Album Review: Dave Goddess Group
Updated: Jun 22
Artist: Dave Goddess Group
Album: Back In Business
All too often in music these days we are left wondering what happened to great rock bands. The kind of rock bands that make a stand in a bar on a Saturday night as the clock marches into Sunday morning. The kind of band that is bubbling with grit and volume. They play old guitars through amps that say Fender, Marshall and Vox. The thump of the kick drum is felt as much as it’s heard. They play through real speakers and move air when they chug an E chord. The songs almost never have more than four chords, simply because they don’t need more. Anything more than the truth would be too much. I miss seeing the cigarette smoke roll through the stage lights as the musicians come together on a four count to form a musical sum that is greater than its parts. This record captures that kind of a band perfectly.
The 11 song effort from Dave Goddess and company is as good of a record that I have heard in a long time. Clever songs, jangly electric guitars, big back beats and catchy hooks are the ground floor of this production. It is clear that attention has been paid to every detail, without losing the slippery nature of a great rock and roll band. This is a record that sounds like it was built in a garage long before the internet had tutorials on how to write a hit song.
So many good hooks are found across the entirety of this album. “You Can’t Get There From Here” was one of my favorites. The band comes in big with a very memorable guitar riff, dropping the dynamic for the verses, building slow and steady straight into the chorus. The organ adds a lush bed that feels like it makes the whole band smile as they each contribute their parts to the greater effort, the song.
“Calico“ is another one I really enjoyed. A mid tempo meaty shuffle that the band is laying into with the restraint of seasoned pros. A catchy full production, with space for all the musicians to shine. It’s a lesson in songwriting and production, knowing the roll of each instrument and how to serve the song.
My favorite track is “Better Days”... a Bo Diddley beat drives hard as Dave waxes confidently over the classic groove. An unexpected violin solo on a Bo Diddley groove makes me wish I thought to do it first! Great backing vocals add a touch of gospel. Bo Diddley drums, a violin and gospel vocals all rolled into a 3:46 rock and roll track that could not have been landed more perfectly!
Fans of Tom Petty, Peter Wolf and maybe even late 70’s era Kinks music will be thankful they have found this record. It is sweaty and real, like every rock band should strive to be. They have sharpened the blade enough to cut, without losing the edge. “Back In Business” is a must listen for anyone that enjoys pre MTV rock music played by real people with real instruments and real conviction and soul.
Check out the interview with Dave Goddess
How did you get involved in music?
My uncle, who I was very close to, was a songwriter, and I remember him and his writing partner sitting around the kitchen table with a guitar knocking out tunes. This was when I was maybe seven or eight years old. They went through the whole process and I watched--recording sessions, record releases, getting their songs on the radio. I thought it was the greatest thing ever. So I picked up the guitar myself. Got in bands when I was a teenager and just kept at it. Tried to quit a few times but couldn’t.
What are your influences?
Lately I’ve been listening to a bunch of vintage roots rockers like The Band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Grateful Dead, The Byrds, Neil Young, and, of course, Dylan. They’re all unique, but I admire the straightforward simplicity of their music. I soak in the influences and filter them through my own off-kilter brain. In the end you realize that the most unique thing you have to offer is yourself.
Tell us about writing your new album.
I wrote it during the pandemic in NYC. Like many other people, I was in pretty much total isolation. That sucks as a life plan, but it works pretty well for writing. I figured if Shakespeare could write ‘King Lear’ and ‘Macbeth’ during a plague I could at least come up with a few songs. Spending a lot of time alone is a pretty good way to find out what really matters to you, and I found that all that soul-searching gave rise to some interesting ideas.
What’s your approach to writing lyrics?
I try to keep it personal and real. That doesn’t mean that every song is about me, but I do search for an idea that has some bigger meaning. I put it out there, but it’s up to the listener to fill in the blanks and complete the story. Make ‘em you own--hell, half the time I don’t know exactly what they’re about anyway.
What’s the best tip for arranging a tune?
Start with a great rhythm section. Without that you’re screwed. I work with Mark Buschi on bass and Chris Cummings on drum who provide their trademark locked-in feel. These guys are as solid as it gets--dynamic, powerful, and straightforward. They’re the heartbeat of the music and for my money, nobody does it better.
What's the best piece of advice another musician ever gave you?
Years ago I was in a bar and I realized I was sitting next to Bo Diddley. He actually started talking to me, so I bucked up and asked him for some musical advice. He told me something like, “Just don’t make it too perfect. Leave it a little raw.” I bought him a Grand Marnier.
Why do you want people to take from your music?
I’m trying to take people to a place they can’t get to by themselves. I want to move people. I try to lift them up. I try to make them think and feel. I believe music can be much more than a catchy pop tune.
What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about you?
I’m in Mensa. Not really.
Name 3 things you dislike most.
Autotune, disco music, head cheese.
Thinking back to when you first started out do you ever look back at your career and think about your earlier days and how you’ve arrived where you are today?
Sure, but like most everything, it’s the journey that’s important. If you can’t enjoy that part of it, you shouldn’t be in music because no matter who you are, you’re going to have lots of ups and downs. I’ve played for audiences that loved us and audiences that hated us. Played for 10,000 people. Played for 10. What we do isn’t for everybody. If it was, it would be so homogenous that it would suck. Unless it was the Beatles. These days I’m happy to please myself and see where that takes me.
What are your goals for 2022?
Play music. Write. Travel. Drink tequila. Be kind. Seize the day.