Folk rock tunes for the happy/sad times

September 26, 2012

From the print edition

When San José local band Foffo Goddy takes the stage, the members Arturo Pardo and Daniel Bissinger introduce themselves as the world’s smallest trio. It’s a strange if telling start, as it accurately suggests that the band is more than it appears.   

Manuel Montero

Manuel Montero

Pardo and Bissinger have been playing together in different projects since they were both in high school. They went through progressive and grunge bands before they finally settled on Foffo Goddy’s sound: a melancholy-tinged but also harmonic and playful breed of folk rock. 

The band’s eponymous first album was released last January and contains seven tracks that range from powerful opener “…And the Hand Waved” (oh by the way, they write all their lyrics in English) to the feel-good “Between the World and Me.” There’s some bluegrass in there, too, in the form of “Flying Bull,” the band’s current radio single and a crowd favorite at shows. 

The duo’s voices play a big part in the music, with Bissinger and Pardo taking equal shares of the singing duty. The lyrics seem to take a back seat to the whimsical vocal melodies; at times, they seem to be just jamming around, incorporating whistling and other elements into the music. At the heart of the band are its two acoustic guitars, which receive occasional support from an acoustic bass, banjo or Peruvian charango. 

During a live performance, expect lots of quirky banter between the two, followed by some calm, trance-like moments. Foffo Goddy was chosen as the opening act for Bob Dylan’s first and only Costa Rica show last May, and their performance, although too short to make a lasting impression on most of the crowd, certainly set a proper tone for the night. 

Lyrically, there is some melancholy to Foffo Goddy. On their EP at least, most of the songs deal in one way or another with the idea of leaving, saying goodbye, or losing a loved one. There is a certain sense of longing, but it’s not dark. It’s actually similar to the feeling caused by looking through an old photo album. There is some comfort in the longing. From closing track “Ending”: 

Smile and cry and love the rest
Share your feelings with the ones that stay
I’m dreaming that you never left
But I know that you never came that day

It’s the kind of song that could apply to just about anybody’s life. All told, Foffo Goddy is sort of like the VCR tape you might come across in your attic, only to find it full of sepia-toned images from a different, somehow better, time. And that’s what makes them so good. 

Foffo Goddy’s debut album can be downloaded, for free, at www.foffogoddy.bandcamp.com. More info on live shows can be found at www.foffogoddy.com.

Manuel Montero is the morning DJ at 104.7 Hit FM (www.1047hit.com), for which he also hosts and produces El Chivo, a weekly show on Latin American rock music. Additionally, he contributes to 89decibeles.com.

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