The Good for Nothin’ Band – Maniac World
Some might push music like this away without giving it a chance. There are music listeners among us who will openly dismiss genres like blues, traditional country, and jazz saying they no longer have anything to say about the complexities of modern life and thought. We have cluttered our lives and thinking with so much detritus that we are now conditioned to believe our representational art should be burdened with the same static. The unabashedly old fashioned music of bands like The Good for Nothing Band are antidotes to such nonsense. Ten songs on their debut collection, Maniac World, attest to the ability of blues and jazz music to disperse that static we rely upon and, instead, clarify our thoughts, emotions, and experiences in a way few art forms ever have.
The easy, smiling grace of the opening song “Fishin’ for the Moon” doesn’t undermine its strong narrative strengths. Vocalist Jon Roniger is an immensely likable singer who, nevertheless, is able to invest considerable feeling and thought into his phrasing. He, likewise, proves himself to be a singer following the music rather than some prima donna belter/crooner who expects the band to follow him. “DNA” is one of Roniger’s high points as a vocalist. He sounds positively inspired by the band and lyrical content alike. Both the singer and musicians artfully careen through this often quite funny song, but there’s a deeper, knowing air surrounding the track that hints at much more going on beyond some elaborate, if admittedly funny, humor.
The title song is a nice blues with very theatrical inclinations. The likely thinking here, behind its writing, is that the music and vocal alike needed to find a way to temper the otherwise dire lyrical content. By this measure, the band succeeds wildly. “Maniac World” is a study in contrasts and has a growing tension that keeps you listening, but never really resolves itself. There’s a slightly thoughtful side to “Bosom of Extremes”, but as the title indicates, humor is the predominant quality setting this song apart. It’s another all around likeable bit of songwriting and singing. Some of their rough-hewn spirit emerges on “It Is What It Is” through their semi-aggressive use of dynamics and the instrumental flair they imbue the song with.
The Good for Nothin’ Band revisits the bluesy crawl they utilized on “Maniac World” in the song “Romero in Rags”. This is a much more successful effort thanks, most likely, to the more directly personal nature of the lyrics than on the earlier song. “Lips like Candy” is the final blast of quasi-rock attitude that they bring to bear on Maniac World and they make it count. This is one of the album’s best, purest blasts of energy and will sweep up any listener in its web. Maniac World is a rousing success and heralds the recording arrival of a major new band talent. These are ten songs with wicked creativity and a willingness to be, in the end, merely themselves.
9 out of 10 stars.