Posts Tagged ‘Riley Jones’

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The three members of Australian trio The Goon Sax are keen to talk about the band’s second album, a meditative romp about breaking up and moving on called “We’re Not Talking”. for Louis Forster, Riley Jones, and James Harrison, a Goon Sax song speaks for all of them. “We really like honest music, and so being sincere and honest is something we wanted to do,” Forster explains. “If nothing else, that was achieved. Sometimes I don’t know whether the other things we wanted [the album] to be [happened], but we got there on the honesty.”

The members of the Goon Sax were only 17 when their first album, “Up to Anything”, was released — it positively ached with growing pains and almost every song was cringingly real as if it was cribbed from a diary and set to sparsely hooky guitar pop. After time spent touring the world, gaining experience, and graduating high school, the band set out to make a more mature second record. For 2018’s We’re Not Talking, they hired Cameron Bird and James Cecil of Architecture in Helsinki to produce, brought in some string players, and paid far more attention to the arrangements of the songs. They wanted the record to hew closely to their idea of what a pop record should sound like and despite some clashes with Bird and Cecil, who have different ideas about the concept of pop, this is a wonderfully poppy record in the best sense of the word. The songs are bright and bold, the strings swoop in occasionally to lift the songs into the skies, and there’s a refreshing lightness to everything that makes the still-somewhat-difficult nature of the subject matter go down more easily. They managed to build up and expand up their sound without losing the core of what made them special. Another change was adding drummer Riley Jones to the song writing roster to join Louis Forster and James Harrison. She also steps up to the mike to sing lead vocals on “Strange Light,” one of the album’s quieter moments.

For a band with high expectations, the three share a healthy level of modesty. “Natural selection’s going to get [our band],” says Forster, even though industry heads have kept tabs on him for the past four years as the son of Robert Forster from The Go-Betweens. His mate Harrison, who penned some of the most humbling moments on the album, still doubts his own humility.

Still, there’s lots of hard work in We’re Not Talking that the band can take pride in. The nuanced layers of strings and percussion interwoven across this album took almost two years to stitch together; and even then, the band spent another three weeks threading out the extra fluff. Forster plays this down at first-“We sucked out all the fun,” he quips-but Jones insists that they’ve shaped the record into a “rocket.”

They can also all agree that the old wounds confessed in the lyrics still fester. Forster wasn’t fibbing on “We Can’t Win,” where the protagonist cries as the bus drives past his girlfriend’s house. “The day that song came out, I was having a walk,” he says. “I don’t really walk that often, [and I was] right exactly where I was walking when I wrote those lyrics. It pretty much felt terrible as well. I felt terrible again, three years after that.

Both Forster and Harrison sound more confident as vocalists, especially Harrison. He sometimes sounded like he was hiding behind artifice on their debut, which made his songs less effective. The improvement in his vocals give his songs a boost, and they’ve gone from being skippable to some of the highlights. The rumbling folk-pop of “Love Lost” is a brilliant sketch of loneliness and confusion, “A Few Too Many” is a wonderfully breezy tune, and his duet with Jones on “Til the End” is a perfect balance of his tartness and her sweetness. Once again, Forster’s songs are the biggest and most immediate. “Make Time 4 Love” is the kind of expansive indie pop Belle and Sebastian forgot how to make years ago, “Sleep EZ” channels the early Go-Betweens and adds a giant hook, and “Get Out” is a wound-up rocker that shows the band has a tougher side.

Throughout the record, the production team of Bird and Cecil give the songs some depth and greater scope, adding nice touches like cowbell and keyboards that make the songs leap out of the speakers. It’s a great combination of sound and songs that makes good on the promise the band showed on their debut, and shows them navigating the numerous pitfalls of growing up as a band in fine fashion.

The Goon Sax have something natural, unforced. Formed while still in high school, their debut album drifted from Jonathan Richman to The Go-Betweens via Beat Happening, while never truly replicating those influences. Charting a nexus of ideas that is truly their own, the band’s debut album was a sleeper hit in the global indie pop community, a record passed from friend to friend.

2018’s ‘We’re Not Talking’ found The Goon Sax maturing a little, developing in confidence and ambition. Since then the group have toured far and wide, travelling a long way from their native Brisbane. Heading to the UK, The Goon Sax are ready to unleash a new video for album cut ‘Strange Light’.

Shot by the band’s own Riley Jones the grainy lo-fi quality has a real immediacy to it, and it perfectly suits the music.

Because they’re the greatest teen band in the world, or at least they were when they dropped 2016’s jaw-dropping Up to Anything and 2018’s refined We’re Not Talking, the former a catalogue of awkwardness from a world before incels weaponized it, and the latter an astoundingly arranged follow-up that matures (castanets! Motown strings!) without dulling out. Now in their 20s, Louis Forster, Riley Jones, and James Harrison  all of whom sing and write  probably know more about love than their parents, which is notable because one of Forster’s sang in the Go-Betweens. But that doesn’t stop them from agonizing over it on the horn-flecked “She Knows,” or for that matter their debut single “Sometimes Accidentally” (“I don’t care about much but one of the things I care about is you”).

Harrison has a knack for nauseated anxiety anthems, but the unusually tense “A Few Times Too Many” duels against his own bassline and loses.

Taken from the album, We’re Not Talking (out September 14th on LP, CD and digital) via Wichita Recordings and Chapter Music

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“I’m so scared to get out of here / But I really want to get out of here.” It’s a line from “Strange Light”—a late standout from the sophomore LP by The Goon Sax and I’m not sure there’s a lyric that better sums up the feelings of late adolescence. Those prime years when your conflicting instincts are all fucking with each other, and the endless possibilities preached at you from childhood become paralyzing instead of promising. Growing pains and dawning realizations abound, but it’s in this mess that we finally wind up meeting ourselves. It’s an experience you might have all over again after listening to We’re Not Talking, the latest effort from the Brisbane trio. The band’s first album, filled with achingly familiar suburban references like Target and sweaty-palmed hand-holding, was released when Louis Forster, James Harrison and Riley Jones were just 17. This makes Talking, released two years later, an interesting crystallization of growing up. Taken out of context, a line like “I never knew what love meant / And I still don’t,” would be grounds for a heartbreaking ballad, but here it’s just a passing observation, a scanning self-analysis on the way to being an adult. For The Goon Sax, growing up sounds pretty good.

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A band of 19-year-olds from Australia who have a knack for incredibly thoughtful and structured indie pop, the Goon Sax’s second album is a tremendous reflection of the leaps and bounds the band has taken over its short life. They fall very easily into the grand tradition of Australian and New Zealand indie bands without batting an eye, which is both to be expected considering member Louis Forster is the son of Robert Forster of the Go-Betweens, but also a bit of a surprise since his reported musical awakening was not his dad’s band, but Green Day’s American Idiot. “We Can’t Win” is the album’s understated masterpiece, something that both evokes and transcends its teenage story and authors, much like the album as a whole.

Named after Australian bagged wine, the Goon Sax travel in teenage ennui, that era of your life where the possibilities are endless and your ability to do anything — or even know which movie to watch — feels infinitesimal. Their sophomore album, We’re Not Talking is full of e•mo•tion and teenage malaise, and “Make Time 4 Life” might be the band’s masterpiece so far: It’s a song full of tiny moments of young love, both flourishing and dissipating. This was the best album to overthink your life to this year.

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Band Members
James Harrison, Louis Forster, Riley Jones

The Goon Sax

Still in high school when they made their first album Up To Anything in 2016, their brand of awkwardly transcendent teenage guitar pop took them into end of year lists for BBC6, Billboard and Rough Trade, and earned them raves from the Guardian, Pitchfork, Spin, Uncut, Rolling Stone and elsewhere. According to Metacritic, Up To Anything was the 8th best-reviewed debut album anywhere in the world in 2016.

Up To Anything, their 2016 debut from Brisbane, Australia group The Goon Sax, was a brilliant reminder of indie pop’s effectiveness when it’s distilled to its simplest form: loose, jangling guitars and wry, understated vocals. But when it came time for the trio to record what became their second album, We’re Not Talking, each member of the band found themselves pondering the definition of “pop,” and how it related to the ways they wanted to develop their sound.

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“Pop’s a really odd thing,” says bassist/guitarist/vocalist Louis Forster (who is the son of Robert Forster of The Go-Betweens). “I think some people just see [pop] as something sounding polished and ultimately very accessible. But I think pop’s something that exists in a lot of forms, in all kinds of music. On jazz records, there are parts that are really poppy. I guess our idea of pop is a very westernized thing, and it comes out in funny forms; to me, [pop] satisfies something human and subconscious—or it should.”

Accordingly, We’re Not Talkingbalances the band’s usual laser-focused emotional acuity and economical instrumentation with a more expansive take on pop formalism. The keening opening song, “Make Time 4 Love,” boasts insistent cowbell, delicate strings, and jaunty horns; “Sleep EZ” joins delicate, harmony-rich choruses indebted to ‘80s U.K. dreampop to a contorted bridge that boasts a spurt of disco-punk beats, wherein Forster stutter-sings like a skipping LP; and the fierce, emotionally wrecked highlight “She Knows” charges forward on turbulent strings and livewire bass grooves. Even the more straightforward, strummy acoustic-pop songs boast more (and different) hues; the lovely “We Can’t Win,” for example, adds mournful piano and glassy twinkles of percussion into the mix.

“We wanted to make this record more collaboratively,” says Forster. “We had more ideas and more things that we wanted to try out.”

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We’re Not Talking shows how much can change between the ages of 17 and 19. It’s a record that takes the enthusiasms of youth and twists them into darker, more sophisticated shapes, full of lines like “When the bus went past your house and past your stop my eyes filled with tears” and “I’ve got a few things above my bed but it feels so empty, I’ve got spaces to fill and we’re not talking.” Relationships are now laced with hesitation, remorse, misunderstanding and ultimately compassion.

Strings, horns, even castanets sneak their way onto the album, but We’re Not Talking isn’t glossy throwaway pop. Sounds stick out at surprising angles, cow-bells become lead instruments and brief home-recorded fragments appear unexpectedly. This is a record made by restless artists, defying expectations as if hardly noticing, and its complexity makes We’re Not Talking even more of a marvel.

Forster and his bandmates bassist/guitarist James Harrison and drummer/vocalist Riley Jones were determined to push themselves on We’re Not Talking. Forster cites Scott Walker’s Scott 4 and the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds as inspirations, as well as the work of ESG, Liquid Liquid, and Jenny Hval. “I really like how [Jenny Hval’s] record had those bits where everything sort of drops back, and it’s just spoken word,” he explains. “We were very obsessed with making something very honest, and she does that really, really well in her lyrics. They’re incredible.”

Jones spent much of the recording sessions trying to funnel her love for Tall Dwarfs’ Chris Knox into the final product. “I’d always be like, ‘Chris Knox reference, Chris Knox reference,’” she laughs, “and it just didn’t really come across. I don’t know if anyone else was behind [the idea], but I was just very inspired by him as a pop songwriter.”

The slippery definition of “pop music” was another topic of intra-band debate during the recording process. On Talking, the group worked with outside producers—Architecture In Helsinki vocalist Cameron Bird and the band’s former drummer/keyboardist/guitarist James Cecil.

“We wanted it to be more polished and poppier than the last [album],” Jones says. “We tried to explain to them what we wanted, but I think they really had different ideas about it, so it was a bit tough sometimes. We were all pushing for things, and we couldn’t communicate or couldn’t find a middle ground.”

Those clashing ideas didn’t undermine the final product, but they did give the band more insight into the ways they approach their career—and the possibilities available to them as a result. “When I said we wanted it to be more poppy,’ they were like, ‘OK, poppy,’ and then they had this completely different idea of pop,” Jones recalls. “I just had no idea that things could be that clean and so produced.”

Adds Forster: “Sometimes you forget that there are words that other people have a very different version of, you know? To us, ‘pop’ probably meant something worlds away from what other people would think. We think quite similarly sometimes, the three of us—we often think that because all three of us are on the same wavelength about something, it must be very obvious to anybody else, when it’s not.”

This deep, personal connection dates back to before the Goon Sax’s 2013 inception, when Forster and Harrison forged a fast friendship thanks to their shared musical interests (the Raincoats, the Clean, the Fall, Marine Girls) and—to borrow Jones’ phrasing similarly “silly” personalities; five years in, those personal bonds continue to provide a much-needed buffer against the trials of being in a band. “After the last tour, I was like, ‘Oh my God, can’t wait to get away from these guys,’” Jones recalls, adding with a laugh: “[I was] really ready for break, and then on day two, I was like, ‘Hey guys, are you doing anything today? Do you want to hang out, maybe?’ I just missed them.”

As the Goon Sax gear up for yet another tour—they’ll be spending the fall playing throughout England and North America—they remain cognizant of (and confident about) where they want their band to go in the future. To that end, We’re Not Talking is not so much a bridge to the next career milestone: it’s more like a roadmap.

“I definitely learned that I don’t want anyone to tell me what to do anymore,” Jones says. “We really thought, like, ‘Oh, we’re young, we probably need some grown-ups giving us some good advice.’ But I just want to be free to create stuff naturally, and to push it really far.”

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Brisbane nervy pop champs The Goon Sax have just released We Can’t Win, a heart-wrenchingly beautiful new song from their second album We’re Not Talkingwhich comes out September 14th.

As soon as the album comes out, they take off on their biggest international tour yet, taking in UK, Europe and the US from September through November. Taken from the fothcoming album, We’re Not Talking (out Sep 14 on LP, CD and digital) via Wichita Recordings and Chapter Music (Aus/NZ).

We’re also going to be doing another tour. we’ll be doing shows in Europe and America after that. Here’s those dates:

Mon 17 September – Hug & Pint, Glasgow UK
Tue 18 September – Headrow House, Leeds UK
Thu 20 September – Hare & Hounds, Birmingham UK

Band Members
James Harrison, Louis Forster, Riley Jones

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This group of teenagers from Brisbane could be your favorite new band. The Goon Sax frontman Louis Forster sings with a David Byrne-like delivery when he says the line that won me over, to his tenuous lover: “Let’s get nervous in your room again.” That’s the moment I turned up the volume.

As often as songs tackle the subject of love, (the wanting, the yearning, the rejection) what’s often missing is earnestness. The Goon Sax are full of that and a dose of humor as well. “Make Time 4 Love” is a song about defeat. Louis Forster wrote to say it’s also about “learning to live with yourself and accepting that everyone’s impulses seem irrational to someone else.”

Musically the Australian trio of James Harrison, Louis Forster and Riley Jones, takes creative impulse from ’80s, punky dance bands. “It was really inspired by [the bands] ESG and Liquid, Liquid, who we were all listening to a whole lot. And we just wanted to make the song really dancey.” In fact, Louis Forster’s dad was in a band from that time period that did pretty well, The Go-Betweens.

The video for “Make Time 4 Love” is directed by Ryan Daniel Browne and is inspired in part by a 1926 animated German fairytale, The Adventures of Prince Achmed, as well as by the 1968 Hungarian animated short, The Kidnapping of the Sun and the Moon.The video takes place in three worlds,” says Louis Forster. “Wicked, regular, and a third – removed fantasy.” It also draws some of its dark imagery from album art. “The album covers of Tilt and The Drift by Scott Walker were another critical clue for us, and Riley actually bought a copy of Tilt on tour which we listened to and it got us in the right head space.”

Taken from the fothcoming album, We’re Not Talking (out September 14th on LP, CD and digital) via Wichita Recordings and Chapter Music

The Goon Sax are headed to UK/Europe in September/October to celebrate the September 14th release of their second album We’re Not Talking.

There’s a lot going on for The Goon SaxShe Knows, the scorching first single from their wonderful and devastating second album We’re Not Talking has just been released. The album is available from the lovely people at Wichita recordings

The band are about to embark on a European tour with Franke Cosmos, a sold out headline show in London and their first US tour.

The Goon Sax are James Harrison, Louis Forster and Riley Jones from Brisbane. The band were Still in high school when they made their first album Up To Anything in 2016, their brand of awkwardly transcendent teenage guitar pop took them into end of year lists for BBC 6Music, Billboard and Rough Trade, and earned them rave reviews from the Guardian, Pitchfork, Spin, Uncut, Rolling Stone and elsewhere. According to Metacritic, Up To Anything was the 8th best-reviewed debut album anywhere in the world in 2016.

We are beyond delighted to welcome The Goon Sax to the Wichita family!