For some time now, Indie Rock players within a broad genre range have explored the acoustic Folk side project to somehow prove their diversity, depth and authenticity. Good Old War doesn’t really fit that construct; guitarist/vocalist Keith Goodwin and drummer/vocalist Tim Arnold decided against revisiting their Prog/Pop direction when their previous group Days Away collapsed. Instead, the duo crafted a contemporary Folk/Pop sound and with the addition of Unlikely Cowboy guitarist/vocalist Dan Schwartz, the trio Good Old War was born. (The band’s name comes from the players’ surnames; it’s a word puzzle, so figure it out).
GOW’s 2008 debut, Only Way to Be Alone, enjoyed more than a little acclaim, but the band’s eponymous sophomore album, released this past summer, might not only be the better of the two but could find plenty of support in the coming weeks as critics compile their end-of-year lists.
The second Good Old War album begins with “GOOD,” a lilting little instrumental that sounds like an Americana version of Juluka, and starts a sequence that punctuates the album (“OLD” follows a few tracks later and “WAR” closes the set). Unlike so many bands who wear their Folk/Americana detours like momentary fashion, Good Old War are more interested in finding the places where their old roots intersect with their new direction, and that’s where the band’s sound becomes compelling and fun. And while it’s not necessarily a completely original concept, Good Old War does an amazing job of creating a fresh take on the idea with brilliantly crisp musicianship and heavenly vocal harmonies.
Mining nuggets from Pop/Rock’s richest veins — everything from The Beatles (“While I’m Away”) to Paul Simon (“That’s Some Dream”) to Roger McGuinn (“My Own Sinking Ship”) — and then using that raw ore to produce a gorgeous and unique new mineral, Good Old War has managed the rare feat of sounding classic and contemporary, simultaneously.
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