Punk. Swing. Ragtime. Southern jazz. Surf. Van Goat is a band to which you could apply many labels, but none would quite prepare you for what you’re about to hear as you pop on your headphones and queue up their new album Follow Me Under.
Harnessing the diverse DIY aesthetic of their native Oakland, Van Goat (featuring Aidan Ward, Ben Einstein, Derek Burle, Lindsay Alexis, and Taylor Moxon) is in the business of writing not only songs that you can dance to, but entire albums that you can enjoy front to back without pausing or skipping: a musical experience wherein each successive song’s mottled riffs and bewildering charisma is pleasantly startling.
The five-piece’s debut full-length LP pits thick bass lines against rhythmic trombone; pointed lyrics against verdant harmonies: bursts of liveliness in the first half against bursts of contemplation in the second. Side A, so to speak, is the dancing side, and Side B is the meditative side, but the entire LP creates a shindig all its own, plucking together influences both local and global and mashing them together in a cohesive and sophisticated exertion.
Today Glide is excited is excited to offer an exclusive early listen to the band’s new album, which is out on September 21. Starting with the title track, the album kicks off with the fervor of a New Orleans jazz club, immediately signaling to the listener that this is going to be one hell of a party. Through much of the album the band veers into the swing revival stylings of bands acts like Squirrel Nut Zippers while also incorporating rockabilly, soul, punk, ska, funk and doo wop. There is a carnival spirit to the band’s approach that even comes across in this studio recording and their dynamics are on full display as they mix up vocalists, throw in random instruments, slow things down, speed them up, and just invite listeners to be party of their freewheeling revelry. Over the course of 15 songs the band proves to be one of the most exciting and unique acts around today, and Follow Me Under beckons you to listen and then to everything in your power to catch the band performing live.
Reflecting on the album, the band has this to say:
“With our first full length album, Follow Me Under, our goal is to present a dynamic fusion of big band swing with hard hitting punk intensity. The clarinet, trombone, electric guitar, bass, keys, drum set, and electric pineapple are our chosen tools to paint our sonic picture. One scene presents a day dreaming Charleston-dancing chimney sweeper, while another depicts a ice-cap melting mountain from the eyes of a moose. The goal isn’t just to get people dancing, it’s to put people in a place they’ve never been before surrounded by combinations of sounds they’ve never heard before.
Not all of our songs are aimed at dancers; we hid an eerie spartan lullaby and a ballad of an Oakland night gone wrong among these tracks.”