Say you hail from a typical Midwest small town (Warsaw, Indiana, for instance), soak up influences that aren’t necessarily the “norm,” put together a band here and there and run through the usual life cycle of an indie rocker. But the songs won’t stop coming, even when you’ve distilled the “band” down to you and maybe one other. Slave away in your basement studio, constantly blowing on the embers, keeping your dreams aglow, however dim they might be. Why? It’s all about communication. John Hubner, aka Goodbyewave, emerges from his basement after almost three years of nursing the fire, ready to share the fruits of his labor. Goodbye, So Long, Farewell, Goodnight is by turns moody, dour, ethereal, poppy, heavy and even ecstatic. In other words, it’s a love letter to the world stuffed into an envelope addressed to the “complaints” department. And this is a good thing.
Oddly enough, the opening salutation, “Flipside,” offers a sardonically delivered note of alienation. “Don’t you shake that funny feeling,” Hubner sings in a deadpan voice, “'cause that’s as close as you get to me.” The music idles alongside a low-key mix of Elvis Costello and the Eels. The song’s electric piano backbone competes with squirmy guitars throughout. The mechanized, burbling and repetitive “The Last to Know” follows with an impassioned diatribe indicting the self-righteous like an updated version of The The. Just when you get the feeling this effort might be a solid downer, “Where Do You Go” pokes its sunny melodies and stirring harmonies through the clouds. If Alan Parsons and The Wondermints ever worked together, it might sound like this.
Mid-album shifts between fairly straight-up modern rock (“Daredevil”), spooky Floyd-ian piano-based mood rock (“Ghost in the Safe Place”) and call-and-response pop heaven (“We Can Have What We Want”). Then the monster drums (courtesy of Jack Long) announcing “Scientology is Not a Religion” kick in, followed by big riffs, a great hook and a tune that blasts off and remains in orbit, courtesy of some killer dueling lead guitars. Musically, it’s a fine centerpiece to an eclectic album that never lets up and never tires your ears. “Despite It All” offers woozy, modulated classic pop that brings to mind some of the best early post-punk, and its catchy, ascending chorus makes it stick-in-the-head material. A few of the later numbers on Goodbye drift into sun-baked, melancholy Grandaddy territory, setting us up for the shimmering semi-instrumental closer, “Used to Know.” Goodbye is a fine, well-crafted disc that deserves a listen. www.myspace/goodbyewave.
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