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I’ve been waiting for that one, “melt-your-face” album. A record that rocks hard from start to finish and that is just unrelenting in its intensity with the lyrics to match. In the previous two years, it didn’t take long as Eagulls and the band formerly known as Viet Cong released cataclysmic, debut albums in the first month of 2014 and 2015, respectively.
It took a little longer this year – two-and-a-half months to be exact – but we finally have that record. The band may surprise you, but it really should not because Good English has been a big part of the rock revival in their home state of Ohio. As Chris Wild – another great rocker from the Buckeye State – told me, “They are part of a great scene in Ohio, and they make some noise!”
“Some noise” might be an understatement in describing Good English’s self-titled, debut album. Comprised of sisters Elizabeth, Celia, and Leslie Rasmussen, these ladies just rock, absolutely punish you with blistering guitar hooks, edgy lyrics, and some sweet melodies and harmonies. If you’re thinking this is a description of Sleater-Kinney, you wouldn’t be wrong because Good English could very well be the heirs to the riot grrrl legends. Good English only validates the comparisons, as each of the album’s 11 songs is a mind-blowing experience with each melting your face in different ways.
From the opening moments of “Carolina”, you know you’re in for something special. The track is a burning rocker with some awesome guitar work. But what makes this track so great is the multiple tempo and rhythm changes, from downtrodden, melodic blues-rock to a full-throttle, ’80s-style rock ‘n roll and back again. It’s a brilliant display of utilizing tempo and pace to match the various mood swings in the song, and it gets you excited about what is to come.
“On The Run” follows, another slow-building, ’80s and ’90s rocker. Here, the sisters channel Veruca Salt and Elastica, mixing heavy rock riffs with gorgeous harmonies. Then comes “Wanderer”, one of the highlights of the album full of them. Good English slow things down considerably, and it’s the one track where Elizabeth’s voice carries the song. It’s a moving, haunting tune that just sticks with you well after it’s finished, where you feel like the song’s protagonist. And if you haven’t been blown away by the song, there’s a great burner at the end.
The album then undergoes a transition, where the full-throttle rockers arrive. It begins with “Wicked Eyes”, a pure, old-fashion rock ‘n roll tune. “Girl” amps up the intensity, but the rollicking guitar hooks remain. The track blares of the ravaging rock ‘n roll of Joan Jett, and the bridge in the middle of the track, where the song comes to a near standstill before rising again to its cataclysmic guitar solo, is awesome. “Lion’s Kiss” is continues the arena-rock anthems, but on this one Good English channel a bit of Pat Benetar – from the grittiness of the song’s lyrics to the fire that reigns in song’s core.
On “Cold Wind”, the ladies opt for a slightly different approach – going a little heavier with traces of post-punk rock. The guitar work is tremendous, arguably the best on the entire album. The melodies are also still there, but this track of a burning heart is pure, no-holds-bar rock ‘n roll. It’s another Joan Jett and the Blackhearts-esque tune, and like that great band you’ll be waving your head and strumming that electrifying air guitar.
But out of all the anthems, “The Fire Walk” is the album’s star. With the combustible rock and attitude of Sleater-Kinney combined with a psychedelic twist and one of the best bass lines of the year, the song builds and builds until reaching its blistering end. “The Fire Walk” also is the start of the album’s strongest section. “Atheist” is aggressive and maddenly stupendous. Combined with a great bass line, a rhythmic drum beat, and Elizabeth’s Corin Tucker-esque vocals that speak to autonomy and freedom of mind, and you might have the one song that defines who Good English are.
After all the anthems, we get a reprieve with the throbbing “Battle Scar” – well, for 30 seconds. The track starts off with a lush melody before the bass, drums, and gritty guitar arrive. The song ends up being a fist-pumping, head-pounding tune. It’s an anthem for anyone who has had to overcome an abusive or one-sided relationship, and the burning intensity the Rasmussen sisters play on this track matches the celebration of one’s perseverance.
Out of all the songs on the album, the closer “Line of Fire” could also be considered Good English‘s zenith. This slow burner may not wail like the other songs on the album, but at its core “Line of Fire” matches if not exceeds the emotional potency of the other songs. The musicianship is outstanding; the storytelling of a lost soul is fantastic; and the dramatic build is heart-stopping. The addition of the horns at the end of the track only adds to the song’s drama, resulting in one to simultaneously be rocking one’s head while being blown away. Although the album ends on a slower note, “Line of Fire” still leaves us with the impression of what these three young women are first and foremost – an eff-ing awesome rock band.
With Good English, the Rasmussen sisters have crafted 11 tracks of rock goodness. The album is relentless in its energy and sonic fiery, and the songwriting matches the blistering pace and intensity. And to think the three are still in their early 20s, the future of not just Ohio rock music but all of indie rock is in excellent hands. Like myself, you might now have a new favorite band.
Good English are Elizabeth (guitar/lead vocals), Celia (bass/backing vocals), and Leslie (drums/backing vocals). Good English officially drops on Friday, March 11th. Pre-order it now on their Bandcamp page and iTunes.
The Rasmussens will be at SXSW and their tour poster is included below (it has the SXSW dates). Check. Them. Out!
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Featured image by Maggie Carey.
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