Anyone who has spent time in Bloomington, Indiana, knows that it is a melting pot for fun, interesting, and incredible live music. Bands flock to and from this city from all over for multiple reasons. There are awesome venues like the Buskirk-Chumley Theater and Bluebird Nightclub, recording studios like Russian Recording and Echo Park, the Jacobs School of Music, and events like the Lotus World Music Festival. There are always tons of opportunities to perform and grow as musicians. Even basement shows are big deals here. But more importantly are the amazing bands themselves and no band stole my heart this past year like Good Luck.
Good Luck’s Into Lake Griffy was an amazing 13-track release from a trio of powerful musicians, three I consider some of Bloomington’s finest. Every song on that album was just exploding with energy, passion, and talent that no listener can deny. With Ginger Alford on bass, Matt Tobey on guitar, and Mike Harpring rocking the drums this band creates so much sound, even their simplest songs are bursting with flavor, smiles and sweetness like a Starburst. Put this album in on a roadtrip and you are set. From the catchy “How To Live Here” to the inspirational “1001 Open Hands” this album will have you singing along and reflecting on how you got to where you are today. The sound is a mix of booming punk, stylistic guitar work, and indie pop goodness with verses that just steal your emotions about topics like summertime, growing up, love, hanging out with your friends and being grateful.
Besides the incredible musicianship and the band’s massive sound, I really love the songs. The songwriting skills of this band are spot on. They know how to say what they want and keep it simple, no big words or complicated verses. But it’s the delivery of those lyrics and themes in their vocal and musical styles that really makes the songs jump out at you. Take “West Wind Ride” for instance: “I saw the planets align, and that got me wondering. I hopped the West Wind and held on tight, for a hundred nights.” The words are simple to understand and you are thinking of space and stars and traveling on a wind right? Now listen to it along with the music:
(This is a live recording at the WIUX Station so the sounds a little rough, but you should get the idea)
The band has great skill in crafting songs with simple themes we can all relate to, in such an honest way that you just kind of absorb the lyrics as if they were telling your own story. I feel that way whenever I hear “Same Stories” which is basically just about memories and your longtime friends. They’ve got songs with more serious themes like “Hey Matt”, “1001 Open Hands” and “Stone Cathedral” which really touch on the challenges we all go through in find ourselves, being afraid of what the future holds, and letting go of dark pasts in order to look forward to more positive things.The classic “Pajammin'” is all about summer in Bloomington, which is about the best experience that anyone who finds themselves able should do, especially while they are a student. For once you get to see the town as just Bloomington, no gimmicks and all the out-of-towner college students are gone. No traffic, great music, and the weather is perfect for walking or biking. Whether Matt or Ginger are singing lead vocals on a track, the songs are just as powerful and effective. But if you want to hear the band a little more stripped down, there is a version of “Stars Were Exploding” where Matt handles the vocals on track #12 “Bringing Them Back to Life“.
It’s really hard for me to pick through the album because the entire thing is just fantastic. The music, the lyrics, the band, it’s the total package of what I want from a band. And did I mention the band?? They are just about the nicest people you could ever hang with. Every time I see them they are smiling and having a good time. They put on a great live show and have great chemistry. They always let their personalities show onstage, and love to tell you what their songs are all about.
I don’t really know what else to say about this band or this album except if you like what you hear, please take the opportunity to see them live, because it is that much more explosive in person. The music is amazing, the songs are spectacular, and I expect great things for this band. Russian Recording did an amazing job capturing the essence of this band on Into Lake Griffy and it is an album I recommend highly to anyone who is a fan of music.
First Time Listener Recommendations: “Public Radio”, “Stars Were Exploding”, “Sleep With No Bad Dreams”, “West Wind Ride”, “Pajammin'”
“1001 Open Hands” at the John Waldron Arts Center Block Party in Bloomington. Courtesy of If You Make It