DAZY  – ” OutOfBody “

Posted: October 31, 2022 in MUSIC

Richmond, Virginia’s James Goodson makes scrappy guitar rock that’s piled high with hooks

If there’s one belief that guides James Goodson’s songwriting, it’s that rock music should be fun. You can’t miss this when you talk to him—on our hour-long call, he uses the word nine times. “We’re talking about catchy guitar music. I think it’s undeniable that this is fun stuff,” he says, with one of many laughs. “Guitars and loud music, and cool lyrics, and all these things, it should be moving you and hitting you on some level that almost gets around your brain.” Goodson spoke before kicking off a run of East Coast shows with his “Pressure Cooker” collaborators Militarie Gun (and MSPaint), and days before the release of his debut album, “OUTOFBODY”, out now on Lame-O Records. It’s hardly a position he thought he would end up in when he first started releasing music as Dazy in 2020: “I definitely did not expect anybody to find it at all, so to even be talking to you about it now is pretty wild,” says Goodson.

But push play on any of his songs—I mean it, just throw a dart at his discography—and in a matter of seconds, you’ll see why listeners have gravitated to Dazy. Goodson’s one-man band has been fully formed from the start, and on “OUTOFBODY”, it only gets bigger and better. 

Nowhere is this more apparent than on singles “Rollercoaster Ride,” “Split” and “On My Way,” none of which stretch past the two-minute mark. Goodson recalls “Rollercoaster Ride” as the result of him “trying to write something as poppy as possible,” pinpointing its echoing drum loop as a particular point of pride. Goodson’s insistent vocal interlocks with equally melodic guitar and mellotron lines in the track’s two-word choruses, creating the kind of ride you jump right back in line for the second it ends. On both “Split” and “On My Way,” Goodson’s wellbeing is entirely at the mercy of external forces (“You could paint a smile on my face / Then tell me something that would make it fade,” he sings on the former, while on the latter, he shrugs, “Comet won’t miss but I’ll just be on my way / Spreading that stress but I’ll just be on my way”), yet the sugar-rush instrumentals cast a rosy tint over even those situations, as if to prove there’s nothing more powerful than a pop song.

Goodson shouts out his beloved Ramones on “Choose Yr Ramone” and bemoans the writer’s dilemma on “Deadline.” He dismisses the never-ending quest to achieve someone else’s idea of success as a sucker’s game over the sludgy guitars and Primal Scream-y beat of “Ladder,” and avoids the void on “Asking Price,” which leaves room for R.E.M. jangle amid torrents of distortion. Goodson is more comfortable than ever with the sonic elements that he once felt self-conscious about, citing drum machines, in particular, as having “opened up a lot of songwriting stuff for me”—he not only inhabits the Dazy sound more confidently than ever on “OUTOFBODY”, but he also expands it.

On “Motionless Parade,” he reduces the tempo and gain both, delivering an imaginative strummer with some of his most resonant songwriting yet: “Nothing like a little fun thinking about what could go wrong,” he muses, formless fear paralyzing an otherwise pleasant scene. And on “Inside Voice,” Goodson pushes his vocals in a more natural, gentle direction, a development that he notes has been “a big part of Dazy” overall. “I guess we oughta try to say the things that stick to our insides,” he croons over acoustic guitar and mellotron, evoking an atmosphere of intimacy and vulnerability not yet seen in his discography.

“OUTOFBODY” ends with “Gone,” an absolute epic by Goodson’s standards, and his longest Dazy song to date at 3:45. The track “[went] through a lot of different versions,” he recalls, “and every time I would dust it off, I’d add something new to it.” With its mellotron strings and layered vocals, the track felt “too crazy” at times, but “I always knew it was going to be a closer on something. And I have a real soft spot for that huge closer. So I decided to just go nuts with it,” he says. If ever a Dazy track felt stadium rock-sized, it’s “Gone”—its dizzying crescendo is the kind of thing that gets people popping up out of even the cheap seats, with Goodson’s overlapping voices and volcanic guitars intertwined around the hopeful refrain, “And when they’re gone, you’ll be holding on.” It’s moments like this where you can forget that Dazy is just one person, recording in his spare room in Richmond. It already feels like much more.

“OUTOFBODY” is out now on Lame-O Records.

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