[2 February 2007]
Some genres of music sound great when recorded DIY. Alt-country seems to gain authenticity from tape hiss and bumps into microphone stands, while punk-pop is best served trebly and inarticulate. Lansing, Michigan’s the Good Mornings, however, are undercut by guitarist Jason Lantry’s self-production. Fronted by singer-songwriter Carmen Paradise (who, despite the name, sounds too much like Edie Brickell to be a stripper), the Good Mornings deal in Americana-tinged, atmospheric pop-rock. The music yearns to be more evocative than it is. They go for a hazy Mazzy Star vibe, only to fall a little flat. Actually, though, if this disc didn’t show so much promise, these limitations wouldn’t be so frustrating. I want Lantry’s E-bowed guitar to bleed all across “California”, to bathe my brain in the glare of smog-refracted sunlight. Instead, the sound sits quietly in one corner of the mix, while Paradise’s lovely, lazy vocals feel confined to another small room entirely. The track on this eponymous debut with the worst title ends up being the best song: “That’s fo’ Sho’” is a honey-slow honky ditty with plenty of that longed-for atmosphere coming from the huge reverb of a lap-steel guitar. Mostly, though, while quite pleasant, The Good Mornings doesn’t have enough sonic depth or crackle to lure you inside its limited ambience. Recorded more dynamically, this could’ve been a much stronger album. As is, it’s a nice enough taste of things to come.