Goodtimes, Goodtimes


In 2008, Franc Cinelli released his first album, Glue, under the moniker Goodtimes Goodtimes, which blended great acoustic and free feel, along with Cinelli's fantastic voice and strong guitar work. The album has remained one of my favorites over the past couple of years, and since then, Goodtimes Goodtimes has been at work on his second album, which has just been released in the U.K.

The self-titled album opens quietly with the song Point One, and straight from the get-go, it's clear that you're about to listen to an evolutionary change. Where Glue really impressed me throughout, Goodtimes Goodtimes absolutely blew me away. Point One is the first indication, as it slowly grows and grows, adding on layers as the song progresses into a gorgeous wall of sound and vocals.

Over the past two years, I've heard various versions of songs as they were worked on and released, and was generally impressed with the styling and sound that came with each one. Let It Begin is the only song that seems to have made it onto the new album from this initial batch of demos, and the demo that bears the same name demonstrates that there were some changes to come: expected changes, from Glue to the next major effort. The album is a perfect example of where a band or singer/songwriter has taken their already notable music and figured out what needed to change. The result is an exceedingly superior effort, and I'd struggle to see what would come next that could be better.

Listening to the new album version of Let It Begin however is an entirely new experience. Frank comes out of the gate at a flat out run, with a blast of guitar, bass and vocals. Turning the volume up, there's an incredible richness to the sound that simply didn't come through before, from the guitar strumming in my right ear, the background vocalist in my left, with a speed and urgency that just didn't exist before.


This continues through the album as a whole. Magic Hour and Love display the a slower tone, but the same level of richness through the vocals and music, and the album's first lead single, Fortune Seller Song, brings the same casual level of energy and depth throughout the song. Burn and Diamonds in the Sky bring back the fast pace of the album, while other songs, such as By Your Side and Sweet England put together a sentimental feeling.

Looking between Glue and Goodtimes Goodtimes, it's astonishing at how much better the latest album is. Listening over tracks such as Temporary Freeze and Kids, the supporting and basic elements that inform tracks such as Magic Hour and Fortune Seller Song. Going from track to track, I'm reminded of a beginning photographer learning to take pictures, but only later learn how to manipulate their results in subtle ways to bring out a better picture by correcting the colors and applying filters as needed. Goodtimes Goodtimes is an incredibly well polished, tight and exciting album that surpasses his prior works by miles, which says a lot, and makes a really good thing even better.

The best element of Goodtimes Goodtimes isn't what has changed, however. The sound is together, polished and bright, but the core element that drew me to the group in the first place, the soul and songwriting has remained exactly where it was. The same, breezy free feel that has kept me listening to Goodtimes Goodtimes is intact and only improved by its actual execution over the course of the album.

The good times are back, but they've never really gone away. They've only gotten better and better.

You can listen to the entire album here.

Laura Veirs and the July Flame

Late last year, I wrote about the Decemberists and noted that I wasn't terribly impressed with their opening act, Laura Veirs and the Hall of Flames. I'm prepared to eat my words, especially after doing a little more research on the group as I've listened to Veir's latest album: July Flame.

Here I said she sounded like a newer musician, I couldn't have been more wrong - July Flame is her seventh album, with a music career beginning back in 1999, and also has worked closely with the Decemberists, contributing to their fantastic album The Crane Wife, on the track Yankee Bayonett (I Will Be Home Soon). It comes as no surprise then, that Colin Meloy has come out to announce that this is the best album of 2010.

July Flame is an interesting, but solid album all around. It took a couple of listens to get adjusted to Veirs, but this album soars with excellent lyrics and some very rich background work by the instruments supporting her. What we get is a wispy, elegant effort from a singer/songwriter. Some songs, such as the opening song I Can See Your Tracks, are essentially just a girl and her guitar, along with some Bon Iveresque background lyrics. The title track, July Flame, brings a deeper sound - rather than the girl and her guitar, it feels like Veirs is surrounded by the bass, drunks and electric guitar here, with her lyrics just punching out through the sound.

The rest of the album shifts between these two mentalities somewhat, giving the album a sound that is not necessarily predictable, but shifting. It's far from boring, and provides for quite a few listens to fully take in all the small facets of her sound. In particular, I I've grown to absolutely love Life Is Good Blues, particularly because the sound is so mixed, from singer/songwriter guitar to some chilling background vocals. There are points, such as in the song Make Something Good, where Veirs lets the instruments take over, for a really beautiful piece.

While the album is overall very strong, there's a number of points where I felt that Veirs just needs to be supported by something stronger - her voice is fairly high, elegant, but there are a couple songs, such as When You Give Your Heart, where the addition of bass and background vocals could have been used. For the most part, Veirs is able to avoid any larger trouble by putting these sorts of things in, but in a larger sense, it's hard to think of this album as a solo album, simply because the background work is so essential here. With that in mind, however, July Flame is a superior album - it's well organized, with an incredible sound and feel.