Itâ€™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 Hubnerâ€™s tapped into his inner J. Mascis â€” this new release, memorial day e.p., is loaded with super-fuzzed guitars layered over goodbyewaveâ€™s patented multi-harmony vocals, cool keyboards and addictive melodies.Â
memorial day e.p. kicks off with a fuzzed-out and completely groovy instrumental called â€œNew Rebel (Old Cause),â€ a tune filled with potential energy just bubbling under the surface, providing a sense of tension begging for release â€“ never quite granting it. Itâ€™s as if Radiohead had emerged from the Southern U.S. rather than stodgy olâ€™ Britain. Next comes â€œLong Car Rides,â€ a slow, classic harmony-driven tune that rewards optimistic listeners with this lyrical nugget: â€œLife is suffering / Suffering is you and me.â€ Itâ€™s a well constructed song with uncomplicated instrumentation and plenty of heft, a bit reminiscent of Sebadoh â€“ minus the Lou Barlow-in-the-fetal-position vibe, thank you very much. The combination of a sprightly â€œHere Comes the Sunâ€-style acoustic riff and Byrds-y jangle lifts â€œFace to Faceâ€ out of its bittersweet lyrical landscape and into pure sunshine.
Crunchy guitars return during the cranky, accusatory â€œWhy Donâ€™t You Believe in Me?â€ Atop a rocking musical platform The Kinks might appreciate, Hubner spits, â€œWhere did you go when things got bad /Â Where did you turn when you were feeling bad?â€ before finally imploring, â€œYou treat me like an enemy combatant / Where did that come from?â€ Fittingly, a psychedelic, fuzz-fueled breakdown follows.Â
memorial day e.p.â€™s production isnâ€™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. â€œComes Around, Goes Aroundâ€ 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. Itâ€™s a textured, subtly tortured number thatâ€™s hook-driven enough to make you brave the storm clouds for the reward of repeated listens.
Finally, â€œMemorial Day, 1978â€ 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 Hubnerâ€™s knack for knocking out great-sounding tunes trumps all. Suffering might be life, but for our sake, J., keep it up.Â
More info is available at www.myspace.com/goodbyewave. (D.M. Jones)
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