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What I would give to be a fly on the wall for the latest shareholder meeting of the Life Is Good corporation. Life has got considerably less good in recent years, let alone how hellish the past few months have been. I have to imagine that someone at the Massachusetts based clothing brand has noticed, do you think there is a brave board member pushing for a shift in the brand? I gotta imagine there is one guy who at least ran through some potential changes with his wife, too afraid to actually bring them to the board. “Honey, what do you think about Life is Fine or you know what about Life WAS Good?” The board member mulls over, before his wife reminds him that life is still very much good for the majority of the brand’s clientele buying the clothes on Marthas Vineyard and Nantucket. Looking at their website the brand seems to be doing everything in their power to keep the illusion alive, just making clothes for whoever can still wake up and tell themselves that Life is Good. While there is nary a BLM or charity related shirt of any kind to be seen, they are featuring a whole collection dedicated to letting the fellas know you’ll be golfing your way through 2020.
I similarly don’t know whether or not the brand has discussed issuing a c&d to Orange County, NY’s Elephant Jake over the cover art for their new EP Looking Good Feeling Good, but they’d be smarter to look at the tongue in cheek handling of their brand as a potential way forward. Hell I might even suggest bringing the band on as lifestyle consultants if I was a shareholder. The EP sounds like the guys feel good for starters. Even if the high energy jangle of their music belies less pleasant emotions underneath the surface, a fun song is a fun song at the end of the day.
All four tracks on the EP feel equally inspired by the kind of 90’s pop rock that the band likely grew up with on the radio and the Modern Baseball era emo that I have a feeling every member of the group filled up their iPods with a little later in their lives. Much like MoBo, Sal Fratto and Colin Harrison split the singing duties on this EP and each brings a nasally edge that comes off as charmingly DIY rather than whiney or mopey. They are self aware about who they are and the kind of music they want to make, but don’t let being emo-adjacent that get in the way of having a good time. These tracks are as catchy as the musicians that inspired them, and each had a chorus or refrain that got lodged in my subconscious. Aidan from Jail Socks correctly pointed out that the EP’s third track “The Time I Brought You Soup” sounds like Rusted Root before turning into Hootie and the Blowfish, and yes, he meant those both as massive compliments. You’ll inevitably end up humming “Do you wanna do somethiiiiiin, do you wanna do something with me,” to yourself the same way your pops was humming “Only Wanna Be With You” when he bought his first Life Is Good shirt back in 1996.
One thing that I didn’t know about Life is Good until researching them was that the beret and sunglasses clad stick figure who has been plastered on their countless t shirts over the years in in fact canoncially named Jake. Looking back at old t shirts the beret never really felt right for him though, it always seemed like a decision they made because it was easier than drawing hair. I don’t know if Elephant Jake also took naming inspiration from our stick figured friend, but Jake has never looked better than he does sporting a mohawk and a Rolling Rock on this EP’s cover. A few listens will have you smiling wide like Jake, singing along gingerly without a care in the world as if life actually was good. These are fun, catchy tracks from a promising young band. I hope they’ll be rocking shows and having corporations reconsider their branding strategy for years to come.
Elephant Jake are selling pocket t’s to commemorate the EP with all proceeds going to the “House of Resilience” — A San Diego non-profit dedicated to providing housing for trans women of color. The EP is also available for purchase on cassette on Chillwavve’s website. You can also check out the band on twitter, insta, or facebook!