The Heligoats - Goodness Gracious
Record Label: Greyday Records
Release Date: January26, 2010
Those who are already familiar with Chris Otepka will know him as the quirky front man of the Chicago-based Troubled Hubble, an underground favorite who were finally thrust into the limelight with their 2005 album Making Beds In A Burning House. Unfortunately for Troubled Hubble fans, the band decided to call it a day just as all the pieces seemingly fell into place for the band to get the exposure they so rightfully deserved. However, after the collapse of Troubled Hubble, Otepka began to focus his creative energies on The Heligoats. I initially thought The Heligoats was a new band, which I suppose it is in a way, but it is in fact Otepka’s first creative outlet pre-dating the start of Troubled Hubble.
Goodness Gracious opens with “A Guide To The Outdoors”, a track that features the calming sounds of insects chirping in the night and Otepka’s deftly played acoustic guitar notes and sincere vocals instantly reel in the listener. The song slowly builds and the band helps Otepka create a song that gets the listener’s feet tapping and begs to be placed on repeat. Slowing things down a bit “Mercury”, is a wistful track that showcases a slightly more reserved side of Otepka’s personality and finds the band meshing an Americana vibe into their sound. “Fish Sticks” is like the auditory equivalent of a sugar rush – Otepka’s frantic strumming and rapid fire delivery blaze past the listener while chronicling two disparate life paths of the song’s characters.
For the most part the tracks on Goodness Gracious flow seamlessly into each other, but the album suffers a bit of a misstep with “Florida Panther” and “Aquifer” being placed back to back. “Florida Panther” is a “blink and you’ll miss it” track and “Aquifer” is a collection of sounds including waves crashing along the shore and people talking and laughing, and serves as an interlude that sticks out like a sore thumb. The album closes with the title track, which serves as a stark contrast to the opening album. While “A Guide To The Outdoors” starts out quite sparse with Otepka singing and strumming his acoustic guitars, but it quickly adds layers and creates a sound that simply envelops the listener, “Goodness Gracious” is sparse from start to finish and gives off a bit of a campfire sing-along vibe.
Goodness Gracious is an album that is charming and welcoming and will instantly appeal to longtime fans of Otepka’s work and newcomers alike. Goodness Gracious may not be breaking any new ground, but Otepka’s quirky lyrics and the strong melodies will keep listeners coming back for repeated listens. I wouldn’t be surprised if Goodness Gracious was a sleeper hit appearing on a few end-of-the-year lists.