Rock + Rollin’ No Punches Pulled Thanks To Golden State

by Daniel Kohn SOURCE Best New Bands
Photo Credit: Janee Meadows

It seems like the hardest thing to find these days is a band that sticks to the roots of what made rock music popular in the first place like Golden State. At least in the Los Angeles scene, it seems as if every band wants to do the spaciest, indie-est thing while denying that they are trying to be super cool rather than making great music that's true to themselves.

Yes, that catchy, dreamy, California-pop that have become blog darlings, along with the utter-garbage that has become staples of mainstream rock radio has infected the airwaves and for every Saint Motel and Grouplove, there are hundreds of other bands in L.A. that absolutely suck because they are trying to be like everyone else. Thankfully, Golden State is not one of these bands and with Division, their first full-length, they may have one of the best, most polished albums of the year that encapsulates what rock is supposed to sound like.

The first tune is the anthemic “World On Fire.” The intro synths (which alarmed me at first) give the tune a vibe that perhaps, the world may be on fire. The music proceeds to turn into a catchy, building guitar riff, which launches into the build of the song. It is a very catchy song that showcases singer James Grundler (who has been in his fair share of outfits over the years), whose booming vocals channel Bono, while Marc Boggio’s riffs, combined with thumping bassline of Alex Parnell and the terrific drumming of Fernando Sanchez gives the song life and an edge that’s lacking in rock music today.

“High Noon” has the intensity of the showdown of an old western gunfight at the OK Corral. Again, Grundler and Boggio lead the way, showing songwriting and composing prowess by crafting a much different song from the opener, albeit much more rockin’ and up-tempo. This is the type of song that you could blast in your car while you fly down an open highway with not a car in the world. Driving songs are the hardest types of songs for a motorist to feel, yet while driving and jamming on this tune, I felt like I could crank my car up to 100 mph without even realizing since “High Noon” is just that good.

A change of pace occurs on the slower “All Roads Lead Home.” Here, the band steps back from it’s feverish pace and delivers a beautiful ballad that comes directly from the heart, which is evident in the lyrics. The song combines the musical complexity of My Morning Jacket, while once again and seems to be a theme on this record; Grundler stretches his vocals to Bono-esque levels, which sounds awesome.

What Golden State does best on this record is simply be themselves and rock out. These days, many bands try to do and experiment with elements (read: snazzy synths) while deviating too far from what made them a band in the first place. The one thing that these rockers do is to be themselves and it sounds great. Straight-up rock music almost seems like it is becoming extinct because the hipsters and scenesters like the type of garbage that involves spaced-out, over-glammed, experimental music where bands they think they can be the next Phoenix or Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, while making horrible music. Anytime a band makes straight-up rock music without putting out stuff they should be ashamed, like Nickelback or 30 Seconds to Mars, it makes this reviewer believe that, like the only relevant quote in the 1996 epic Kevin Costner box office bomb Waterworld that "dry land does exist," Golden State makes me believe that great new rock bands aren't extinct, but you just have to be patient and dig deep enough to find them.

Golden State’s Division will be self-released on July 19 and will be available through their website.