The Good for Nothin’ Band – Maniac World


Combining a talent for traditional New Orleans-styled jazz, blues, singer/songwriter artistic values, and at least a drop of combustible rock and roll spirit with a sense of humor produces results. If you don’t believe this, check out the debut album from New Orleans headquartered five piece The Good for Nothin’ Band. Everything about this unit is steeped in the history and environs of the Crescent City – even the band’s name comes from a group of pickpockets and thieves who briefly terrorized the city during the 1970’s and numerous songs have a vivid sense of place that’s inescapable. The ten songs on Maniac World roar with tradition, conviction, and an unquenchable thirst for new wine in old bottles. There’s something in these ten songs to satisfy every sensibility.

Despite some melancholy imagery, “Fishin’ for Stars” has a bright veneer and a lively vocal from singer and songwriter Jon Roniger. The band negotiates the twists and turns of the song with the sort of effortless skill you hope to hear and it helps underscore the song’s well-rounded structure. There isn’t a single song on this release with a bungled transition or some sense of disparate parts stitched together to make some greater whole. Instead, each of the ten songs compromising this collection play like creations sprung full born from their fingers in a single moment. “DNA” has that quality strongly. This is pure inspiration, romping over listeners from the opening bell, and compelling you to move. At their very best, The Good for Nothin’ Band have a edgy physical quality that forces listeners to engage with their music. Even the comparable laid back “Falling From Trees” has that engaging quality, but the real highlight of this song is how the band’s sense of humor emerges so powerfully from the songwriting.

They make a credible turn into blues territory on the title track, but there’s a hint of self-consciousness eating away at this song, like a songwriter who isn’t quite comfortable with veering even this close to pontification on social issues. The lyrics aside, the musical accompaniment is as top notch as ever. “Bosom of Extremes” returns the band and their listeners to familiar territory and few bands are clearly as capable of making a shuffle chug ahead with such velocity like these five. “It Is What It Is” takes a similar tack, but it also pushes ahead with some genuine rock and roll fire that changes the song’s complexion entirely. “Lips Like Candy” is cut from the same cloth. It’s thrilling to hear The Good for Nothin’ Band spike the intensity in these final songs and bring the release to such a rousing finish.

The closing song “One Last Call” represents the band’s final foray, for now, into the blues genre and it’s the most stylish and least pronounced effort. They do an excellent job approximating the slow-motion feel of a late night while still waxing eloquent both musically and lyrically. It is quite a fitting ending for Maniac World, eschewing too much in the way of dramatics and, instead, sliding out a side door. This is an outfit with a boundless future.

8 out of 10 stars.


Michael Saulman