I had the good fortune to meet two-thirds of the Goodspace team last year when sitting in on a Bad Monkey radio show on Planet FM. They had just released their debut EP, and now, today, May 8th they release another EP, slightly longer, entitled Under the Loquat Tree. Loquat is a fruit tree found in China and Indochina which produces tasty apple-like fruit. Loquat trees also grow in New Zealand, and this new EP is just like that, homegrown, born not in the back gardens of New Zealand but certainly the garage.
Earlier this week I had a Zoom chat to the guys to congratulate them on a fine new release which marks a positive progression and ensures that the name Goodspace ought to be on more people’s lips when the time comes to ease our distance.
Goodspace comprise Nick Annear on drums, Lloyd Thomason on bass and vocals, and Jeff Chen on guitar, keyboards and vocals. Jeff speaks French. He has a French girlfriend which is absolutely the best way to learn. You might say that Jeff is the driving force, as he does most of the writing and is the only full time musician of the three, but I clearly get the impression that this is a democratic little unit where everyone contributes. It’s a team, and although much of the record was made during lockdown, they have managed to remain cohesive from a distance and the production and mixing has been brilliantly done by Mike Collier in his Little Lion Studio. Sometimes with a bit of lo-tech innovation like Lloyd doing his vocals into his iPhone in the shower to get the echo. Pre-lockdown they recorded in Jeff’s garage, so this is truly homegrown.
Bcalls it “lo-fi, DIY, independent musicians doing the music they love”. What a great description of what New Zealand Music Month is about!!
Lloyd tells me that when we first met, at the time of the first EP release, they had just found their sound, and this record now finds them concentrating on the songs, the lyrics and the music, and how to build on the sound with catchy riffs and hooks. They reckon they’ve moved up a notch or two in the song writing and there is now a level of sophistication in their work. I would concur.
Instead of throwing what might inadvertently be insults as I did when I ventured a few names as possible influences, this time I ask them what they think.
Britpop is the broadest category, and within that anything by Damon Albarn, Massive Attack, Radiohead and a Canadian artist called Andy Shauf. The Dandy Warhols pop-up, and Nick also describes his more rock-oriented influences such as Artic Monkeys and Muse. I can’t help myself and lob in Kula Shaker and Soup Dragons, but there you have it:
Goodspace play indie rock in the Brit-pop tradition with a bit of shoegaze and “Blurred” edges. It’s catchy, it’s precise and it’s very, very good.
We have a conversation about recorded versus live music and whether the songs will change when played live. It’s an interesting subject because Lloyd references David Byrne who opines that audiences today expect to hear perfect reproductions of what happens in the studio. But I think we agree that the live performance still offers the opportunity to explore and expand and the guys are keen to get back live to see what happens. Maybe David Byrne is so clever in the studio he feels compelled to try and reproduce. And imagine if the Beatles played with today’s technology? It took nearly 30 years before we heard A Day in The Life played live, by both Neil Young and Jeff Beck.
Back to the album. Six songs. Amy features Jeff’s distinctive shoe-gazey voice, a touch of jazz, strong bass line. Dreamy harmonies. Braces is a band favourite which continues the flavour of the opener. I ask them a question about Do Not Sleep and whether it’s about a post Covid-19 dystopia with lives being controlled by overbearing central something. Well, maybe with hindsight, they say, but the other thing of note is that this track, which is also rockier, went down in almost a single take. Could be a cut loose moment when this song takes the stage. Get also gets rocky and there’s a brassy background and a solid rocking drum beat. Makeshift Spaceship has a psych-rock feel, both lyrically and musically. Strong riff, shake like a Kula. And the final track So Sweet Are is a song which features Lloyd on vocals and it’s a re-write of an earlier song Jeff wrote, years ago, about the loquat tree. One of my favourites, takes me back to 60s pop, a place only I can go.
And that’s it, a great little effort by an upcoming band and a fitting contribution to New Zealand Music Month.
Goodspace are in a good space, and you really should join them and enjoy their music. Check them out: