The Richmond quartet known as Go & Tell is one of the newest additions to the burgeoning RVA music scene and might be one of the more unique acts even if they don’t seem like it on paper. While there are plenty of blues, folk, and indie elements present in each song, it’s pretty safe to describe the band as an alt-rock outfit, though clearly not a copycat of the style that’s been romanticized more and more over the years.
The Richmond quartet known as Go & Tell is one of the newest additions to the burgeoning RVA music scene and might be one of the more unique acts even if they don’t seem like it on paper. While there are plenty of blues, folk, and indie elements present in each song, it’s pretty safe to describe the band as an alt-rock outfit, though clearly not a copycat of the style that’s been romanticized more and more over the years. The majority of the Richmond scene has their sights set on merging more and more genres together, yet Go & Tell, or GOAT as they once were known, seem not only comfortable in exploring an established sound and genre, but also show that there are still a plethora of sonic ideas and inner truths to pull from the format. On their debut record, Childish Air, the band stretches the alt-rock format from song to song, sometimes even mid-song, in a way that makes them sound as fresh as anyone on the cusp of a new movement, even if their movement is one the musical world has moved on from.
There’s a certain quality on the debut record for Richmond’s Go & Tell that’s just really hard to grasp the first time around. Maybe the album title puts it best – a childish air just permeates each song, which seems fitting enough for a band whose members will graduate high school in just a few weeks. On “PBR,” singer/bassist/keyboardist Tallie Hausser sings the line “And you walk with a Childish Air / You do as you please and make sure everyone knows it” and it’s this line that seems to define the record as a good deal of the album seems to attack the pre-conceived notion of youthful arrogance and entitlement. But it’s also tackling a common theme in youthful art that Hausser repeats twice on the same song: “One by one we stood in line waiting for our time.” This is explored a later on by singer & guitarist Matthew Rucker who touches down on the idea of chains holding you back in songs “Useless Ones” and album closer “Running Against The Wind.” If you try to make a change, you’re held back because you’re too arrogant, too entitled, too childish…so just wait your turn. Everyone knows that feeling of being young and seeing all this change you’d like to make not just in the world, but in your own life. More so, everyone knows that feeling of anger and rejection when you’re pushed down for making a stand, a feeling that really does apply to nearly every song on this record.
When talking about the music itself, the album is a bit more complicated to critique. If the band had recorded it in their living room with derelict tape recorders, they’d probably be hailed as lo-fi pioneers. Instead, the band chose Sound Of Music and Red Amp Audio to record in, which does give each of their songs more weight and importance. It’s not that the talent level is lacking because Hausser and Rucker alongside bassist/keyboardist Justin Wilck and drummer Joseph Boyle are not only competent musicians, but ones capable of very intelligent and original ideas that are also pulled off with strong conviction. It’s the ways these ideas mix with each other in some songs that can come off disjointed at times. “Jesus Injection” comes off as a run-on song that the band was too excited to trim down or separate appropriately; however, that same approach seems to work for “PBR” and “Not You” perfectly. Still, the band seems more comfortable in a truly fleshed out idea that runs from beginning to end like on album opener “Madison” or the album’s centerpiece, the driving and raw “Useless Ones,” a song that’s a great introduction into everything Go & Tell does well, musically and lyrically.
Ultimately, Childish Air is a solid debut record. Some things could be done better here and there, but the identity the band establishes is strong and the album’s message is coherent, two things plenty of veteran bands still struggle with. As their members prepare to end an early chapter in their hopefully long lives, the album serves as a perfect snapshot to the hesitation and trepidation that is most likely clouding their minds. Whatever stage of life you find yourself in, it’s a frame of mind anyone can relate to, even if it poignantly comes from the portion of society we deem arrogant, entitled, useless, or just childish.
You can purchase Childish Air for over at goatrva.bandcamp.com. The band will also have copies for sale at their upcoming show this Thursday night at The Camel, opening for Hop Along.