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The best kept secret in music


"How Good We Had It review"

I never thought that my six years in a college town could ever be captured musically, but Goner have illuminated the most intimate details of that life with clever writing and a tightly wound trio of moog-fueled rock ‘n roll.

Aside from the passionate and frenzied waves of sucker-punch hooks and cathartic anthems, Goner weave in a thread of universal storytelling that exposes a lot of unspoken thoughts and memories that morph into a certain amount of wistfulness when you’re nearing the wise age of 30 and you re-examine those sometimes strange, uneventful and defining days.

The characters are familiar, even outside the band’s Raleigh, NC, base. They’re the tortured souls, reticent wallflowers and sprightly folks who define coffeehouse culture and compose 98% of the food industry workers in a college town that nurtures its fair share of budding musicians, all of them fighting for legitimacy.

Ahh, the good ole days.

But lest we get lost reminiscing in a mental scrapbook, Goner demand you “wash that nostalgia right out of your head” immediately in the opening of “Whatever Day It Is,” and that’s the fantastic balance achieved by a group of guys who subtly open old (and sometimes current) wounds with an ability to rock absolutely so as to eliminate any woe-is-me drudgery.

With the soaring all-encompassing feel of Phillips’s keys and the driving, energetic bursts of Greg Eyman’s bass and Chris Dalton’s drums, Goner attain a delicious mixture of rock, punk and pop with some kind of unidentifiable electricity that coursed through all of those college kids at dive bar shows “once when (we) were/wild and younger/looking under everything for anything.”

Flatly stated, How Good We Had It is the absolute epitome of outstanding indie rock, or whatever you want to call really important music that not enough people hear, and its flagship is “Letters to Cal.”

The wrenching realities of this entire stage of life get fleshed out in a series of letters examining a relationship of great friends that now relies on notes and telephone calls where once it required just a knock on the door. But like that great friend won’t melt into sappiness when he occasionally questions the choices he’s made, Goner deliver this poignancy with an ascension from quiet, humming anthem into an intense rocker showing that all these years later we’re still fighting for legitimacy and that search can lead to some really lonely places.

Phillips and Eyman wrote so many other songs on this release that blend similar elements with equally outstanding results. The forceful and tingling melodies of “Lake Geneva, IL” and the muscular “Me & Billy” that drives forward with sweaty breathlessness sharpen the edge of a band that feels it’s got a helluva lot to prove to everyone, and they perform with a chip on their shoulders that sounds like the weight of so many years of trying to get it right.

Well, they nailed it on this one.

- Popshot Magazine

"How Good We Had It review"

There aren't many bands these days doing what Goner is doing: moog driven, jangly guitars with poppy hooks and lo-fi production values. How Good We Had It owes a lot to the mid to late 1990s indie rock scene, a la Yo La Tengo, Death Cab For Cutie, the Rentals, Weezer and even That Dog.

The good thing about Goner's style though, is that it's devoid of the pretension that was often common in this kind of music during the 1990s. It's fairly evident from the way that these guys deliver their music that they enjoy doing it, and they're not just out to get chicks. For the most part, much like Weezer, every single song on the album is a veritable sing along, with not a single track coming off as filler. The guitars are rather samey throughout, and the drums are a bit buried, with the stars being the perfectly sounding synthesizer and the lead vocalist's warm, buttery voice
- Ink 19

"How Good We Had It review"

Goner delivers moog/keyboard driven pop music that is a little less dorky than many of the bands in that genre. This is perhaps because their lyrical subject matter is usually not trite and stupid. The group apparently isn't made up of geeky squares delivering another dose of quirky rock, and for this we all should be thankful, as there are far too many of those bands anyway.

Even with that saucy 80's flavor lacking, it is impossible to ignore the fact that some of the songs from How Good We Had It are downright enjoyable and good. The opener "Whatever Day It Is" is a nice stomper of a song that, despite my protestations, stayed in my head for a long while. "Lake Geneva IL" is a sugar coated, hyper bouncing track that comes off strongly, all frazzle-dazzle and self-assuredness. The keyboard adds a great deal to these two (and other) tracks, infusing them with energy and fun-ness.

- lostatsea.net

"How Good We Had It review"

If there's been an uber-pop album last year, then it's Goner's How Good We Had It. The funny thing about Goner is, that they don't even have a guitar player. Keyboards + vocals, bass and drums is the line-up. And guess what? It's awesome. Songs about love, life, feeling good, being sad; the album is full of these emotions. The music underlines the probably straight from the heart lyrics. Lyrics, that tell concrete stories but are still so abstract that anyone can relate to them. Lines like "but it was good to see you out last night man / it's been a while / back in the neighbourhood scraping up a couple of laughs" literally make me cry. The songs are eventful structured and even using a cello every then and when doesn't make the whole album sound too pathetic. Have you ever read "the perks of being a wallflower"? Well, imagine Charlie when he's a 20 something, looking back on the past. Then he would probably listen to Goner's perfect songs on a perfect drive feeling infinite. MAN!
- Emo Is Dead Zine

"How Good We Had It review"

For real, where have these guys been all my life? I know they've been in Raleigh, NC, selling the shit out of your debut CD, DOLLAR MOVIE, but when I received HOW GOOD WE HAD IT to review, I kicked myself for not finding them earlier. Considering their exceptional songwriting skills, they probably figured they didn't need to record any guitar tracks for this CD. The mixture of a dirty bass sound and layered keyboard effects makes up for it and pretty much allows you to forget that there is no guitar present...and, honestly, it's not even missed after listening to the songs a few times. Some of the vocals remind me of R.E.M. at times, Archers of Loaf at others. If you like rockin' indie music, then pick this disc up soon.
- Skratch Magazine

"How Good We Had It review"

Goner serves up a wonderfully hopeful record of smart, upbeat, emotional pop. They have great harmonic vocals and lyrics reminiscent of Ben Folds, and they drive them home with uncompromising conviction. Underlying all of this is a heavy reliance on keyboards, the twittering, fluttering, and meandering of which infuses an incredible positive spirit into the music and truly makes it a satisfying, complete meal. An incredible talent and a fantastic record. - impactpress.com

"How Good We Had It review"

Holy smokes! As a fan of Goner's debut, "Dollar Movie," I was excited to find that the band stuck around to issue a second record. I wondered what those indie-rock geniuses from Raleigh would issue forth for their Sophmore Slump (heh, heh...anything but!!!!)

Well, this record definitley ROCKS a lot HARDER than the debut...Jesus! At least half this record contains all-out anthemic rockers along the lines of "Acts of God + Fireworks" from the first album. "Whatever Day," "Are We There Yet," "Me and Billy," etc. just kick your ass with anthemic riffs, choruses and introspective lyrics.

"Lazy Star" rocks along at a faster clip than ANYTHING on the debut and displays some awesome math-like rythyms to boot.

This record also contains, "Letters To Cal" which might be the greatest indie-rock ballad of the 21st century. I seriously cannot pile enough praise on this epic.

The final cut, "Townies," changes the atmosphere from the rest of the record and closes out proceedings with the melancoly and the rustic and features duet vocals from Caitlin Carey (the better half of Whiskeytown's creative core).

Awesome. Of course in this day and age of a failing music industry, I suspect that this release will go unnoticed by most fans of indie/alternative/post-punk/emo/whatever as did there debut.

Recomended for fans of Broken Social Scene, Pretty Girls Make Graves, The Strokes, Death Cab For Cutie and The Shins.

There is no justice in this world....

- amazon.com


How Good We Had It: full-length CD released by Bifocal Media October 2003. "Whatever Day It Is" received sporadic college airplay on the east coast, as well as in the south and midwest, and was featured on the MTV show "Made."

Dollar Movie: full-length CD released by Eskimo Kiss June 2002. Title track received sporadic college airplay on the east coast, as well as in the south and midwest.


Feeling a bit camera shy


The three of us have been playing together since 1999. Relocations, graduations, hirings, firings, resignations, applications, flings, courtships, indulgences, marriages, children, separations, addictions, recoveries, searchings, embarrassments, triumphs, despair, hope, fear, faith, the march of time: we show no signs of stopping. We're all in our mid-30s. And we love you.

Some influences: Bruce Springsteen, Afghan Whigs, Thin Lizzy, Richard Buckner, Fugazi, Iron Maiden, Promise Ring, Sleater-Kinney, Kate Bush, Radiohead, Pixies, Ted Leo. Many others. Goner sound like courage and/or desperation.

Unlike so many bands that play as if they'd rather be somewhere else, Goner's shows are marked by celebration, confidence, intensity, outreach and sweat. Music has saved each of our lives, and we play accordingly.