Agent: Devin Garcia
Territory: N. America
Label: Partisan

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What I’m after is that sad and comforting feeling,” says Goon bandleader Kenny Becker. “The way it is when you’re out in nature but you can still hear the highway not far off.” It’s a good descriptor of Goon’s evolving aesthetic. After effectively rebooting his band—new members, new sound, new record, and no label—Becker found the freedom to make his best music yet. Goon’s latest EP Paint By Numbers 1 expands the band’s sound immensely, bringing it in a lush, freer direction, hinting at wilder things to come.

After recruiting new members—Andy Polito on drums, Dillon Peralta on guitar, and Tamara Simons on bass, Becker wanted to make a decisive move away from Heaven is Humming’s grungier sound to a gentler, more expansive style. In late 2020, the band worked up new material and set about recording a second LP, Hour of Green Evening, over twenty days in Tropico Beauty studio in Glendale, California, to be released in summer 2022. Energized by the experience, Becker felt a desire to try something different.

Paint by Numbers 1 is the first of two EPs, done in a similar manner to Becker’s early Bandcamp days. Forgoing a traditional studio, Becker recorded Paint by Numbers 1 entirely at his apartment and the band’s rehearsal space, alternating between a used four track tape recorder and plugging straight into his computer interface. The songs were recorded quickly, capturing the urgency and energy with which they were written. Becker compares the songs to “sculptures or collages,” but “no less significant” to him.

Becker also credits his pandemic time spent out of doors, hiking and plein air painting, for the shift in Goon’s sound. (Becker painted the cover art for the upcoming Hour of Green Evening, as well as designing the EP’s art.) “Living in L.A., it’s hard to find ‘pure nature,’ says Becker. “There’s always something manmade around you. I wanted to capture that feeling in the music.” This nature-focused approach allowed Goon to try a different approach to music, writing quieter, less muscular songs, with a much broader sonic palette than before. Becker’s attempts to situate natural sounds with more electronic ones is present in every song on the EP. You can hear it in the way “Garden of Our Neighbor” mixes lush synthesizers and brittle acoustic guitars with field recordings of birdsong and ocean swells, the manmade and the natural living side by side. There’s a greenhouse warmth to a song like “Fruiting Body,” the feeling of being surrounded by life, blossoming plants, fragrances and colors, brimming with a sense of wonder. How Becker’s wife Emily Elkin’s vocals soar birdlike over the grooving, bubbling electronic landscape of “Siren Rising.”

Paint by Numbers 1 is the sound of a band exploring, pushing the boundaries of themselves, discovering all they can do. These are songs to wander through, peppered with spots of joy and wonder, born out of resilience and hope. With a new LP and Paint by Numbers 2 on the way, Goon is carving its own path through the musical world, a band that could go anywhere from here.

[written by Jimmy Cajoleas]