The Public Good

No. 1

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The tuneful, guitar-driven sound of the Public Good is nothing if not familiar, giving the impression of a group of musicians who learned to play by memorizing every note of Beatles '65 and other pop/rock of the mid-'60s, a style that has stayed remarkably current over the subsequent 45 years. So, the rhythm section of bassist Steve Ruppenthal and drummers Chris Garges and/or Matt Everhart locks into a propulsive groove, over which guitarists John Elderkin and Sam Esquith (both of whom also play keyboards occasionally) strum chiming riffs, creating catchy arrangements to support the vocals. Those vocals, alternately and sometimes together by Elderkin and Ruppenthal (who form the songwriting team) locate the Public Good in the genre of smarty-pants self-conscious artists such as Ben Folds and Fountains of Wayne. The third song, "(Imagine the Girlfriends I'd Have) If I Still Had Hair," reveals its humorous intent in its title, while other songs locate the jokes within the verses, but either way Elderkin and Ruppenthal are, to an extent, playing it for laughs. The trick with this sort of thing always seems to be to achieve wit without resorting to outright novelty, and for the most part the writers in the Public Good balance on that precipice without tipping over. Sometimes, they even seem to pull their tongues out of their cheeks and sing sincerely.

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