
Sure, Goose is a jam band, but I’m going to call them an indy rock band because they sound like an indy rock band (that just happens to jam out every song). Just like CJ hates people being prejudiced against the label “metal”, I don’t want people to be biased by the label “jam” which implies long, self-indulgent solos, shitty vocals, and crowds with questionable hygiene (the Goose crowd is very clean and sexy).
For years now, I’ve been spreading the word far and wide about Goose because I truly believe they represent the third major movement in jam music. If the Grateful Dead created the jam template by bringing jazz sensibilities to traditional blues and country, and Phish added absurdity and elevated modal jamming, Goose is heralding the third wave by bringing a jam approach to accessible songs, while leaning on the entire history of classic rock as their Great American songbook. It’s a brand new sound and it’s exhilarating.
Like all jam bands (but don’t call them a jam band) they’re faced with the usual studio dilemma: do they try to cut a straight album of tight songs or do they try to recreate the live experience in the studio? Well, like all good millennials and improv comedians they said: “yes, and…” and created Shenanigans Nite Club, an album that is full of wonderful, tight(ish) songs, tasty but composed jams, and plenty of layering and other studio shenanigans that take advantage of their setting.
I love every moment of Shenanigans, from the opening of the funky summer strut of “So Ready” to the closing of the epic prog-rock suite “The Labyrinth”. In between, Goose alternates between songs and more experimental interludes, delivering a gaggle of sounds: dance beats, auto-tuned vocals, funk, psychobilly, jazz, video game, and everything else you’d expect from a generation that had access to the entire history of music.
Instrumentally, they’re an incredibly strong band and a tight unit. Jam bands always do best with a jazz drummer to keep them on track, and Ben Atkind is a monster. Jeff Arevalo adds rhythmic texture (and hopefully not a beam), Trevor Weekz is flexible enough to be either dominant or supportive with his bass. Pete Anspach is a magician on both keys and guitar, and then there’s Rick. Mr. Mitarotonda is the platonic ideal of a jam band leader: he writes excellent songs, his guitar playing is fantastic (perfect tone zone), he’s a great singer (the auto-tune is a choice), and he’s handsome as hell.
They also deliver a wide thematic range, from the deeper, more pensive tunes like “Madhuvan” and “Spirit of the Dark Horse” to the lighter tunes like “Flodown”, “S.O.S”, and “(dawn)”. Like the Dead, Goose knows how to take us on an emotional journey. Like Phish, Goose always remembers that having fun is the most important thing.
As a third wave millennial jam band, what Goose is adding to the scene is accessibility and inclusiveness. By reflecting a diversity of sounds and influences, and by jamming out strong songs that everyone can enjoy, Goose is opening up the jam world to more than just wooks and old heads, and for that I love them. Throw in the overall excellence of Shenanigans Nite Club, and Goose clearly deserves to be thrown a little bread at the Newbury St. Collection.
Mitch introduced me to Goose a few years back with a simple, “So there’s this great new jam band you’ve gotta hear.” and in the 35 years we’ve been friends, it might be the best gift he’s ever given me. And that’s not a joke or a backhanded compliment either, I’m very serious. It’s because music really is the gift that keeps on giving.
There were times when I first got into The Beatles when I would just listen to an album and a huge smile appeared on my face and nothing in the world could have wiped it off. The same thing happened when I started seeing The Grateful Dead live, and when I took that first deep dive into Jackson Browne’s catalog. I’ve owned that particular smile my whole life, and it’s one of pure, 100%, Grade A joy!
Shenanigans Nite Club is loaded with joy, whether it’s the upbeat funk beats of “(Satellite)”, the strange and hypnotic “(dawn)” or the gem of the album “Madhuvan”, Goose is bringing smiles throughout the entire 63 minute album. The collective energy of this band says matter-of-factly that these guys are an ensemble that enjoys being with one another, making music, and having a blast. It’s not often you can feel the positive energy emanating from a studio album, but this time you can, and when one song ends you can’t wait for the next one to begin.
As good as Shenanigans is (and it is), Goose is one of those bands that do their best work on stage in front of their adoring fans. Listening to Goose live brings that smile out every time.
The EONS crew was supposed to make a trip down to Connecticut for an event in December dubbed “Goosemas”, a three-set Goose show at Mohegan Sun, but it got rescheduled because of COVID.
The shows are now a few weeks away and we’re excited to caravan down the highways of CJ favorite state. And whether it’s December 2021 or February 2022, I’m always happy with the gift of Goose.
Pitch Successful (CJ’s driving, right???)
Jam bands are, by nature, self-indulgent. That ain’t no sin. I mean, let’s be honest. Exile on Newbury St. is awash with self-indulgence. Using music as a pretense, the three of us are able to share stories, theories, jokes and grievances that our friends and loved ones are sick of hearing. You, our readers, are like the audience at the Comedy Store on Open Mic Night and we love you for it. You indulge our self-indulgence.
If you’re a fan of jam bands, the process of finding cosmic harmony is why you’re here. (i.e. It’s not the destination. It’s the journey.) If you’re not a fan, you just wish they’d get to the finished product. In one album, Goose has managed to encompass everything I love and hate about this genre.
Let’s start with the greatness. “So Ready” is phenomenal. It’s a better version of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” and could easily have been the song of the summer in 2021. For a ten-minute song, “Madhuven” is extremely listenable. “S.O.S.” has got a killer groove. And “Spirit of the Dark Horse” possesses a haunting melody that borders on the supernatural.
On the flip side, “Satellite” is a four-minute jam that feels like twenty. “Flodown” is the worst hootenanny I’ve ever been subjected to. And “The Labyrinth” feels like a game of Dungeons and Dragons gone wrong. Mitch may argue that “Labyrinth” isn’t that much different from Rush’s “Fountain of Lamneth” or “Xanadu” (if he knows those songs), but he’d be wrong. A lot wrong.
Millennials may take a lot of undeserved heat, as Mitch pointed out. But there’s one terrible thing that they’ve created without the help of their parents: Instant history. That is, whatever is popular right now is the greatest ever.
Case in point: Because he’s their generation’s gold standard, most millennials believe LeBron James is the best basketball player of all time. He’s not. Michael Jordan is. And that’s because MJ played at a time when guys like Oakley, Laimbeer and Mahorn were actively trying to break his legs every time he took it to the rack. LeBron plays at a time where nobody is allowed to be in his “landing space”. If you dropped LeBron into MJ’s time, his PPG would be cut in half. If MJ played today, his PPG would double. Have a seat, Millennials.
As for Goose, Mitch may be guilty of a little instant history himself. Are they the next Grateful Dead? Maybe. Or are they the next String Cheese Incident. Also maybe. It’s really too soon to tell. I need more data. Until then, this Goose is cooked.
Pitch Failed (Why does it always have to be Connecticut?)
Mitch’s pitch was not (yet) successful and Goose’s Shenanigans Nite Club has not (yet) been added to the Newbury St. Collection.
All I need is for you to drive to the comments section and let us know whether Goose’s Shenanigans Nite Club stings like a honey bee or makes you say that it’s time to flee. Honk!
Desde bongós hasta congas, únase a nosotros la próxima semana mientras Ken mantiene el ritmo con un tono para "Abraxas" de Santana.
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