The Big Easy has been producing distinctive and original music throughout the city’s history and the latest addition to New Orleans’ musical history is the five piece The Good for Nothin’ Band. The band has songwriting ambitions and musical skills measuring off the charts and their lyrics often tackle adult matters, but The Good for Nothin’ Band doesn’t take themselves too seriously, but they likewise never drag their songs into outright buffoonery. The ten songs on their first album Maniac World are full of good taste as well – this is certainly a collection of musicians who believe in the edict that it’s the notes you don’t play that count more. Everything here is carefully cultivated, but it lives, moves and breathes like real art should.
“Fishin’ for Stars” swings listeners into the album with gentle ease and certainly casts a spell with its emotive vocals and strongly imagistic lyrics. The vivid writing marking this track extends over all ten songs, but it serves its purpose to ornament the music without ever overwhelming it. Much like the musical content in “Fishin’ for Stars” and the remainder of the album, there isn’t a wasted word or moment of excess. “DNA” pushes its way into listener’s consciousness with force and an inventive variety of tempo shifts that will keep new and old fans alike keyed into the song. Jon Roniger’s vocal swoops and soars through the lyric with the same twisting, imaginative grace. The title tune takes on a completely different stripe. The Good for Nothin’ Band are totally believable indulging the blusier side of their musical character, but there’s something a little stilted about this because it truly doesn’t feel as personal or close to the band’s sensibilities as heard elsewhere on the album. People will definitely identify with it, anyone paying attention to the world around them should, but it does hit with the same impact as the songs before and after.
There’s some edgy horns making “Bosom of Extremes” move, but nothing ever pushes too hard and there’s taste exercised in every lyrical, musical, and playing decision. The Good for Nothin’ Band picks their shots on Maniac World and takes chances with a few extended songs, but they keep things brief for the most part and excel with both approaches. The album’s last big top energetic number comes with “Lips Like Candy” and Roniger’s vocal, in tandem with the brass section, gives the song memorable added oomph. The production on this album does a really sharp, judicious job of mixing the instruments together in a very balanced fashion. The final song “One Last Call” shows off a considerably different take on the blues genre than the band’s earlier attempts. It has a confident, stylish sway that has great drumming dramatically guiding it towards a definitive conclusion. It ends Maniac World on exactly the right emotional and musical note without falling prey to the typical desire to make a big statement with that final number.
9 out of 10 stars.