I don’t particularly like talking ill of hard working bands so I won’t mention the name of the truly ghastly sounding headline act, but the redeeming feature of the evening at the wonderful Trades Club in Hebden Bridge early in 2017 was the performance from the local support, Burnley’s The Goa Express.
From the off it was clear these guys knew how to party and how to set a crowd alight. Coming into the Trades up the stairs from the cold winter outdoors it was something of a blistering breeze to find the stage room fully buzzing with teens full of energy, and a band firmly in command of proceedings. I’m a huge fan of 1960’s garage and Iggy and the Stooges type stuff, and The Goa Express seem to blend the sounds of Iggy and the likes of Primal Scream together seamlessly.
More recently when I spotted The Goa Express were releasing a rare single on vinyl on a limited edition of 250, I decided I had to rush off and get it ordered. Heh, what’s one vinyl single when you already own a couple of thousand huh? I did recall the Goa Express’ signature tune and title track on the single, Goa, from my live experience. While Goa is a short track, it’s perfectly formed with a lovely banging tune strong enough to get granny taking her teeth out to keep them safe, and doing a stiff jig across the room (don’t forget original Iggy Pop fans will be well into their 70’s by now). The track is accompanied by an obligatory 60’s groovy style video of a man surfing in some psychedelic waves. It may be a somewhat predicable image, but if it works don’t try and fix it.
Lead singer James Douglas Clarke has a wonderfully nihilistic and pensive drawl on the track Goa, while there’s some perfectly persistent fuzzy guitar riffs from the guitars of Clarke and Joey Stein and the synth sound of Bryn Davies bring something of the Doors to the frame. I’m guessing it’s little co-incidence that Jim Morrison’s full name was James Douglas Morrison and his mother’s surname was Clarke. I think I have you busted James Douglas Clarke. Naham Muzzaffar on bass, and Sam Launder on drums make up this particularly stylish and hip set of teenagers.
B-side of the single, Kiss Me perhaps offers a better chance to study the band as it’s a rather longer track. There’s some rather cool mid 1960’s vocalising and echo on this track, and again the voice is accompanied by that insistent driving Stooges sound. There’s a brilliant fuzzy instrumental guitar solo in the middle of this track which I really need to set as my morning alarm sound; it will be something worth waking up to in the darker mornings methinks.
There’s something really powerful and engaging about that throw back to 1960’s psychedelic garage music, and Goa Express make pretty perfect examples of the genre, and are one of the hottest banging bands I’ve seen live this year. Catch ‘em live and pick up that rather cool pale sky blue vinyl before that Express leaves the station and really takes off.
See the Goa Express video for Goa and buy the vinyl here: https://wrongwayrecords.bandcamp.com/album/goa-kiss-me