Let me set the scene. It’s the hottest week of the year. There’s not a cloud in the sky and the only sound to be heard is the distant cries of a solitary group of seagulls circling high above my top floor flat. I’m parched and struggling to find the energy to raise myself from the sofa and get a drink when I receive an email containing my advance copy of the debut Goan Dogs EP, entitled 20 Minutes from the Border.
What unfolds when I hit the play button is the most apt musical accompaniment for a moment in time imaginable.
An acoustic guitar picks a latin arpeggio before a lone trumpet enters the fray and a cascade of vocal harmonies signal that the EP has begun. Immediately I am transported to the far dust plains of New Mexico, where gunslingers crash through saloon doors, scorpions await their first prey of the day and cactuses stand tall, filling the horizon. On opening my eyes at the end of its twenty six minute running time, I find it hard to believe I’m still sat in my Bristol flat.
Goan Dogs are storytellers, every song even more epic than the last and each track building in intensity before reaching its quivering climax. They have that rare knack of being able to lift you up and carry you away upon a wave of lush cinematic instrumentation and vivid lyrical imagery. It’s almost as if the band have set out to write a score to a film that has yet to be conceived, instead leaving it to the listener to create their own individual world to which their music merely forms the backdrop.
Highlights from the EP include single “Hold Me Back” with its rich harmonies and awkward shuffled rhythm section, the superb live sounds of “Better off Dead” and the infectious guitar line of “Hotel Rooms”. However, the greatest achievement of the record is how cohesive the songs are. Each flows into the next as if they were written in sequence; none feel out of place, adding to the cinematic feel of the recording.
20 Minutes from the Border is an EP to be played and enjoyed from start to finish and not to be picked apart. What it will sound like in the darkest depths of winter however remains to be seen, but for the moment the desert vibes couldn't be more fitting. Spellbinding.
Release: 29th July 2012, self-release