Gold Light – [Self Titled]
Hannah says of GOLD LIGHT – “But Chang believes—no, he knows that—there is still beauty in this world to make sense of, there are still mysteries and there is still love—all kinds of it.”Hannah Cook
out of 10
September 7th, 2013
Bands who are blatantly influenced by the classics circa anywhere from the 50s to the 80s can quite easily fall into shabby territory. They can end up sounding like that god awful band who plays at your local bar on Tuesday nights and a dozen or so faux tan, wrinkly mothers flock every time, smoking cigarettes and smacking their red lips while gracelessly grinding up on one another’s cheetah print when the guitarist, wearing a bandana to hide his wispy balding head, goes in for his solo. They’d probably be the band your uncle hired to play at his wedding (to his second wife), too (spoiler alert: they get divorced). Bless all those seasoned rock ‘n’ roll souls, though. They’re just having fun so what’s it to me?
But then there are hidden gems like Gold Light, a little project of Asheville native Joe Chang who sought folky, Appalachian inspiration in the hills of Eastern Kentucky only to find an adoration for Doo Wap and 50s rock. Somewhere along the way of losing track, he discovered a new version of his musical self.
As a musician and an independent filmmaker, Chang was seemingly always doing something new and different at any given moment, albeit behind closed doors. Maybe he was never quite satisfied, like a true tortured artist. But Gold Light suggests Chang must really be an optimist. This album, the only properly released work from Chang in a while, makes you forget about all the crap going on this cold, cold world by making alive again the elements of what makes the classics classic—the purity and innocence of what love could and should be, the sweet lyrics and the quivering harmonies.
The classic inspirations are anything but subtle. “True Love Never Dies” could have been in Grease when Danny was wallowing over Sandy at the drive-in after he accidentally nudged her in the boob and she ran off. The Beach Boys are alive in “Endless Beauty” and The Doors in “Last Night (In My Dreams).” Even Elvis and Robert Smith come to mind when hearing Chang’s handsome voice. But what prevent this album from falling into the aforementioned shabby territory are the hints of modernity, difficult to pinpoint. But it is that near inability to identify where the modernity lies that makes it something fresh. It is an off kilter combination of new and old.
Somewhere between the invention of the cell phone and now, things have become less classically romantic. You can’t describe a pub the way Ernest Hemmingway, for example, describes a pub because, well first off, no one knows a pub like Hemmingway and second, neon lights and drunk girls taking selfies in the bathroom have replaced candle lights and quiet, meaningful conversations with bartenders. Even love doesn’t seem to feel like it might of when people couldn’t do things like text each other or send one another nudes. People are just generally less aware of, less wholly involved in the world around them.
But Chang believes—no, he knows that—there is still beauty in this world to make sense of, there are still mysteries and there is still love—all kinds of it. Through Gold Light, Chang has given us some hope that yeah, Miley Cyrus is one of the most famous people in the world and she’s always half naked with her tongue sticking out, but also, there are dogs that make lonely people happy and there are road trips with friends and laughing babies and holding hands and French fries and lots of other happy stuff too.