The Goa Express
The Goa Express
Bars, chips, beer (a lot of beer), billiards… and some music — this is how all the music videos and live shows of the band with the name, originating from the eponymous soup from the UK supermarkets, look like. As if they just hang out doing some music at the same time. And in the case of their biography that makes sense.
This five-piece DIY bunch began to play together to just stop idling around and use their time “a little better.” “We all started the band to have something to do, and that was it really,” says frontman James Clarke. Having met at the age of 13, they were learning together from scratch how to play all instruments. “Like anyone from a small town, we didn’t really have anywhere to hang out, so we’d just go to each other’s houses to piss around and play instruments, and it’s led us to where we are now,” continues James. Depending on their hailing from the small towns of Burnley and Todmorden, it would be too simple to characterize their music by the Manchester sound, whose alma mater is just one hour’s ride away. However, their own description of their inspiration through “rock and roll and psychedelic music from the 60s” doesn’t make sense either. Back then, they also had been listening to the Brian Jonestown Massacre, Spacemen 3, a lot of shoegaze, and usual indie stuff. It’s all definitely present in their debut record but on other layers. On the first listen, the label of the “new Oasis” sticks to their music by itself. And the fact that frontman James and keyboardist Joe are brothers only adds some spice similarities with the Gallaghers.
They began professionally rocking somewhere in 2016 and have been hyping since 2019 through radio and tours all over the UK (including supporting Shame), cultivating a devoted fan base. And all that with only a few released singles over the years! Starting from typical loud lad indie rock with an obscure sound and Velvet Underground-ish DIY approach, they evolved to a raw and fresh venture with Britpop tunes. Despite the fact that the guys are vocal about the still ongoing process of improving their musical skills, Clarke, with curls and the confidence of a young Matty Healy and breezy Gallagher’s vocals (“Honey”), grabs attention from the very first track. After years of regrets due to the breakup of Oasis and the decline of Britpop, and after listening to the AI-generated album of Gallagher’s band and their solo projects, it sounds just like a true revival. But under the boyish Britpop surface, there are a lot of obvious and sometimes mutually exclusive influences, from Dinosaur Jr.’s distorted guitars with Hard-Fi’s motives (“Good Luck Charm”) to the Strokes’ looseness (“Small Talk”) and the Libertines’ romantic nonchalance (“Talking About Stuff”) to even shoegaze-y wall of sound (“Prove It”) and punchy indie of the early 00’s (“You’re the Girl”).
It’s definitely a decent set of cultural nods for a debut album born out of idleness. Which Clarke mostly doesn’t care about. “We’re happy to let the tunes come out, and other people can categorise them for me if they want,” he says. Yet, it doesn’t sound like artificial show-off, ho-hum mimicking, or an Inhaler-esque glamorous approach but more like a natural and cohesive result of some lads idling around with guitars, a lot of free time and carefree energy, and without deliberate, slick, and safe perfectionism. After all, one of the main ideas of rock is just to let your hair down and “never take the foot off the gas,” right?
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