The Golden Boys

Better Than Good Times (12XU)

Texas Platters

The Golden Boys' previous album, 2012's Dirty Fingernails, flexed top-notch production of epic and widescreen roots punk while staying lo-fi filthy. The Panavision warmth of a big, block-chorded Hammond B-3 organ, guitars alternating big open chords, and squalling noise hawking bright and sunny anthems like "California" and "We Are Young" generated more grit than four packs of cigarette butts inside an empty bottle of Jack Daniel's in a $10 motel room. The locals' fifth LP in seven years broke through like a guitar upside your head.

Five years later, drummer James Arthur left on a Manhunt (replaced by Patrick Travis), guitarist John Wesley Coleman III released more music than Robert Pollard – further proof of his barley-and-hops-soaked garage culture genius – and singer/main songwriter/guitarist Matt Hoopengardner wrote "Sundays With Jackie," which announces Better Than Good Times with the howling lead couplet, "I'm on druuugs, hangin' on to dear life/ And I can't go to the hospital, and I can't tell my wife" once again over big open chords, squalling guitar, and the huge comforting sound of a Hammond B-3.

Even so, this isn't a scaled-down Dirty Fingernails.

As overseen by Stuart Sikes, rapidly becoming the local upper echelon garage groups' producer of choice, "So Cowboy," a central duet with Löwin's Sara Houser, and "Cincinnati" yee-haw some trademark Golden Boys twang, then "Kick the Can" reeks of the Band on a supremely boozy night atop its Salvation Army brass section. Nathan Arbeitman plays more piano than the organ, and his electric piano alongside Bryan Schmitz's thick bass shades soul rocker "She's a Song" beautifully. Which doesn't at all mean the Golden Boys no longer rock. When the quintet lets loose with something more propulsive in the vein of "Lonely Girls" or the title track, they somehow manage far more authority than previously, and they were never shy to begin with.

Dirty Fingernails is a lesser band's artistic apex, while its follow-up demonstrates growth and deepening without a ceiling. Picture Pavement as a drunken garage-soul outfit. Better Than Good Times is that good.


More the Golden Boys
Texas Platters
The Golden Boys, and John Wesley Coleman III
Dirty Fingernails, The Last Donkey Show, Nightmare on Silly Street (Record Review)

Austin Powell, April 13, 2012

Texas Platters
Golden Boys
Goodbye Country (Record Review)

Audra Schroeder, Oct. 31, 2008

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
The Crack Pipes
Beauty School (Record Review)

Michael Toland, Oct. 20, 2017

Texas Platters
Milligan Vaughan Project
Milligan Vaughan Project (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Sept. 1, 2017

More by Tim Stegall
Heart-Shaped Box Sets
Leave Home (40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition), Rocket to Russia (40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) (Record Review)

Dec. 8, 2017

Heart-Shaped Box Sets
Hüsker Dü
Savage Young Dü (Record Review)

Dec. 8, 2017


the Golden Boys

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)