The Good for Nothin’ Band – Maniac World
The debut effort from New Orleans five piece The Good for Nothin’ Band introduces the world at large to this highly creative unit’s inventive blend of jazz and blues in different shades and permutations. The ten song collection follows a general direction, but there are a number of minor detours they make along the way that fills the writing and performances alike with an added kick they might not have otherwise possessed. None of the songs are lengthy – the band’s concentration remains razor sharp throughout and any of those aforementioned detours stay on the same stylistic page while enlivening the songs with some needed unpredictability.
“Fishin’ for Stars” begins Maniac World on an exuberant, but not overwrought, note. Vocalist Jon Roniger capably handles the lyric and wraps it up with a warm, emotive treatment that gets all needed mileage from the text. The band’s sound is confident and fully realized here, brimming over with skill and inspiration alike. The marvelous thing about this band, among other merits, is how they are obviously top shelf musicians who can make the experience of beholding their skill quite fun. “DNA” is rambunctious and ready to tussle from its first seconds on. The exuberance of the first song is further amped up here and both Roniger and his band mates pull a number of inventive twists out of their hats for this one. The band’s understated penchant for humor reveals itself more fully on the album’s third track, “Falling Out of Trees”, but like the album’s best material, the hints of levity in the lyric are balanced out by an equally palpable melancholy lurking just below the surface.
The album’s title song is a straight blues and the band manages to sound just as confident after slowing things down and relaxing the mood as they did before. Roniger doesn’t sound out of his depth essaying this tune and, thankfully, avoids any of the hamfisted theatrics that plague less confident singers taking on this sort of music. “It Is What It Is” shows off just how seamlessly the band has been able to incorporate rock dynamics into their musical structure and it works magnificently for creating additional tension in the performance. The song “Romeo in Rags” is another nod to the blues that gives the band a small chance to stretch out instrumentally. A particular highlight here is the extended bass solo.
“Lips like Candy” is another assertive shot across the bow of anyone left who thinks the Good for Nothin’ Band aren’t capable of generating real rock and roll energy, but the true highlight of the album’s second half is the curtain closer “One Last Call”. This much more stylish take on the blues mimics the bleary-eyed crawl of a late night and, intermingled with light touches of humor, there’s a almost tangible weariness wafting from the song. It gives Maniac World the settled, considered ending it deserves however. This is an album good and strong enough to establish this five piece as one of the most entertaining and polished acts working today.
9 out of 10 stars