Sensory Overload: Goners

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From the August 8, 2013 edition

When I saw the two-woman punk band Katherine for last week’s column, someone mentioned drummer Catherine Elicson’s other band, Goners, whose name I’d heard but whose music I hadn’t. I liked her drumming, so I checked out Goners on Bandcamp and just about lost it (in a good way). Conveniently, they had a show last Wednesday at Dreadful Sounds, so I made it a point to attend.

(Goners was an unfortunately appropriate name for a show at Dreadful Sounds, which is in the process of shutting down — another impetus for stopping by.)

Columbus is experiencing a renaissance of ’90s-style indie rock— Connections, WVWhite, Sega Genocide, Cliffs, Van Dale, Brat Curse (formerly Pharoahs), The Kyle Sowashes (not new, but still holding it down) — and Goners fits into that.

I have no idea if the members of Goners — which also includes guitarist Alex Mussawir and bassist Aaron Miller — are fans of Times New Viking, the influential and awesome Columbus band that injected extra art-school kerfuffle into lo-fipop this state has always done so well. But they all would’ve been in high school when TNV was in its prime, so it’s easy to imagine that stuff seeping into Goners’ collective DNA.

Whether it traces back to TNV or not, that same feeling of voices-to-the-ceiling abandon struck me while Goners played — limbs flailing, lungs pumping, gnarly riff-driven punk tunes (one called “Teenage Depression” no less) sharing space with loud-yet-melancholy Zippo-flickers.

This band is more playful, though — Mussawir’s Twitter bio lists him as a stand-up comic, after all — and they move at a slightly lazier gait, with traces of mid-tempo Built to Spill languor in the mix. The sonic accessories came mostly from the guitar in the form of noisy squiggles and effects-drenched high-end riffs, though Miller's bass burst through the haze with a few flourishes.

Everybody sings, but Mussawir and Elicson handle most of the leads. Her voice is a lot sweeter and clearer than his, whereas he boasts the enviable skill of ravaging his vocal cords to the point of rawness without losing the note. They make a fine combo, and together with Miller they’ve got themselves a hell of a band.