Good King Friday – The Moon is a Balloon

Good King Friday formed after members of classical group the Los Angeles New Music Ensemble met some long-lost friends at a show in Silverlake, CA. Ever since, they’ve been very successfully writing symphonic rock together. Released in October 2011, their self-titled album is a breath of fresh air that will knock you flat on your back.

Good King Friday 3

It’s a combination of intelligent writing, really progressive classical music, and a pop-rock sound, which you can probably already tell I am finding hard to categorize. It’s just Good King Friday, pure and simple.

Joining the Fish Pond family in March 2012, they are characteristic of the global concept we represent. With lyrics from Matt Kolbet, their ranks are made up of Canadian Patrick Conlon on violin and vocals, Chicagoan Audrey Snyder on cello, L.A. girl Christina Giacona on guitar, clarinet, and vocals, her childhood friends, siblings Kelly Caswell on lead vocals and piano, and Chris Wakelin on drums, and their school mate from Valencia, CA, Nathan Caswell on bass and vocals‚ by the way married to Kelly, and also Matt’s brother in law. This is the family that makes up GKF.

Beginning with “I am Not the One”, we’re already treated to the kind of really tight, classically trained style which you can expect from the band’s quirky, changing tempos, from the best I can make out, from 7/8 time back into 4/4, and an exquisite journey in some really soaring vocal harmonies. The string parts make the best of the violin and cello, and are as symphonic as their orchestral backgrounds.

“Who Knows If the Moon’s a Balloon” has a great video on YouTube which you should check out whenever you get the chance It’s a beautiful exploratory lyric, simple, romantic, bringing a little welcome clarinet into the mix for good measure. Good King Friday have this excellent habit of allowing you to focus on the music by repeating lyrics rather than making them over-complex; it’s a great idea, because to be honest there is so much to enjoy in the music and the voices they bring to the mix without overly focusing on the message

“Day After Day” is my favorite of the lot. It’s truly progressive neo-classical pop-rock at its very best, and as my musical heart is deeply rooted in punk rock, metal, and classic rock, with some even longer-ago ties to classical music, the superbly rangy and massive chorus really gets me lost in the moment; once again with the repeated lyric, so that I can focus on the collective, the build is immense, using to good effect some age old rock techniques with that amazing symphonic edge to it. And by the way, the arpeggiated ending to the song, ending with a real classical bang, is so much appreciated.

“I Know” shows how much fun these friends are having in their music. Here’s your chance to see them all in action, with, in my opinion, one of the best and freshest music videos I’ve seen in a long time – it’s just so much FUN‚ all pinks, reds, blues, and a fabulous start as they all come to life one by one; check it out, you won’t be disappointed. Such a well-observed and witty truism as well. You can also watch it here.

“Romance” did not make the album, but you can find it on the site. I wanted to review it anyway, because it runs a very close second for me with “Day After Day”. It’s the ballad of the bunch, and is beautifully written around a simple piano and string backing, with a vocal melody that will get right to your heart.

“Together we make sense out of all of this crazy world;
Taking in the flowers, staring at the sun”.

It’s everything that is musically wonderful about Good King Friday, with all of the emotion and lyrical content to be able to lose yourself in the song.

I’m so very glad to have found this happy bunch of very talented, very qualified, unique musicians. I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of Good King Friday in the coming years. In the meantime, check out the above songs by buying the album on iTunes from Onyx Lane Records – here – and also check out their profile, and leave a comment, here.

By David Mark Smith
Global Musicians Fish Pond


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