The Good For Nothin’ Band – Maniac World

Musical styles have an unique way of lingering in our collective popular conscious long after their mainstream sell-by date expires. Few forms embody this idea more than jazz and blues. These two genres, in virtually every permutation, has long since been supplanted by their natural heirs. R&B, funk, soul, and eventually rap/hip hop displaced the once relatively lofty perch blues occupied commercially while the rise of popular music forms like rock surely doomed any relevance jazz artists of every ilk once enjoyed in the marketplace.

Despite their diminishing allure and returns, The Good for Nothin’ Band and others of their type keep proving the accessibility of their chosen form. More jazz than blues orientated, the music on Maniac World’s ten songs comes from a much broader and general area – Americana – and the depth of its quality is an accurate measure of their talents and potential going forward from here.

They open the release in a decidedly relaxed fashion. Fishin’ for Stars has a beautifully phrased image serving as its primary hook, but the remaining lyrics are equally evocative. Jon Roniger’s vocals do an exemplary job of milking the imagery for every ounce of its inherent drama and sound positively gleeful at certain points. He has a way of singing that, at key moments, undercuts the bittersweet taste of his lyrics.

The romping DNA features The Good for Nothin’ Band’s sense of humor in full flight and it’s an entertaining sound. They aren’t a band who ever goes in for the cheap joke and, instead, their humor has a sarcastic and even lightly cynical edge that’s never so dire as to render it unappealing.

Maniac World is a theatrical and deeply felt track despite its cataloging quality and, despite its litany of disasters and death, never feels very oppressive to the listener.

Bosom of Extremes hits at a shuffle tempo with a light kick. The bounce in the track is enough to make Roniger’s voice sound even more buoyant than otherwise and he struts through the song with an easy confidence.

It Is What It Is is primarily propelled to its conclusion by the bright brass, trombone and trumpet, that helps set a boisterous tone for the track. Brendan Bull’s rollicking and hard-hitting drums provide the song with an assertive pulse that never wavers.

The album’s second stab at the blues, Romeo in Rags, has appealing imagery and a less overt reliance on standard blues clichés. The album’s penultimate song, Snowing in New Orleans, proudly asserts the band’s regionalist roots while offering up something close to a jump blues with humor and pathos to burn like the earlier songs.

The concluding song One Last Call recalls the album’s earlier blues effort while exhibiting much more stylishness and stronger emotiveness. The moderate pace and elegiac air of the finale is an ideal closer for Maniac World and illustrates a full array of the band’s strengths without rehashing earlier accomplishments. This is a band with a bright future in even these diminished times.

9 out of 10 stars

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