Goodbye June says: Hello and Welcome to “Community Inn” … and please leave your preconceived notions at the door.
Call me old fashioned, but something about buying a vinyl record based on cool cover art and good packaging just reeks of nostalgia to me. Before the days of streaming, thumbing through records at your local haunt and impulse-buying was the norm. Truth be told, I knew very little about Goodbye June before grabbing their latest studio release, other than they were “that band of long-hairs that opened for Greta Van Fleet a while ago.”
Greta has proven to have an excellent ear in selecting warm-up acts, and I’ve enjoyed performances from Dorothy, The New Respects, and Ida Mae so far. However, I wasn’t on the scene when the trio from Nashville, TN was making their rounds with my favorite rock band and so I have yet to see them live. I’ve been quietly following them on social media though, and I jumped at the chance to grab myself a physical copy of the new LP. First of all, it’s PURPLE! Oooo! And mine came with an autographed-with-silver-sharpie 12 x 12 print, and a guitar pick. Even if I didn’t like it after a good spin or two, I do believe in supporting groups by buying their music and merchandise as opposed to streaming their songs. At a paltry $.0043 (yes, you read that correctly: that’s point zero zero four three CENTS) per stream, you’re not doing up-and-coming bands any favors by simply playing them on Spotify. Join me and do it the ol’ fashioned way: just buy the damn record. It’ll look good in your collection.
While we’re on the subject of looks, I must confess that I made assumptions on how this band was going to sound based on the handful of images and video clips I’d seen. This is Lynyrd Skynyrd II. These are the Allman Brothers’ sons. Yes. I expected some twang. Ok, a lot of twang. Whiskey drinkin’, dirt kickin’, tobacco spittin’… Well, you get the gist. Less specifically, I wanted to pigeon-hole this group into the genre of classic rock. The superior genre. I really set myself up, there, didn’t I?
Community Inn can’t be summed up into just one adjective so I’m not going to go there. If anything, it has a very eclectic sound. A few songs stand out above the rest in my mind, but overall, this record is not cohesive. According to the band, however- that’s the point. I can hear that cousins Landon, Brandon, and Tyler went into the studio… and just laid it all out there. They took a risk with this one. Now, as someone who had never really listened to their music, this didn’t bother me. I couldn’t help but notice on Twitter that they were already receiving criticism, presumably from fans that have come to expect something from them sonically that they had become accustomed to. “Angry rock and roll,” according to the band themselves. So while I had expectations of them being a Southern Rock band, I suppose their fan base had their own expectations that, like me, also didn’t match with what we’re hearing on this particular chunk of wax. Let’s just cool out and break it down song-by-song:
Click the link for all things Goodbye June https://www.goodbyejune.com/
Rolling Off My Tongue: This sounds like angry rock and roll to me? Heavy drums, dueling guitars with some healthy fuzz. Landon can sing and he proves it right out of the gate. Like I mentioned before, the sound was not at all what I was expecting. There was something anthemic about this one.
Universal Mega Love: Upon first listen, I figured this was a song about peace and love and that’s it and that’s that. It’s another hard rock song with a pinch of psychedelia and more dueling guitars. However, the second listen had me thoroughly convinced that “Universal Mega Love” was double entendres for…something else. Read the lyrics. If you’re over 18 and/or sexually active and you’ve got your hand basket all set for our swift descent into hell, you’ll know what I’m talking about. And I love it. It’s a good solid tune. I like that I feel confused about its deeper meaning. Maybe that’s just me. Please, somebody tell me that it’s not just me.
Secrets in the Sunset: I lived in Phoenix, Arizona for a little over 4 years and this one does quite remind me of the desert, where I hear Goodbye June drew a lot of inspiration for this music. MORE heavy guitars. I like guitars. Guitars guitars guitars. And more raspy, range-y vocals. This one is a little more dynamic.
Be Yourself: Ahh. A reprieve. Let’s get a little acoustic for a second. I don’t know that I’d call this a ballad but the content actually reminded me of my favorite Beatles track “Dear Prudence”, which also opens with a finger-picked guitar solo and urges the lonely subject to come on out and greet the day. Every good rock record needs one of these on it. Don’t argue with me on that because you’ll lose.
Lonely Beautiful People: OK! The way this one opens is how I assumed Goodbye June would. As we get into the chorus, however, I am reminded again of another Beatles tune! Not that either song sounds particularly Beatle-esque, but the content of this song does harken to the theme of Elenor Rigby, where we talk about all the lonely people. It’s a bit haunting in that way, too.
Natural: I took a particular shine to “Natural,” admittedly because it threw me back to my Phoenix days hanging out with Arizona-based glam band “Crash Street Kids.” I don’t expect any of my readers to be familiar with any CSK tracks, so you’re going to have to just spin this one for yourself and trust me that the vibe is SO in line with my former favorite band’s groove. This of course is pure coincidence but one that made me happy.
Joan&Dylan: Something funny happened to me by this point. I was feeling slight disappointment that I wasn’t hearing much of a bass guitar presence on this record. And then, wouldn’t you know it, the bass line for The Beatles (YES, I JUST REFERRED TO THE FABS for the 3rd time. TAKE A SHOT.) Taxman became very obvious. I’m not certain that this was an intentional nod, but I’ll take it. This is what I’d refer to as a “drivin’ with the top down” track.
Anywhere the Wind Blows: This is another track where I exclaimed to myself- OH! That’s a ‘Goodbye June’ song. It just sounds so quintessential. Bold of me to say considering this is the first time I’m hearing this band. Hi. I’m Dollie. I have opinions.
Switchblade Heart: This song is a pop song. Is someone else singing? I’m assuming so. It’s a bonus track. I don’t hate it, it’s a fun song. I would dance to it (and I’m professionally trained). But it’s freaking me out. Don’t get me wrong… I enjoy a good freak-out. And as I explained before, this album is eclectic, intentionally so. I accept this but, yeah. Bonus track!
Live in the Now: This song pleases my hippie-heart. Slide guitar KILLS me. Add some wah (they did) and I’m gone. At this point, it’s become clear that these guys can write. Not to sound glib about it but it’s true. Chart-topping artists don’t write songs anymore, unless they’ve got 27 helpers in the way of lyricists, producers, etc. As far as I know, it’s just the band here. As it should be.
I Don’t Mind: What a nice way to wind things down. I just have one gripe. There’s a sound, a guiro perhaps. That’s a percussion instrument that one scrapes and it gives a sort of “ratchet” sound. What a gorgeous song. That sound effect is just not where it’s at. I think we all learned something here.
Free Child: Yooo. More satisfaction for me, that HIPPIE girl. This is the first and only consistent two-part vocal harmony on the record if I’m not mistaken and it really works. Slight 311 meets Soundgarden vibes if I may say so. But by now, a Goodbye June song in my conscience. If in fact, their more tenured fans are turned off by this, I can hear why. But hey, more for me. I’m not complaining. I’m a fan of this track and I’d be pleased to hear more like it.
Hopefully at this juncture it’s clear to you, dear reader, that I’ve spent quite a bit of time with this album. Just me ‘n “Community Inn”. And I think we’ve gotten along just dandily. As we’ve gotten to know one another, I did feel that tweet I read from Goodbye June’s account that I previously mentioned loom over me. I imagined what the expectation was for this album from their fans and noobs (such as myself) alike, and visualized a mosaic. Neat and precisely cut pieces making one cohesive and appealing image. This is not that type of LP. It’s more of a collage. Not sloppy per se, just more abstract. There’s nothing more punk rock than a cut-paper collage, though, now is there? I’m looking forward to catching this band live and they are indeed playing a two-night stint in Nashville for this record’s release celebration as I write. And celebrate, they should. So until I see them:
Hello, Goodbye June. Nice to meet you.
Ashley Guest (nobody call her that, ok?), or “Miss Dollierocker” as she is most affectionately known around the music scene, has been chasing rock bands for the better part of the past 15 years. A professionally trained dancer, vintage groupie documented in print and on national television, rock couture clothing designer, visual artist, musician and singer, amateur counterculture historian, and rock journalist, Dollie likes to take people on a prismatic, nostalgic trip in whatever medium she is using to convey her message at any given time. She suffers from dysautonomia, a poorly understood and disabling condition with no cure and has become a chronic illness awareness advocate for herself and anyone else suffering. Follow her Instagram @dollierocker