The Go! Team, off to a good start

I admit it: I jump to conclusions. I make largely unfair assumptions based on first appearances. Judging books by their covers? Let?s update that adage, make it a bit more relevant to 2005: Don?t judge a CD by its case. But I?ve learned my lesson, via The Go! Team?s newest release, Thunder, Lightning, Strike.

Their CD cover looks hand-drawn and, quite frankly, rushed and childish. And how about the name? The Go! Team? I picture craziness slightly akin to the antics of Peelander Zee: a band randomly shouting or screeching, only this time about high school. I picture music videos of really wacky cheerleaders and untraditional football players.

And for another thing, the first two song titles rhyme: ?Panther Dash? and ?Ladyflash.? Classy, I think to myself, making poems of your song titles. Oh, and then there?s the song title that reinforces the imagery of the football players, ?Huddle Formation.? There are also tracks whose titles just feel far too sentimental, ?Friendship Update? and ?Everyone?s a V.I.P. to Someone.? Touching, to be sure.

Review this? How many times can you rephrase ?Crap-on-plastic waste of money,? or ?Laser-etched trash?? All this before I go to my humble abode and actually listen to the music. I?m a horrible person, I know. But I assembled a set of rules for myself: two run-throughs before I was allowed to make a judgment based on what counted, the music.

And, as I?ve set you up to realize, it?s not bad. I shuddered to admit it, at first, but the music is fun to listen to. ?I could get used to that,? someone nearby said. That kind of sums up Thunder, Lightning, Strike. The Go! Team isn?t meant to be blared in your dorm room, around your Kanye-loving roommate. (And especially not when Real World: Austin is on, of course.) It?s definitely not going to be a hit among the pop-radio demographic.
But The Go! Team can be appreciated by the indie-dance-party kids, and that?s who they seem to be targeting. Jackson Five meets The Killers (for about 30 seconds on the beginning of track one, ?Panther Dash?) meets experimental meets ?70s television show theme song and ?80s pop. I think I detected banjos and pennywhistles, record scratching, and chanting (cheers?). It?s happy music, for people patient enough to realize that it?s probably not going to make Billboard?s next top-20 list. Or even Ryan Seacrest?s Sunday morning countdowns.

According to Rolling Stone?s article ?Go! Team Go Over the Edge,? posted October 4, the founder of The Go! Team, Ian Parton, originally wanted to meld together the elements of ?club culture with live, rock-band performance.? That intent alone helps to explain the inspirations for and the diversities within the music. The Go! Team?s members, along with their respective instrument choice, also combine to form a less standard, more unique set. Parton plays guitar, drums, and harmonica, with Chi Fukami Taylor also behind the drums, Sam Dook also playing guitar, Jamie Bell on bass, and final member Silke Steidinge as an ?MC Ninja and keyboardist/guitarist/drummer.?

The Go! Team, a semi-multicultural band hailing from the United Kingdom, just recently signed on to Memphis Industries/Columbia Records and debuted with Thunder, Lightning, Strike in the United States on October 4. They have embarked on their first U.S. tour, which began last Saturday in Texas, and they?ve already sold out three shows abroad in London, Glasgow, and Manchester.

Give it a little time, and their popularity is sure to germinate in the underground music scene here in the U.S. Track three, ?Feelgood by Numbers,? is a pleasantly low-key song that reminds me of Charlie Brown. ?Get it Together,? track five, is reminiscent of any number of animated movies where animals romp through the wild. And ?Junior Kickstart? will definitely wake you up in the morning.

So I hate to admit it ? and my visual sensibility is kicking me in the eyes at the moment ? but despite the ickiness of the CD cover, I?m about to import all the songs on Thunder, Lightning, Strike into iTunes. Without artwork.