Label: Sargent House Release date: 01/07/10 Link: Official Site Buy: Amazon When confronted with any artist from the Sargent House family, the first thoughts are the math rock blasts of Tera Melos or El Grupo Nuevo, the post-rock/metal washes of Russian Circles and Red Sparowes, or the What-The-Fuck awesomeness of bands like Fang Island and bygones. And while all these bands are things I love and part of the reason why Sargent House gets respect, it still remains a ballsy move to take the indie folk band Good Old War on to the roster. Not only does the band manage to carve out a niche on the label with their second offering (a self-titled disc), Good Old War manages to become a distinct voice in indie folk with impressive consistency in song writing, delivery, and ability. While the primary ethos of Good Old War resides somewhere between Americana bent folk and somewhat typical indie in regards to song writing, the end result places itself outside of these forces. Instead, Good Old War places itself as something akin to a keyboard-less Blitzen Trapper or a Bird-less Bowl Of Fire. All songs on the disc pulse with intimate truth, maybe because of the honesty in Keith Goodwin’s voice (a delicate yet forceful tenor somewhere between Mangum and Jeremy Earl), but probably because of the precise production that favours tight drums and roomy vocals – an effect that almost grants the album binaural properties for songs like ‘My Own Sinking Ship’ and ‘My Name’s Sorrow.’ Frustrating moments like ‘Woody’s Hood Boogie Woogie’ are far and few between, with ‘Woody’s Hood’ being the only truly insufferable song on the album, not because of the lyrics (which are actually not at all bad and quite clever) but because of the trite typical shit-kicking boogie backing that the band crafted. “I’m gonna live, I’m all right/I’m gonna die, it’s all right/I’m okay,” the band harmonizes on ‘Thats Some Dream’ crafting a chorus that is catchy in a bizarre Neutral Eerie Dylan hybrid that doesn’t really combine any of these artists, but rather manages to take the calling cards and mild tinges of those acts and channel them into the singular sound that dominates this self-titled release. The three tracks ‘GOOD,’ ‘OLD,’ and ‘WAR’ form a miniature suite showcasing each band member’s skills quite nicely. ‘GOOD’ lets Goodwin’s simple yet skilful guitar and vocal parts blend into a small chorus, ‘OLD’ lets Tim Arnold focus on rhythmic elements usually omitted from the album (hand percussion, heavy tambourine, etc.), and ‘WAR’ finally shows Dan Schwartz’s dexterity with a small Lindsey Buckingham-esque rumination on solo acoustic – an ending piece that wraps up everything quite nicely. Yes, there’s plenty of comparison here. None if it is meant in any way to devalue to mark Good Old War as a band who are in any way derivative, but rather it’s been made clear in this release who the band’s influences are. It’s nice to hear the massive steps this band has made with one album towards carving out their niche in a genre ridden with imitations and poor song writing. Hopefully this album will propel them towards more notice and even better song writing. I hope everyone who gets their hands on these still has a walkman kicking about somewhere! Photobucket