By Chris Pacifico

While the nation of Wales may be a part of the United Kingdom, its people still hold true to their cultural heritage, and the same thing can be said of the music that has come out of there for the past two decades. All one needs to do is check out Welsh bands like Super Furry Animals, McClusky, and Gorky's Zygotic Mynci to see that their music has always been something for the listener with an eclectic palate in their ears. In many ways it's cut from a completely different mold than the giant handfuls of artists from their next-door neighbor/conquerors England, where the writers of the tabloid NME tout a slew of bands that sound and look like they came off the same assembly line. Not to say that all British music is mediocre these days, but like America, it is in no short supply of the same old thing. Wales, on the other hand, has always seemed to stave off this curse because their bands always seem to have their own signature impetus that boggles the listener's senses, and now El Goodo has proven to be the current cream of their crop.

Hailing from the tiny village of Resolven, while looking forward with a sonic vision all their own, El Goodo still manage to capture the essence '60s sunshine pop but from the pre-'68 days when the likes of The Rascals, The Left Banke, The Lovin' Spoonful, and the Mamas and Papas reigned supreme, before the youth and music culture of that decade had lost its innocence.

The opener, "Life Station," delicately trickles down with fuzz while "Surreal Morning" pretty much lets the listener know that they're in for an album with lots of "ooohs," "ahhh's," and "ba ba baaaah's" delivered in three-part harmonies. The band puts in tinges of mariachi horns here and there that sound as if the Moody Blues started out scoring climatic scenes in spaghetti Westerns in their salad days. With enough jingles and jangles to make the Byrds proud, the album even contains numbers like "Esperanto Video" and "Chalking the Lines," which are probably opulent enough to snag a nomination for a Tony Award. It's like the greatest album that the Beach Boys never released on Creation Records (before My Bloody Valentine sucked it dry into bankruptcy). El Goodo's debut long player is an end-of-the-year treat and is a guaranteed contender for being among the top 5 albums of 2006 that you didn't hear about... until now.

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[Published on: 10/20/06]

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