By Jena Ardell
By Brian McManus
By Chaz Kangas
By Sound of the City
By Peter Gerstenzang
By Katherine Turman
By Chris Kornelis
By Brian McManus
Prior to laying actual eyes on Brooklyn's the Good Good, I'd figured them for urban legend: I'd drunk summertime PBR outside their down-low home/show space, the DIY venue Woodser; just missed their opening act at more than a couple local rock shows; and been old friends with former Good Good drummer Art Middleton, all before hearing word one about their band.
Maybe their low profile's because, five years in, they've treaded water past any number of breaking waves in their part of town. Groovy but not DJ-able, noisy but not formally so, the Good Good could be outsiders even on their own Williamsburg block. When pressed, St. Patrick's Day in an empty East River Bar, guitarist-keyboardist-flutist-vocalist Natalja Kent explains some: "I mean, if you're making music that's kind of sitting on the margin of something, and you're not pursuing somebody to market your margin, then you're not going to be 'big,' ever. And maybe that's just the reality of how we function as people."
How they function: as a trio, rounded out by Dave Penn (bass, sorta) and Pete Woods (drums, sorta), juggling instruments (megaphone, paper, trash, accordion) and vox (theirs, and an assortment of small children's) with the same avidity with which they dodge genre tags. Kent's vocals sometimes allude to Nico's affectless deadpan, as do the occasional spots of winding, propulsive bass pumps and keyboard vamps that show up on stuff like "Laying Here" and "Neighbors." But their sped-up Slits has that band's wide-eyed nudity as well; they mess up, unapologetically.
Their most recent release, A Fem Era, is packaged as a giant construction paper book, lyrics and naturalistic fantasy creatures side by side. As in the artwork, Fem Era's songs match technical exuberance with scattered, out-of-tune kiddie lullabies, perhaps because as "To Come" asserts, no matter their source, "it all comes to the same thing in the end."
So taken am I with their state-of-naturism that they have to shake me out of it. "We definitely live here, and I've been in New York for six years, and I live here, and I believe in it, and I participate," Kent tells me. Only at the end of the interview does the band mention that its next release will be on New York art label Menlo Park, i.e., the same track trawled by above-boarders like Deerhoof. "New York happens to be a kind of place where if you're really pushy in what you're doing you'll be on top, but if you're just doing what you're doing, you might not be on top, and that's OK," says Kent. "Maybe being an underdog is OK."
The Good Good play North Six April 8.