The Good News avoids sonic clatter

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      You’d expect there to be an uncomfortable silence after the Good News’s guitarist, Hayz Fisher, admits that he didn’t expect his bandmate, Rodrigo Gonzalez, to win the group’s auditions for a singer. Gonzalez, seated next to Fisher on a weathered picnic bench in a Main Street area park, doesn’t seem bothered by the rather awkward revelation, though.

      “Colleen has a great voice,” Gonzalez says of the girl Fisher fancied as the front-runner in the 2007 casting session, which was held by Good News founder and guitarist Trevor Risk. Happy to sing Gonzalez’s praises—even if the dashing singer is too modest to do so himself—Risk pipes in: “I was thinking about a female singer, but Rodrigo was better than every female singer I met. He had this great swagger to him.”

      Gathered to toast the band’s new record, You People Have Carpet on Your Hearts, the guys are in high spirits on this day. And why shouldn’t they be? The local six-piece—which also includes bassist Daniel Knowlton, keyboardist Natalie Vermeer, and drummer Philip Alexander Harbut III—was once convinced that Vancouver had very little interest in the type of jangly pop it played. As it turns out, that isn’t the case.

      “I never thought anyone in the city would really take to it,” Risk says of the Good News’s cheery sound. “At the time, this city was very much enthralled with bands making noise.”

      The members of the Good News were initially skeptical about how its style would be received by a city enamoured of disorientating feedback. But following the trail blazed by the New Pornographers—another local act that won over listeners with infectious melodies and warm production—Gonzalez and his cohorts have found that not everyone is looking for sonic clatter.

      “For the first time since I’ve lived here, I’ve seen people really rally around this type of music,” says Risk, an Ontario native who moved out West eight years ago. “It’s really great to see people like the Hastings Set doing their thing, and a lot of other bands that actually have verses and choruses and stuff.”

      A sunny affair bursting with catchy hooks, You People Have Carpet on Your Hearts will coax a grin out of even the most surly listener. On the harmonica-infused opener “I’ll Never Lead You On”, Gonzalez’s enchanting Morrissey-esque croon sets the tone for the often stunning collection of pop songs that follows. From the pretty boy-girl harmonies that carry along the dreamy “Going Away Party” to the toe-tapping keys and boisterous chorus on the bouncy “My Cross to Bear”, the band never stumbles.

      Given Gonzalez’s obvious admiration for Moz, it’s fitting that the Good News enlisted the Manchester troubadour’s former drummer Woodie Taylor to mix the new disc. While the veteran musician may have dialled back the doubled vocal and power-pop drums that marked the Good News’s eponymous 2008 debut, he certainly didn’t mess with the collective’s chemistry. The connection between the six musicians is obvious on You People Have Carpet on Your Hearts. And this is what Gonzalez loves most about the recording. “It captures those intimate moments,” he says.

      Fans eager to give the record a listen will be hyped to hear that Tegan Quin—one half of indie-rock sister sensation Tegan and Sara—has already given the new material a glowing review.

      “I was talking with her today, e-mailing back and forth, and she said she was on her third listen and loves the songs,” says Fisher, who’s excited by the feedback. “It’s totally flattering that this person, who has toured the world and has fantastic songs, likes your music. You’re like, ”˜What?’ ”

      With such attention, the Good News is clearly on the right track.

      Still, one can’t help wondering what a few spins of You People Have Carpet on Your Hearts at clubs around town would do for the outfit’s profile. After all, as a busy DJ, Risk is in a prime position to slip on a few of his band’s tracks here and there, during any of the nights he regularly plays at throughout the city. And isn’t that what the music industry is all about—opportunism?

      Risk actually winces at the suggestion. “I once saw the Killers DJ their own single—it was bad enough the first time, and then they played it again,” he says with a groan. “If you’re a music producer and you produce house music or like electro or something, it’s a great thing to do. But if you’re in a band and you’re playing a night and you play your own music, that’s really masturbatory and pretty lame.”



      Natalie Vermeer

      Aug 29, 2009 at 9:12pm

      Just want to give credit to the photographer - the lovely Niki Kendall. Thank you!