2022 was the first year that I actively engaged in the insane and endless quest to listen to as much new music as possible, so as to try and stay on top of the ever-changing, ever-growing world-wide music scene (a fool’s task, ultimately; one person alone will never be able to cover it all). But before I felt the devastating burnout of that masochistic practice, I was really enjoying the exercise of exposing myself to so much unknown music. No matter how many duds I’d run into, every time I happened upon a diamond among the coals, it was cause for joyous celebration.

During the summer of 2022, I became aware of the incoming album release (we’re actually just a week away from its two-year anniversary) by a band named Goon, which is one of my absolutely favorite words. So, even among a packed July release schedule, I opened my ears to the dreamy and nostalgic brand of indie rock Goon create on Hour of Green Evening: I was transfixed by its jangly guitars and wandering bass-lines, as well as its soft and sparse lyrics, odes to the fields of grass of memory. It remained in rotation for the rest of the year, and I ranked it as my 40th favorite album of 2022.

And then, as I has noticed has been the case for the records that don’t end up in the top-15 (give or take) of my yearly ranking, it was swiftly replaced by new releases and re-discovered favorites from my teenage years, and its mellow notes graced my ears ever more sparingly. But fate would have it that Hour of Green Evening would return to me right when I needed it to, so that I could appreciate it in a way that hadn’t been possible two years prior (current me’s 2022 ranking would feature the album much higher).

Back in January, I went through a difficult break-up which Hurray for the Riff Raff‘s stellar new album The Past Is Still Alive was instrumental in helping me navigate; even past the complexities of a crumbling relationship, it has helped guide me through a challenging period of self-reflection on my identity, as a guiding light of my queerness. One of my favorite songs on the record, “Vetiver”, introduced me to that interesting word that really sparked my curiosity: it refers to a tall grass from Southeast Asia that is cultivated for its fragrant roots. I catalogued it in the filing cabinet of my mind and carried on; unbeknownst to me at the time, I had already heard the word before.

And so, like a sleeper agent hearing their activation code word, one night as I was listening to a new playlist I was working on, Goon‘s Kenny Becker whispered those three syllables so sweetly into my ears, and I was changed. I must have listened to that song, “Lyra” off Hour of Green Dawn, at least 20 times that night, my mind, body, and soul freezing up and shivering violently each time the second verse emerged from the twinkling guitars, like fog rising gently but suddenly from the surface of a pond:

‘And the grass was high
Ambling knots of vetiver
Down by your side
Oleander at mine’

I knew then that I had found my new name thanks to Kenny and Goon, and it felt doubly special that Alynda Segarra and The Past Is Still Alive had also played such an important part in that epiphany. And as I continued to listen to “Lyra” with an almost religious devotion, so did the ocher leaves and evergreen breezes of the rest of Hour of Green Evening seep back into my life, like a faint childhood memory you can’t exactly place, or an old home video you find at a garage sale feeling so familiar in spite of familiarity being an impossibility.

Goon started back in 2015 as a solo project of Becker’s, although soon after the release of a first EP, Dusk of Punk, which compiled his best early work, the project transformed into a full-fledged band. This iteration of Goon would release another EP and finally, after much toil, their debut album in 2019, Heaven Is Humming, all of which featured a much more grunge-influenced, abrasive sound. After the release of Heaven Is Humming, Becker would find himself as the sole member of the band again, before recruiting Andy Polito (drums), Dillon Peralta (guitar), and Tamara Simmons (bass) as he sought out a distinct direction for the group.

Lush arrangements, wistful vocals, poetic lyrics: the album makes sense as a debut, as it feels like a bud blooming for the first time, yet it is also rife with the experience of life. The band recorded the record with Phil Hartunian in their native California, and Spoon‘s Alex Fischel provided additional keys and synths, adding his quirky style to the mix. It’s music that feels deeply Californian, as suburban scenes collide with nature landscapes in a sonically cinematic fashion that, combined with Becker’s longing voice, makes the whole experience hypnotic: the album’s 35 minute runtime feels minuscule and simultaneously eternal.

Goon‘s latest release is the Red Latter EP, which features outtakes from Hour of Green Evening as well as alternate versions of songs from the album. Although fairly inactive on social media, hopefully new Goon comes our way soon.

Goon is:

Andy Polito: drums
Dillon Peralta: guitar
Kenny Becker: vocals, guitar, synth
Tamara Simmons: bass

Follow Goon on Instagram. Buy or listen to their music here.

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