THE GOODNIGHT LOVING - The Goodnight Loving (Off The Hip)
Milwaukee-via-the-Wisconsin-backwoods quintet The Goodnight Loving have struck a vein of creative gold with this one and how they're not bigger than free beer on a Sunday is a bigger mystery than the workings of short-sellers on what's left of Wall Street. Unabashed, unashamed garage pop meets country twang with a liberal dose of rock and a dash of punk-folk and we, the listening public, are the winners.

That's the short story. The back story is that this is their third long-player and I really have to get out more because I missed the first, Greg "Reigning Sound" Cartwright-produced "Cemetery Lane" and the lo-fi follow-up "Crooked Lake". Sounds like some back-tracking is in order.

But let's stay in the present and talk about what, on the surface, sounds like a dizzying mix of styles. The good news is that The Goodnight Loving work with them all in a way that breeds a coherent whole and you don't for a minute think they're covering too many bases.

How the band sees it is that they're just a bunch of ex-punks from the Boondocks trying to tackle roots music. They wanted to be the Byrds but couldn't hold those harmonies or count up to 12 when stringing a guitar and that'll do me. Who's going to argue with a group containing four players who apparently trade instruments and lead vocals more often than a carload of randy teenagers at the drive-in swap spit?

This is a blast but don't take my word for it, just dive in. You'll find the bent, rollicking shuffle of "Mad Is The Man" rubbing shoulders with the slightly absurdist rock-pop of "Blank Day Parade" and the measured pop of "Safe At Home" with nary a note out of place. Not overly polished but smooth enough in the right places to make sense.

Aussie-philes might hear shades of The Bamboos' "Virginia" in "Take You Home" and surely that's a Good Thing? "Cause A Scene" might be another vamping garage punk song wearing '60s hand-me-downs but unlike some tunes of that ilk it never sounds dated.

The album's doing the rounds on Off The Hip in Australia, Wild Honey in Italy and Dusty Medical Records in the US of A so it's not geography standing in your way of laying your ears around it. The band themselves are on the road through the States and half of Europe as I type this. Any chance of a visit further afield, fellas? - The Barman