Reviews:: Goldenboy Underneath the Radio

I’m really surprised no one is talking about Goldenboy. Front man Shon Sullivan was dubbed “golden boy” by Elliott Smith on a European tour and it stuck. You’d think with news of Elliott Smith’s new b-side CD and the striking similarities between the two artists at times, this upcoming release of this record would be getting a lot more attention.

But Shon and drummer Bryan Bos aren’t a one trick pony. The majority of the record actually sounds more like tracks that would have fit into the Lost in Translation soundtrack as opposed to the Smith comparisons that always seem to get made. The duo creates lush melodies that seem so effortless, much like the best music Neil Finn and the Smiths made us all dance to in years past. From the Neil Finn-esque intro on the Moz influenced vocals on Motorbike to the sugar sweet melody of Perfect One, this record brings a light almost optimistic outlook to the world of melancholy music.

Almost like flipping the record, on tracks like I’m Still Down and Blackbird at Heart the band switches styles and fans of Elliott Smith will turn an ear. The falsettos and sparse guitar almost play like a tribute to Shon’s friend’s passing. It’s so easy to read into the lyrics, and try to force some sort of hidden meaning on this track, just like it’s so easy to try to identify the various influences that seem to pop up on this record.

The comparisons work until you take a step back and realize that Shon actually plays with the artists that are usually cited as heroes. Once you make this connection, it’s really easy to see just how talented this young man is. Drifting easily from Finn to Marr, then to Smith and even some Badly Drawn Boy without ever losing his own style, Shon forces you to judge him on his own merits and his own voice, as opposed to thinking of him as another lonely guitar player trying to tear down the biz by ripping off those who came before him. He and Bryan craft melodies that others would kill for.

As the gentle piano ballad Underneath the Radio closes the album, you listen to Shon reminisce as the tour van hurdles forward. You can’t help but look back to your own past, knowing you are still pushing forward. I’m not sure I can think of a better description of Goldenboy’s musical style.

MP3:: Underneath the radio
MP3:: Second Day of the Year

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