This Kent, Ohio group’s latest release is something of an odd wonder. Throughout A Long Good Friday, the All Golden manage to incorporate such influences as My Bloody Valentine, Mercury Rev, and even mid-’60s garage rock. This makes for a pretty eclectic mix, and quite a listen as these guys actually pull off all the aforementioned sounds while still sounding genuine and more than capable.
Formed in 1999 by lead vocalist and guitarist Chris Sheehan, the All Golden embarked on their maiden voyage. Also in tow were Scott Bennett, also on vocals and guitar, drummer Craig Lisik, and bassist Dave Neeson. The band released their first single “Velikovsky” on the Bubblegum Smile imprint in 2000. Shortly afterward, Neeson and Lisik left, being replaced by Joel McAdams and Charlie Druesedow respectively.
“Your Bad Wires” opens A Long Good Friday. It opens with clean, double-tracked vocals and electric guitar before quickly giving way to a high pitched drone wailing away in the background and murky drums that sound like they were recorded down in someone’s cellar. Reminiscent of any of the excellent soundscapes found on My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, “Your Bad Wires” is only the tip of the iceberg. Nothing else on the album sounds quite like it.
The second tune, “Bright” enters the Mercury Rev territory. And what’s so odd about the whole thing is that it sounds like Rev past and present. That means you’ll hear the influence from Yerself Is Steem to Deserter’s Songs lurking about in the five minutes it takes to hear the song. An insistent synth riff keeps plugging away, driving the song into an almost maddening climax, but the damn thing works, and that’s all that matters.
Then there’s the single “Velikovsky” that has an oddly thin production to it that sounds tightly compressed. But again, for these guys, the sound works as the drums and cymbals push through the production and some creepy sounding pretty synth notes perk up here and there. The whole thing has a very demo-like quality to it, but it’s top-notch nevertheless. Likewise, the slow drone of “Northern Lights” lunges along on its piano rhythms while all the sound comes mostly out of the left channel. An odd bit of mixing, to say the least, as it echoes stereo’s early days when most of the guitars and so forth would be put on the left channel and the drums and bass on the right.
Best song title goes to “Tom Collins (Genius Isn’t a Mixed Drink)”. On top of that, the whole song has a spacey quality, thanks to its ethereal sounding keyboards and guitars that seem to spin off in all different directions. It sounds like a lost psychedelic masterpiece transplanted into ’90s style college rock. It then jumps to “The Water Is Rising”, an acoustic guitar track featuring Moog-like synth squiggles that bands like Air are so fond of. But here, the sounds are surreal and work greatly, rather than just acting as some kind of novelty act for cheesy effect.
The organ-drenched “Sleepwalking” is where the All Golden tip their hats to all those great garage rockers of the ’60s. Thunderous drumming, wah-wah guitars, Byrds-like harmonies, and an overall sense of acid trippiness imbues the song perfectly and easily earmarks it as a highlight of the album. The organs are used again to full effect on the creepy “Smoking’s the Last Sin” which sounds like a cross between 10cc’s artier experiments and Ween’s masterful melodic experiments on White Pepper.
“Land of Lincoln” sports Leslie effects from hell. Everything from the guitars and vocals to the piano is soaked in the effect. Near the end some weird Mellotron sounds creep in. It’s as if “Strawberry Fields Forever” took a really bad trip and wound up twisted on the other side somewhere else. But funny enough, the album ends on the straight-forward “Halfway Down”, with acoustic guitars and great vocal harmonies before being capped off with the short instrumental “Innovation in Miniature”.
For a time in music when more psychedelic experiments in rock have taken a back seat, the All Golden and A Long Good Friday is certainly a welcome sound. This band takes the best of psych and done elements and creates something entirely new with them, which is a nice accomplishment in itself. It will be interesting to see which direction the band takes next. They certainly seem like they don’t have any shortage of good ideas. Even if they stick with this pattern, A Long Good Friday will stand as a really fine album in a class by itself.