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The way things will be

The Goodnight Process offer a strong debut
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  March 11, 2009

JUST WAKING UP The Goodnight Process get started.

Goodnight Process with Loverless + Number! The Stars + Fairmont + Better Than | at the Station, in Portland | March 21 | www.myspace .com/thegoodnightprocess 
The Goodnight Process have a little bit of the next-big-thing about them. Frontman Dean Ford has been working the all-ages circuit for years, gaining a reputation for smart lyrics well delivered. Guitarist Dan Capaldi looks like a good guy to have in a band, considering he holds down the drum stool for the Cambiata and was a rock for the short-lived but excellent In the Arms of Providence. He even helped out on Marie Moreshead's debut EP, working nicely within that stripped-down atmosphere. Add in a debut EP, The Way Things Are, recorded and mixed by Jon Wyman and mastered by Adam Ayan, and you've got yourself a damn fine package ready for some big things.

Ford's in the post-pop camp that loves big choruses and sweet melodies, but never lets things get too saccharine, keeping a minor or ironic vibe in most songs. These tunes bounce and bop, but are well above Tiger Beat fare. Ford shares a bit of Cambiata frontman Chris Moulton's aesthetic, with good range and infused with emotion, but there's more of a smile in his voice, like what you find with Ben Folds.

"Stand So Tall" comes barreling out of the gate with big guitars and a building string suite in background (full disclosure: Maddy Landry, the new fiddler for my band, supplies violin work here, but I didn't know that until Ford sent me over the liner notes). You might be reminded of Peter Bjorn & John, both for the clean delivery and the bright arrangement.

Like most of the six songs on the EP, this one's a relationship-dweller, but Ford mostly is positive and upbeat with his girl songs. Here, they're in it together: "They'll never catch us." And he's the coach: "Don't waste your time worrying about what they say ... stand up so tall, they won't be able to reach you, able to tear you down." The bridge, with Ford all vulnerable and flowing into a Spouse-like guitar melody, then "oh-oh" backing vocals mixed to the back, is pretty terrific.

There's words of encouragement all over this disc, actually. With a Tom Jones swagger in the title track, Ford assures us "it's the way that things are/It won't get easier/I know it's hard, but we'll make it through/I swear this to you/Oh, we'll make it through, I swear this to you." All right. I'm in. As long as you stick with the hand claps.

Even with just six tunes the EP is well arranged, too. Opening with three short radio-friendly numbers, they deliver with the ultimate single at song four, refraining from showing their hand too quickly. "Go See a Shrink" opens with one of the best vocal turns you'll hear locally this year, Ford supported by a bit of his own acoustic guitar and an organ bounce and then the glockenspiel. And even though you know the launch into a big pop song is coming, it still gets your heart racing a bit: "Hey, I don't have a problem, anymore/I admit, I can be a bit rough on the edges, for sure." The bridge has "bop-bop" backing and a dissonant guitar effect that gets at the mental instability being denied.

For the disc's two closers, the band open up, pushing past four minutes on "All that You Love" and past five with "Neverlost." While the former is a good rock turn that reminds of Jonathan Richman or the newest Robyn Hitchcock, the latter seems to take the band out of their element, the tight pop arrangements of the rest of the disc contrasting with something that's allowed some sprawl. While the instrument break shows a nice free-form jazz feel, it seems out of character. It does allow bassist Marcel Hamel to put in his best turn, and drummer Nate Marchand pulls off the notion that things just might fall completely apart and making it seem purposeful. The finish is tight, with a main "don't let this go" vocal high overtop a cycling chorus mixed behind it. The song just succeeds, the finish delivering the punch the song needs, getting the blood back moving and leaving the listener wishing for more.

And I'm sure more is in the offing. This sounds like a band with some fire in their bellies and their following should flow over into the 21+ set in the way the Cambiata's has, assuming the Goodnight Process improve in the same way, moving from startlingly impressive to assuredly important. That process will be fun to watch.

Sam Pfeifle can be reached at

Related: Music seen: The Goodnight Process, The boy with no name, Action Jackson, More more >
  Topics: Music Features , Adam Ayan, Ben Folds, Chris Moulton,  More more >
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