memorial day e.p.
It’s been only a matter of months since an energized J. Hubner shared his last goodbyewave release, bright lights, strange nights, with us, and he appears to have shifted gears slightly in the interim. Apparently Hubner’s tapped into his inner J. Mascis — this new release, memorial day e.p., is loaded with super-fuzzed guitars layered over goodbyewave’s patented multi-harmony vocals, cool keyboards and addictive melodies.
memorial day e.p. kicks off with a fuzzed-out and completely groovy instrumental called “New Rebel (Old Cause),” a tune filled with potential energy just bubbling under the surface, providing a sense of tension begging for release – never quite granting it. It’s as if Radiohead had emerged from the Southern U.S. rather than stodgy ol’ Britain. Next comes “Long Car Rides,” a slow, classic harmony-driven tune that rewards optimistic listeners with this lyrical nugget: “Life is suffering / Suffering is you and me.” It’s a well constructed song with uncomplicated instrumentation and plenty of heft, a bit reminiscent of Sebadoh – minus the Lou Barlow-in-the-fetal-position vibe, thank you very much. The combination of a sprightly “Here Comes the Sun”-style acoustic riff and Byrds-y jangle lifts “Face to Face” out of its bittersweet lyrical landscape and into pure sunshine.
Crunchy guitars return during the cranky, accusatory “Why Don’t You Believe in Me?” Atop a rocking musical platform The Kinks might appreciate, Hubner spits, “Where did you go when things got bad / Where did you turn when you were feeling bad?” before finally imploring, “You treat me like an enemy combatant / Where did that come from?” Fittingly, a psychedelic, fuzz-fueled breakdown follows.
memorial day e.p.’s production isn’t exactly lo-fi; it lies in that magical area where all the sonic elements are captured, but a graininess and edge are maintained. It fits both the substance and the vibe very well. “Comes Around, Goes Around” moves goodbyewave into the E.L.O./Pink Floyd-tinged world formerly inhabited by Grandaddy, with a bit of Eels-style sardonic smirk poking through the pain. It’s a textured, subtly tortured number that’s hook-driven enough to make you brave the storm clouds for the reward of repeated listens.
Finally, “Memorial Day, 1978” shines through the cloud cover, sounding of all things a little bit like old-school Chicago, sans the horns, channeled through the bruised pop lens of Big Star. This disc is sometimes raw and always emotionally charged, but Hubner’s knack for knocking out great-sounding tunes trumps all. Suffering might be life, but for our sake, J., keep it up.
More info is available at www.myspace.com/goodbyewave. (D.M. Jones)
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