Music

The Go Find: Brand New Love

Sadly, not every attempt at a new formula is a winning one, and fans of the group might find themselves nodding off to a good chunk of this record.


The Go Find

Brand New Love

Label: Morr Music
US Release Date: 2014-02-18
UK Release Date: 2014-02-17
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The last time we checked in on Belgium’s the Go Find – which is essentially Dieter Sermeus and whomever he wants to play with – the band, as such, was at its most successful on a song called “It’s Automatic”, which seemed to be a cast-off Todd Rundgren pop gem. That song, taken from 2010’s Everybody Knows It’s Gonna Happen Only Not Tonight, was the highlight of that album, and I noticed that one of my friends even posted the track to Facebook. (Not sure I can take full credit for that, but it just goes to show that the song appeared to have a rather broad reach.) Well, it’s four years later, and it seems that Sermeus and company have been listening to, um, Sebadoh. And soft rock. Yes, the title of this album is taken from a classic indie rock gem, and that’s not all. There’s a track on this latest effort, Brand New Love, called “On the Rebound” and you know and I know that that’s a rather close approximation of another Lou Barlow and friends song. But there’s a certain nature to this record that is carefree and easy going, and it’s full of what I would classify as slow jamz. Basically, the Go Find should be sending Toto, Steely Dan, and the ilk a nice fat royalty check, as there’s a certain lite radio formula that this outfit seems to be reaching for. Sadly, not every attempt at this new formula is a winning one, and fans of the group might find themselves nodding off to a good chunk of this record. This is music meant for the chill-out room, not the main dance hall.

But before I get into deficiencies, I want to talk about this album’s strengths. When it goes uptempo, mildly uptempo, as it does on “Japan”, it comes close to reaching the heights of “It’s Automatic”. Close, but no cigar. Still, there’s a nice skronky saxophone that scats over the end of the track, and even if the lyrics are a little confused – first, it’s talking about Japan, then Berlin, then New York – it’s still a rewarding little pop nugget. In fact, it’s generally the songs in the latter half of the record that work best – and “Japan” is one of them. “Summer Boys” has a great Postal Service vibe going for it, which might make it a plus for those hoping that that band gets around to dropping a sophomore album. “On the Rebound” offers lilting female vocals and a tiny music box organ, and offers some of the album’s best bon mots: “I told you secrets nobody believed / I adored the dreams you’ve built around me / Oh no, where do I go from here?” And “The Message” has a nice country rock riff to it: the sort of thing the Eagles might have pulled off if only they had had more electronic rock sensibilities.

But it is the front half of the record that is largely the most disappointing. Opener “Jungle Heart” tries for a Roxy Music-esque vibe and doesn’t quite pull it off – although there is a rather nice keyboard break at 1:38 into the piece that gives it an avant-garde feeling. “The Lobby” is more Marvin Gaye “Sexual Healing” territory than “What’s Goin’ On”. First single “We Run” really runs nowhere and just is as flaccid as a limp male member after a dip in cold water. “Your Heart” is similarly not catchy, and just glides along on an effortless organ line. “We Promised Together”, at least, offers a paint-peeling shimmery guitar line that recalls the best work of the Cure. But the album goes out on a whimper: “The River” (shades of the Boss, anyone?) is just a languid, uninteresting ballad that fizzles any Bic lighter anthem abilities.

All in all, Brand New Love is ... boring. And bland. And oatmeal. Without a clear-cut standout track like “It’s Automatic”, this record sees the group take a monumental leap backward. It would have easily benefited from a more upbeat and punchy song or two to make things really pop and standout. As it stands, Brand New Love is about as interesting as watching paint dry, which is saying something when you base your record, at least in part, on a vibrant and vital band such as Sebadoh, at least in that outfit’s ‘90s glory days. All in all, Brand New Love is a virtual snoozefest, a record loaded with listless ballads that don’t move the listener, and show that Sermeus might just very well be little more than a one-hit wonder. This record is not outright horrible, but it exists in that middle, gray zone of mediocrity and nary achieves liftoff during its 10 song running time. It used to be that the Go Find had an amazing song called “It’s Automatic”. With Brand New Love, the Go Find prove that it’s still automatic. Automatic pilot, that is.

5

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Editor's Note: Originally published 30 July 2014.

10. “Bedlam in Belgium”
(Flick of the Switch, 1983)

This is a massively underrated barnstormer from the boys off the much-maligned (unfairly, I think) Flick of the Switch. The album was missing Mutt Lange, but the Youngs did have his very capable engineer, Tony Platt, as co-producer in the studio at Compass Point in the Bahamas. Tony’s a real pro. I think he did a perfectly fine job on this album, which also features the slamming “Nervous Shakedown”.

But what I find most interesting about “Bedlam in Belgium” is that it’s based on a fracas that broke out on stage in Kontich, Belgium, in 1977, involving Bon Scott, the rest of the band, and the local authorities. AC/DC had violated a noise curfew and things got hairy.

Yet Brian Johnson, more than half a decade later, wrote the lyrics with such insight; almost as if he was the one getting walloped by the Belgian police: He gave me a crack in the back with his gun / Hurt me so bad I could feel the blood run. Cracking lyrics, Bon-esque. Unfortunately for Brian, he was removed from lyric-writing duties from The Razors Edge (1990) onwards. All songs up to and including 2008’s Black Ice are Young/Young compositions.

Who’ll be writing the songs on the new album AC/DC has been working on in Vancouver? AC/DC fans can’t wait to hear them. Nor can I.

 
9. “Spellbound”
(For Those About to Rock We Salute You, 1981)

"Spellbound" really stands as a lasting monument to the genius of Mutt Lange, a man whose finely tuned ear and attention to detail filed the rough edges of Vanda & Young–era AC/DC and turned this commercially underperforming band for Atlantic Records into one of the biggest in the world. On “Spellbound” AC/DC sounds truly majestic. Lange just amplifies their natural power an extra notch. It’s crisp sounding, laden with dynamics and just awesome when Angus launches into his solo.

“Spellbound” is the closer on For Those About to Rock We Salute You, the last album Lange did with AC/DC, so chronologically it’s a significant song; it marks the end of an important era. For Those About to Rock was an unhappy experience for a lot of people. There was a lot of blood being spilled behind the scenes. It went to number one in the US but commercially was a massive disappointment after the performance of Back in Black. Much of the blame lies at the feet of Atlantic Records, then under Doug Morris, who made the decision to exhume an album they’d shelved in 1976, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, and release it in-between Back in Black and For Those About to Rock.

In the book Phil Carson, who signed AC/DC to Atlantic, calls it “one of the most crass decisions ever made by a record-company executive” and believes it undermined sales of For Those About to Rock.


 
8. “Down Payment Blues”
(Powerage, 1978)

This is one of the best songs off Powerage -- perhaps the high point of Bon Scott as a lyricist -- but also significant for its connection to “Back in Black”. There are key lines in it: Sitting in my Cadillac / Listening to my radio / Suzy baby get on in / Tell me where she wanna go / I'm living in a nightmare / She's looking like a wet dream / I got myself a Cadillac / But I can't afford the gasoline.

Bon loved writing about Cadillacs. He mentions them in “Rocker” off the Australian version of TNT and the international release of Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap: Got slicked black hair / Skin tight jeans / Cadillac car and a teenage dream.

Then you get to “Back in Black”. Bon’s dead but the lyrics have this spooky connection to “Down Payment Blues”: Back in the back / Of a Cadillac / Number one with a bullet, I’m a power pack.

Why was Brian singing about riding around in Cadillacs? He’d just joined AC/DC, wasn’t earning a lot and was on his best behavior. Bon had a reason to be singing about money. He was writing all the songs and just had a breakthrough album with Highway to Hell. Which begs the question: Could Bon also have written or part written the lyrics to “Back in Black”?

Bon’s late mother Isa said in 2006: “The last time we saw him was Christmas ’79, two months before he died. [Bon] told me he was working on the Back in Black album and that that was going to be it; that he was going to be a millionaire.”

 
7. “You Shook Me All Night Long”
(Back in Black, 1980)

Everyone knows and loves this song; it’s played everywhere. Shania Twain and Celine Dion have covered it. It’s one of AC/DC’s standbys. But who wrote it?

Former Mötley Crüe manager Doug Thaler is convinced Bon Scott, who’d passed away before the album was recorded, being replaced by Brian Johnson, wrote the lyrics. In fact he told me, “You can bet your life that Bon Scott wrote the lyrics to ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’.” That’s a pretty strong statement from a guy who used to be AC/DC’s American booking agent and knew the band intimately. I look into this claim in some depth in the book and draw my own conclusions.

I’m convinced Bon wrote it. In my opinion only Bon would have written a line like “She told me to come but I was already there.” Brian never matched the verve or wit of Bon in his lyrics and it’s why I think so much of AC/DC’s mid-'80s output suffers even when the guitar work of the Youngs was as good as it ever was.

But what’s also really interesting about this song in light of the recent hullabaloo over Taurus and Led Zeppelin is how much the opening guitar riff sounds similar to Head East’s “Never Been Any Reason”. I didn’t know a hell of a lot about Head East before I started working on this book, but came across “Never Been Any Reason” in the process of doing my research and was blown away when I heard it for the first time. AC/DC opened for Head East in Milwaukee in 1977. So the two bands crossed paths.

 
6. “Rock ’N’ Roll Damnation”
(Powerage, 1978)

It’s hard to get my head around the fact Mick Wall, the British rock writer and author of AC/DC: Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be, called this “a two-bit piece of head-bopping guff.” Not sure what track he was listening to when he wrote that -- maybe he was having a bad day -- but for me it’s one of the last of AC/DC’s classic boogie tracks and probably the best.

Mark Evans loves it almost as much as he loves “Highway to Hell". It has everything you want in an AC/DC song plus shakers, tambourines and handclaps, a real Motown touch that George Young and Harry Vanda brought to bear on the recording. They did something similar with the John Paul Young hit “Love Is in the Air”. Percussion was an underlying feature of many early AC/DC songs. This one really grooves. I never get tired of hearing it.

“Rock ’n’ Roll Damnation” was AC/DC’s first hit in the UK charts and a lot of the credit has to go to Michael Klenfner, best known as the fat guy with the moustache who stops Jake and Elwood backstage in the final reel of The Blues Brothers and offers them a recording contract. He was senior vice-president at Atlantic at the time, and insisted the band go back and record a radio-worthy single after they delivered the first cut of Powerage to New York.

Michael was a real champion of AC/DC behind the scenes at Atlantic, and never got the recognition he was due while he was still alive (he passed away in 2009). He ended up having a falling out with Atlantic president Jerry Greenberg over the choice of producer for Highway to Hell and got fired. But it was Klenfner who arguably did more for the band than anyone else while they were at Atlantic. His story deserves to be known by the fans.

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