Author: Gabriel Lee Birkby
Back in 2017, a trio hailing from the City of Good Neighbors took to the studio to record what would be their first official release. If you’ve been keeping tabs on the Buffalo, NY music scene, you’ve probably noticed their name pop up. They just finished up their first appearance at Night Lights Music Festival, and are taking weekend warrior road trips to expand their reach to the larger NYS region. Their drive to play live gigs keep them practiced and fresh. I’ve seen them a few times myself and I’m always impressed with what their doing. Their sole release, Not Feelin’ This, offers great insight into what The Good Neighbors are capable of not only in a live setting, but also as a studio band with the tools of the trade at their fingertips. Currently comprised of vocalist/guitarist Connor Getz, bassist David DelValle, and drummer Jacob Frasier, the band recorded this EP about a year ago with then drummer Trevor Jennings, who is currently performing with another local group (Rust Belt Brigade). The sound they reach for is tough to obtain, especially as a trio. But combine an experienced and driven band with a nice local studio (World of Noise Recording Studio in Buffalo), and you’ve got the makings for a great 3-track debut EP.
Right off the bat the first track, Time Moves Slow, sets the pace for an indie record with touches of heavier stylings of rock music. The song starts with a chunky vibe, like a cold-open to the breakdown of a tune. A heavy wash of colorful distorted guitar chords are set to a tight backdrop of rolling bass and drums. DelValle rips a bass line that dances underneath the guitar’s cadence, with a snare-prominent beat acting like the clap of a live audience; a great way to establish the feel of the EP for a band that has so much live experience. It puts them right in their element, and puts the audience/listener there too. Layered vocal harmonies shine through the mix early on, as Getz delivers a strong vocal performance from verse to chorus, reflecting on some vague themes that leaves a lot to the imagination of the listener. Jennings lays back on the tempo a bit, giving the song a less rigid feel than a lot of heavier indie rock. But, the song eventually develops from a walk, to a jog, to a full on sprint as Jennings and DelValle lock into a driving drum and bass clinic. Getz rounds out the wall-of-sound with a beautifully mixed stereo recording of his characteristic guitar sound.
Having established the pace by the end of Time Moves Slow, the band builds on the momentum to the second track, My Plate. Opening with a fat combo of lower end bass rumble and screaming guitar chords, the groove differentiates the second song enough from the first to deliver a new experience, but not so different that it sounds like a departure from the sound The Good Neighbors are looking to achieve. The band showcases their ability to combine parts on each instrument to make the song stand out where and when it needs to. The guitar riff meshes well with the interplay between the bass and drums. You don’t hear parts being doubled here- the lack of redundancy is an advantage of their trio format and it works really well for the way their music is written. Getz holds true to his knack for writing Arctic Monkeys-esque harmonies on this tune, creating an atmospheric soundscape within an otherwise very concise song. Though this band exists typically as a trio, they do not lack the ability to fill out the landscape they incite. This band gets a big sound, no doubt about that.
Desert Meadow showcases the band’s ability to leave some sonic space open to the listener’s interpretation as well. There’s a bit of a separation here early on from the crashing waves of guitars and bass- it’s imperative that a band can find their dynamic range and use it to their advantage. The Good Neighbors do just that with this tune. The song begins with a tranquil combo of bass and guitar, reminiscent of groups like Band of Horses or Chicano Batman. It eventually broadens and creates a twilight atmosphere, driven by a busy (but not distracting) groove on the drums. Jennings does a really good job to highlight the pulse of the song here, accentuating beats in a similar way to someone like Nathan Camarena of Chon. Jennings’ decisive beat leads the rest of the band to the buildup, and closing; a grand closing that feels like a suspended ending, eventually resolving on an arpeggiated chord.
The band defines themselves in this release. They do well to identify their range of dynamics, and maximize the talents from each member to create an exciting and accessible EP. All the performances are tight. Some highlights for me were the bass lines, Getz’s ability to hammer out really interesting harmonies, and Jennings’ way of finding space in a song and filling it with a beat that’s not too potent but also still driving. A more focused lyrical theme could be something for the next release, but in a three-track EP, the lyrics do a good job of displaying the feel the band is looking to achieve. It’d be tough to follow a narrative from a three-song EP, and I’d love to see what this band can do with a full-length release one day (hopefully soon!). You can find The Good Neighbors on Spotify. Go check them out in Buffalo, or in your town if they’re coming through!