Immortal / Epic Records, 1998

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


It's truly a scary moment in the life of a music journalist when he or she is listening to a group they've never heard of before, when something - a name or a sound - rings familiar in their mind. I had that happen as I listened to Anthem, the latest release from Seattle's Goodness. I kept thinking, "Carrie Akre... where have I heard her before?"

Sure enough, I've heard Akre's work before -- namely, in the band Hammerbox, who I reviewed when I was in college press back in 1993. (Sometimes, I scare myself that I remember this trivial nonsense -- I mean, I haven't listened to that particular album now in five years.) What I do seem to remember was that I wasn't particularly impressed, but thought the album was okay. (Why does something tell me I'll be digging my copy of Numb out of the Pierce Archives?)


I don't know if Akre and her bandmates (or, for that matter, her present record label) would be keen on me talking about the past, so let's focus on the present - and, as Anthem is evidence of, what a bright future it is. These 12 selections capture the energy of the now-dead grunge movement without sacrificing any of the pop sensibility the band brings into the project. And while the sound still needs a little more time to clearly cut its own swath, they're not far from the mark at all.

The band - vocalist Akre, guitarist/vocalist Garth Reeves, guitarist Danny Newcomb, bassist/vocalist Fiia McGann and drummer Chris Friel - quickly prove with their band's sound that their roots are deeply planted in Seattle's fertile soil, but that they're not about to be pigeonholed by anyone. I mean, who would have expected to hear such a poppy chorus like that on "Pretender" just a few years ago? But Goodness not only tackles such a distinctive road, but they quickly make it their own - and before long, you might find yourself asking, "Kurt who?"

Anthem contains many pleasant marriages of the alternative and pop veins of today's music. From the catchiness of the title track to other numbers like "I'd Rather," "Lost," "Our Last Goodbye" and "Walkaway," Goodness demonstrate that they have the talent and the flair to be someone big in this industry if only given the chance.

The biggest weaknesses I see in the road ahead for Goodness are both easily overcome with patience and time. First: they need to differentiate their songs a little bit more. I mean, the work I hear on Anthem is pleasant and all, but if you're not paying attention to the track listing or the lyric sheet, it's easy to think you're listening to "Bitter Man" when you're already on "Night & Day." Second: they may need to overcome some listener apathy. To some people, just the word "Seattle" might be enough to make them tune out, figuring anything coming out now is just leftovers from the scene. And if you fall into this category, then... brudder, you don't know what you're missin' with Goodness.

Anthem shows a lot of promise for this young band, and given a little more polish in their sound (though not much more) and the right breaks, they could be the next thing you can't shake off the airwaves anytime soon. For their sake, I hope that happens.

Rating: B

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© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Immortal / Epic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.