The GoodBars, I’m not sure what the name means. Is it in reference to good bars/measures of retro punk style music? Is it a reference to the music bars in the Twin Cities? Or is it referring to something like a candy bar; it’s good, it’s tasty, it goes down easy and you want to taste a little more with each bite?
The GoodBars are out of the Twin Cities and play gigs all over the area – everything from the hipster bars, to dive bars to the bigger halls. And there’s a reason – their music is easy to digest and enjoy on a more universal level than a large number of local talent in the area.
I was at their CD release in December at Amsterdam Bar in St. Paul, MN, and it was nearly packed house of people ready to throw down and jam out to some pure rock with a classic punk tone. The first thing I thought when I watched them on stage was that The GoodBars have a sort of Social Distortion (circa late 80’s/90’s) look and feel to them. I should also make mention that I listened to and critiqued this album when it came out in December, and then stepped away so I could come back to it with a fresher, less "omg, that was a great show" state of mind....and I still like this album 2 months later.
Listening to the album, it’s the same feel as the live show. The guitar riffs are tasty and remind me of something Mike Ness would’ve sung along to. The guitar riffs coming from the rigs of Clinton Maxon and Michael Rumore are dialed in nicely. I really like the guitar tones on this album; a very clear picture of the overdriven punk rock guitar, no muddiness, good definition – solid tone.
Todd Jameson’s bass walks along in songs like “Fade” and stays in a tight groove with the straight, pure rock beats provided by drummer Bart Klassen. It’s a very tight rhythm section – on both the album and live on stage. They keep a good grove behind the guitar riffs and RJ Lubrant’s vocals.
When I threw this album on, my first impression of RJ’s vocals was that he must secretly be the former lead singer of The Cult. Putting those vocals with these instrumental parts, it sounds like a concoction of The Cult and Social Distortion.
I would say that my favorite track on the album, which I thought they blew out with a great live performance at the CD release show, is ”Alive”. Check that song out, it’s got a great drive to it – everything just syncs up nicely and gives the song a great edge. I’d say this is the best song on the album, hands down.
The biggest thing to walk away from this album is that it captures a very pure, natural sound. It doesn’t sound like a band relying on computers to make them sound better than they actually are – this sounds like a REAL band putting out a REAL album. It sounds like how a real record should sound – pure, real, and kinda raw. My only gripe with The GoodBars’ self-titled album is that it sounds cleaner than their live show and doesn’t convey the same energy they put out on stage. And I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, it's the type of thing only a live recording can capture. This album is a good album, and their live show kicks up the energy more than a studio recording could, and it gets people hooked on the band, the live show, and the tunes they have to offer.
My suggestion – go to a GoodBars show and enjoy the live show in its purest form, and while you’re there, pick up a copy of their CD (even though you can find it through multiple online retailers) and throw it on in the car and at home – you’ll enjoy it, and find yourself liking them on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/theGooDBarS) and heading out to one of the next shows because it’s just really good rock to take in and enjoy live and sample again at home or in the car.