This blog rarely highlights new or emerging bands, and it’s even rarer that a new album gets some sort of review.  This is on the basis that I don’t think I’m smart or skilled enough to make the sorts of observations needed for such purposes, and besides, I hate putting up an mp3 when a song is new, and it’s hugely important that as many folk as possible make a purchase.

But I’m making an exception today.

Back in 2018/19, it took me four months to review We’re Not Talking, the second album to be released by The Goon Sax, an Australian trio consisting of Louis Foster, James Harrison and Riley Jones.  It was a very impressive effort, one which was a very welcome addition to their debut from 2016, Up To Anything. I concluded that particular review by saying that the trio had come a long way in a short period even though they were not yet out of their teens, and that I thought it would be fascinating to see what came next as they matured and developed as individuals, and as a recording and performing band. My summary was that ‘Perhaps, the onset of their 20s will lead to a genuinely classic album which will stand the test of time.’

And now, as the summer of 2021 continues, The Goon Sax have given us Mirror II, an album recorded last year with the assistance of veteran producer John Parish, best known for his work with PJ Harvey, and which I picked up last Saturday from my local indie record shop here in Glasgow.

The short summary, based on two full listens, is that the new Goon Sax album is different from the previous releases.

Very different.

And it will divide opinion….especially for those who were hoping for a record that would make them nostalgic for indie-pop of the guitar, bass and percussion variety, with twee vocals.

Mirror II opens with In The Stone, Psychic and Tag, three often synth laden efforts that feel aimed squarely at ‘the kids’ rather than the folk attracted to them via the Forster family connection. In The Stone was the track chosen as the preview song a couple of months back. It’s easy to see why:-

And there’s also been a video made for Psychic, which illustrates what I mean about the synth-led sound:-

And just as you settle down expecting more of the same, along comes Temples, a song written and sung by James Harrison in a style that made me think immediately of The Television Personalities with a very off-key vocal delivery. Side 1 concludes with another sharp and jolting turn on the rollercoaster as Louis, again assisted by Riley, takes over on The Chance, a track which has all sorts of indie and pop influences from through the ages running through it.  I’m sure it too will get the video treatment in the fullness of time.

Side 2 opens with Louis now channelling his inner art-school influences, as the near five-minute long Bathwater veers all over the place tempo wise, incorporating sax and guitar solos and lyrics sung in German (there’s his mum’s influence very much to the fore!) before another track for which a video has been made….and this time it sounds as if it wouldn’t be out of place as the slow-down number on a CHVRCHES album:-

Two of the final three tracks belong to James. And this is where I fell for the album in a way that I didn’t anticipate.

Where Louis and Riley’s efforts are polished in a way that makes them tailor-made for daytime radio and for the crucial 16-25 market to fall head-over-feels for, James takes us back to the shambolic indie-pop of the 80s….Carpetry really feels like a tribute to James Kirk‘s efforts with Orange Juice….completely unexpected and one of my musical highlights of the year. But I can see the kids giving this one a miss when they play the album, and no doubt make a sharp exit for the bars when the band do finally make it back to the stage.

He does more of the same with album closer Caterpillars, which, rather bizarrely, is the closest song to anything you’ll come across on the previous two records, sounding to my ears like a Violent Femmes influenced effort. These two songs bookend Till Dawn, the one I initially thought was easily the weakest effort on Mirror II. I’m still not convinced by it, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it suffers from its placing on the album, very much at odds with the songs that come before and after it.

I’m very happy to give the new album by The Goon Sax a huge thumbs-up, although it doesn’t quite form a classic that will stand the test of time.  Mirror II veers off in directions I wasn’t expecting at all, and while I find that encouraging, there’s a few fans of old who won’t be happy.  Having said all that, it’s likely that those who decide they no longer like what they are hearing will be replaced by a larger number of new, and most likely younger fans, for the time being at least.  I wonder what ‘the kids’ would make of these songs from 2016 and 2018:-

mp3: The Goon Sax – Boyfriend
mp3: The Goon Sax – Love Lost
mp3: The Goon Sax – Strange Light

Here’s hoping there’s much more to come in the years ahead.



It was back in April 2016 that The Goon Sax, comprising Louis Foster, James Harrison and Riley Jones released their debut album Up To Anything. It was a charming and engaging effort, musically channelling the likes of The Modern Lovers, Orange Juice and yes, The Go-Betweens with whom Louis’s father had found fame. It has to be said that the lyrics were a tad on the rudimentary side, but then again they were the product of a trio whose average age was just 17 and not everyone at that period in their life can be a Roddy Frame or an Alex Turner.

It cannot be denied that much of the early interest in the band for many, myself included was through the Go-Betweens connection – and to think that I used to slate folk for being interested in the career of Sean Lennon just because they hoped some of his father’s talent had been passed on through the genes. But, as I said, the debut album charmed me and I was really pleased to discover that the trio could more than hold their own in the live setting, as I mentioned on this little corner of t’internet in June 2017.

The sophomore album, We’re Not Talking, was released in September 2018 and it’s one that I’ve played a lot over the past few months. I’m delighted to offer the opinion that the band have developed very nicely and given us another charming and engaging album which surpasses the quality of the debut for all sorts of reasons, not least that Riley Jones, for the first time, takes her turn alongside the boys on lead vocals, sounding in many places like Juliana Hatfield.

The production is crisper and more polished, thanks in part to the involvement of two members of Architecture in Helsinki, and the playing and singing seems far more confident and less hesitant than before. I say singing, but quite a lot of the vocal, certainly when James Harrison is involved, is of the spoken/singing style (think of an Aussie accented Jonathan Richman) which makes for a very fine contrast and allows the album to flow in unexpected directions.

The band’s sound has also developed to include keyboards and there’s even the sporadic use of strings and trumpet to add further depth to a number of the songs, not least the jaunty opener which is deserving of the term ‘indie classic’:-

Not all of the other eleven songs on the album are as immediately catchy and danceable but this is actually a strength when it comes to repeated listens, as is the fact that the three of them have such different but complementary approaches to singing leading to harmonies which border on perfection.

The highlight of the album, however, comes on the penultimate track….one which always makes me smile in the realisation that the sounds of my own youth in the early 80s won’t ever go completely out of fashion

mp3 : The Goon Sax – Get Out

The Goon Sax have come a long way in a short period and it’s quite frightening to think that they are not yet out of their teens. Part of the attraction thus far has been that they sound so innocent and sincere, with cynicism being a trait that is lacking, but as they mature and develop as individuals, and as a recording and performing band, it will be fascinating to see what comes next. Hopefully, it will be more of the same – perhaps the onset of their 20s will lead to a genuinely classic album which will stand the test of time. Time will tell, but on the basis of what they’ve given us so far, it’s a reasonable bet that they will.





I was desperate to catch The Goon Sax having missed out on their previous appearance in Glasgow last year. The fact that Raith Rovers had contrived to miss out on the final of the play-offs meant I could get along; if they had made it through the previous Saturday then I might have enjoyed Luke Haines a bit more but on the other hand the scheduled 5.15pm kick off in Kirkcaldy for this particular Saturday would in all likelihood have meant I’d have really struggled to get back by the time the threesome from Brisbane, Australia took to the stage. Small mercies then for supporting such a duff football team.

The band consists of Riley Jones, Louis Forster and James Harrison. Riley plays drums and sings backing vocals; Louis and James take their turns on lead vocals and also consistently swap bass and acoustic guitar with each other. They formed in 2013 and last year released their debut LP, Up to Anything, a rather marvellous 12-song collection of lo-fi but perfectly structured indie-pop songs that capture perfectly just how exciting, scary, zany and confusing life is when you’re in your late teens.

At this point I should mention that the collective age of the trio is around that of your humble scribe who is less than a month away from hitting 54. They only left school at the end of 2016. In other words, they are composing songs about their everyday lives.

They are also not afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves. This is a trio who would have been incredibly at home when Postcard Records came into being. The tunes are a perfect blend of the very best of Orange Juice, The Modern Lovers and  Velvet Underground, along with the most revered band ever to previously emerge out of Brisbane. Think about it – the very fact that two male guitarists take turns on lead vocals alone will draw comparisons with The Go Betweens; throw in that they have a female drummer who is an integral part of their look and sound, and who contributes wonderfully to the self-deprecating tales of awkwardness, geekiness and being lovelorn and you can’t but avoid the obvious.

Oh and of course, Louis Forster has a famous dad from whom he has inherited his looks, talent, charisma and incredible but justified air of confidence.

The thing is, it’s all very well sounding the part on record and looking amazing in all the promo videos and clips that populate the internet. It’s another thing to carry it off in the live setting where so many young bands have a sad tendency to fall short.

I’m going to steal the next few sentences from Comrade Colin’s observations on Facebook; not only does he captures it way better than I’m capable of, but I’m with him all the way on this one:-

This time next year, The Goon Sax will take over the world with nothing but catchy choruses and delicious harmonies, in a slightly shambolic and disorganised manner, most likely. They are, quite literally, the best pop band out there right now (certainly the best pop band under the age of 21). You can’t help but smile, tap your foot and adore them.

I was blown away by the trio, and I cannot emphasise enough that they are a trio and not simply a vehicle for their best-known member. All three are ridiculously talented albeit there were a few, not unexpectedly, rough edges on show with a couple of duff notes, missed beats and messed up intros. Most of the songs from the debut LP got an airing but there were also around six or seven brand new tunes played for a captivated and very appreciative audience of maybe around 250 souls.

The band was given the accolade of an encore which seemed to catch them by surprise somewhat with Louis going off stage in the direction of the make shift dressing rooms (which are highly visible from the main standing area) while Riley and James headed in the direction of the bar (which is part of the main standing area!). But one new song and one old song later, a highly enjoyable and at times magical night came to an end.

The band is in Manchester, Birmingham and London in early June. You should try to get along if you can. You won’t regret it.

mp3 : The Goon Sax – Telephone
mp3 : The Goon Sax – Sweaty Hands


THE £20 CHALLENGE (Week Eight)


JC writes…..

With apologies for the non-appearance last Friday of this deservedly popular feature. It was down to ‘technical difficulties’.  Over now to Tim……………

It was quite late when SWC turned up at my house to give me this weeks CD. He had been to the gym first – he is in training for a half marathon in October – the last time he run one he pulled a ligament in his groin and couldn’t walk for six days (seriously he couldn’t even lift his leg to pull up his trousers) – saying that he still finished it in less than one and a half hours – which is about thirty minutes quicker than I could run it without a knackered groin. Anyway, he was popping by to drop off the CD and some files I needed for work the next day. He looked a bit flustered.

“What’s Up?” I asked him.

“Well” he said, “after I’d finished at the gym, I went and got showered and all that – and as I was getting out of the shower, I saw a man”.

Now there is nothing unusual in this, it’s a gym, its full of men. Then he continued, I realised he was just sipping his cuppa, he was probably just using what writers call ‘dramatic effect’. “He was naked – and stood in front of the mirror”. Another sip of tea. More ‘dramatic effect’.

“Then I realised he was hairdrying his balls”.

Ok the dramatic effect was worthwhile.

“Its unsettled me slightly, I mean why would you do that – he was proper going for it as well – leg on the little block thing, tackle out, full power, I didn’t know what to do, whether to look, laugh or cringe, so I kind of did all three”. Another bigger sip of tea.

“I wouldn’t mind, but it’s the second bit of strange behaviour I’ve seen from a naked man today”. Another sip.

“Go on” I say, feeling a bit like Sigmund Freud.

“Well at lunchtime, I went out for a walk to get a sandwich and I wandered down to the river to sit and eat it – and there was a guy swimming naked in the river – he just turned up, on a bike, stripped off and jumped in. There was a party of hikers wandering around too.”

“Well naked swimming is pretty popular in the countryside” I offer as consolation. Also this is true, if you are ever in Dartington, South Devon pop down to Dartington Estate and go down to the river around 2pm you will find its full of naked old guys swimming. You’ve be warned.

“Yes, but when he’d finished, he wandered over and asked me if I knew the way to bus station. Bold as Brass. Stark Bollock Naked – I mean usually I don’t give directions to naked people. I mean why he couldn’t put some pants on first, I have no idea. Got any biscuits?

Luckily SWC was fully clothed when he asked me this. I tend not to share my biscuits with naked people. Well naked men at the very least.

I changed the subject and talked about the memory stick full of music that he gave me last week. Which as usual contained a load of music by a load of bands that I have never heard of.

In the last six weeks I have received music from bands such as Demob Happy, Hippo Campus, Vancouver Sleep Clinic, Wall, Whitney, The Goon Sax and Arbor Labor Union. All of which are brilliant, and are bands I would have never had listened to unless he had not offered them up to me. Suffice to say they all come highly recommended. Particularly the last two.

mp3 : Arbor Labor Union – Mr Birdsong.

mp3 : The Goon Sax –Sometimes Accidentally

These two bands have quietly released two of the finest records of the year – and I would have missed them. The first is according to SWC ‘Playful, psychedelic, joyful, slightly bonkers rock and roll’. The second – ‘the best thing to come out of Australia since Kylie”. He is right, of course about both.

Oh incidentally, The Goon Sax feature on vocals, the son of one of the Go Betweens (Robert Forster) and let’s just say the song writing gene is very strong.

SWC gave me this weeks CD – and it was ‘Late Registration’ by your friend and mine Kanye West.

Sometime earlier in the year, SWC wrote an ICA for this blog under a pseudonym on Kanye West and in doing so he completely changed my opinion on Kanye West. Not only was the music on it incredible but it was way in which he convinced me that he is worth a second, third and fourth listen. For what its worth those who claim Kanye’s antics hinder his work are missing the point. His self-importance is obvious, the arrogance is pre –prepared and that is what makes him the most interesting hip hop figure in recent year. That’s the reason why its him heading Glastonbury and not Nelly or 50 Cent (remember him?). Its soul, not sales.

I’ve come late to the Kanye party – this is officially the only Kanye album I now own – but what an album. I couldn’t tell you a thing about hip hop and as 48 and a half year old, white middle class man I have no intention of even trying, but you should own this album regardless of well anything.

‘Late Registration’ was his second album and it is a bleeding masterpiece. Seriously. Incredible. Its buoyant, enthusiastic, visionary, expansive and everything that a hip hop album (probably) should be.

“I got it from the Animals In Distress Charity Shop in Dawlish for 50p”. He said. “Better than a pair of hairdried bollocks that”.

Quite.  Here’s some tunes

Touch The Sky

Gold Digger

Diamonds From Sierra Leone

Crack Music

The Skinny

Bought From Animals In Distress – Dawlish

Price – 50p

Money Left £6.50

Weeks Left – 2

And because we have £6.50 left we have raised the price of the last CD to £3.