Goldfinger ditch the ska-punk for rock & roll and honesty.

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Warning: There is an electric fence around promotional copies of Goldfinger’s latest Maverick Records release, Disconnection Notice.

It’s not a veritable electrified enclosure, but a booby trap nonetheless. The discs come in a black-and-yellow paper sleeve that must be opened by pulling a zip-tab. If you open Pandora’s Compact Disc, the disc’s bold black text screams, you’re agreeing to a Warner Music Group lawyer’s laundry list of conditions. You can probably guess them; they’re the usual suspects. One, however, is that only the authorized recipient may listen to the disc until the release date and said recipient must also keep it safe from unauthorized use. This means burning, selling or uploading. No word as to whether “beer coaster” or “Chinese throwing star” fall under this umbrella.

Ridiculous, eh? Even John Feldmann, singer-guitarist-songwriter-leader of the aforementioned band, kind of thinks so. But only kind of. “It’s a scare tactic,” says Feldmann, made necessary by the “Kazaa Theory” of online music trading. It’s strange to hear an artist admit this, isn’t it? Most of ’em like to play good cop/bad cop with the label, let them take the heat for putting up walls around music. Feldmann isn’t taking all the blame; he’s just looking at it realistically and honestly.

“It’s f—kin’ weird how things have changed so much,” Feldmann muses. Preach it, brother man. (City Weekly pulled the zip-tab, by the way. Nothing exploded. No one was hurt. No springy-snake popped out. We assume this isn’t classified info.)

By now, if you’re a Goldfinger devotee, you’ve come to expect a degree of difference with each new Goldfinger album. Since the band’s breakout album, 1996’s ska-punky Goldfinger, they’ve inched more and more toward a less-specialized direction into the realm of straight-up rock & roll—thus, Goldfinger could breathe and follow their muse as they strayed beyond genre-specific boundaries (which arguably has kept them in business).

Disconnection Notice is somewhat of a pinnacle in this process and different enough, compared to previous outings, to warrant at least a modicum of secrecy. If only, you know, to preserve the element of surprise.

All the Goldfinger hallmarks—manic energy, anthemic choruses, big guitars—are present and accounted for, but new elements and sounds abound. “My Everything” bears the influence of the emo movement (likely because of Feldmann’s production dalliances with such bands, like our own The Used) but also smacks of Rush in particular spots. “Damaged” and “Wasted” sport a—gasp!—mandolin; the former even features a sampled Indian vocal, the latter tinged with Flogging Molly’s Celt-punk. “Uncomfortable” marries mariachis to Rastafarians. “FBI,” ostensibly about the animal-rights activist Feldmann’s recent run-in with the Feds, is a dubby reggae number. Another Federal shakedown song, “Iron Fist,” doesn’t even feature a distorted guitar.

“The older I get,” Feldmann explains, “the more I grow, there are so many different stylistic influences. I listen to all kinds of music [depending on my mood]. I listen to Ani DiFranco or Coldplay or Marley and it helps me through this feeling. I listen to Refused or Slipknot or Glassjaw [for other feelings].” His goal, he says, was to somehow make “good, honest music” that did that for him. “I don’t want to make a record that’s just one-sided. I’d be lying to myself and dishonest to my own heart.”

What Feldmann said about the music business applies to the record: It is f—kin’ weird how things have changed so much. At the same time, it’s great to hear a band that came out of the ’90s ska-punk revival stretching out—and successfully, at that. While Disconnection Notice might be different—and rather aptly named, as it may alienate some fans—it is a surprisingly mature and varied outing coming from the guys who gave us such a drippy-cool hopeless romantic tune as “Here In Your Bedroom.” And in its eclecticism is accessibility—no electric fence, everyone is welcome. It’s up to them to see if they want to roll with Goldfinger’s changes.

“In the end, it’s gonna piss some fans off,” Feldmann says. He’s OK with that, despite the fact that, when he checks the message boards, he sees that most of their fans want the ska-punk: “Their favorite bands are Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish.”

The important thing, of course, is that this Goldfinger album is something Feldmann can be proud of. The band aren’t giving in to anyone’s expectations, and are working only to satisfy themselves. If they can connect with the material, hopefully the fans will come along for the ride.

“This album,” Feldmann says, “I know I love it and I can listen to it from start to finish and enjoy it. Of course I want it to be successful and I want the fans to love it. But in the end, the most important thing is that I was true to myself.”


Lo-Fi Café

127 S. West Temple

Wednesday, March 9

7 p.m.


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