Review by Joshua Maloni
I don't know what's harder, making it out of Buffalo or maintaining success in the record industry for two decades.
Somehow, the Goo Goo Dolls have managed to do both.
Since forming in the Queen City in 1985, breaking through and ultimately away from what was -- and still is -- a hotbed of artistic talent in Western New York, and finally landing national success with "Name" in 1995, Buffalo's most beloved export has managed to remain viable. Through unparalleled record industry changes (Napster, payola, mega mergers), fads, boy bands, a radio shift toward Nirvana ... and then Britney ... and then Eminem ... and then Lady Gaga, the Goo Goo Dolls have consistently found pay dirt at radio, the respect of the media, and love from the fans.
Achievement has come in the way of hits (four Billboard Top 10 albums and 14 Top 10 singles), record sales (10 million sold and counting) and national appearances (too numerous to list; the band performed just last month on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno").
Still, the music industry is the ultimate "what have you done for me lately?" business. Stats, facts and figures don't mean all that much when it's time to release a new album or try out new songs for fans.
Such knowledge can cloud a band's judgment and cause songwriting shifts that jolt loyal listeners. Fortunately, lead singer Johnny Rzeznik and long-time pal and bassist Robby Takac have blinders. Or, perhaps we should say they have musical principles? The artistic integrity that prevented the band from succumbing to "flavor of the month" status is seen once again in the Goo Goo Dolls' ninth studio album, the recently released "Something For The Rest Of Us."
Instead of focusing on rainbows and unicorns or whatever else would make for "easy listening," the Goo Goo Dolls latest project shines a spotlight on tough times -- namely, the economy, war and mass media.
Musically, "Something For The Rest of Us" is typical Goo Goo Dolls. It's a polished blend of potent pop-rock and earnest A/C. Lyrically, the 12 songs form an honest, upfront and sober look at society in the year 2010.
"I wanted some of the material on this album to address the disillusionment of the difficult period we live in; I wanted to give a voice to the emotional uncertainty that accompanies hard times," Rzeznik says in the band's bio. "So many people are struggling to keep it together through tough economic conditions and two wars that seem to have no end in sight. The ones who bear the brunt of these burdens are everyday people. That's who I want to speak to."
Judging from album's title, it's also evident that the Goo Goo Dolls are speaking to other bands -- bands that are struggling to break through musical clutter and societal indifference in the same way Johnny and Robby did 25 years ago.
Back then, "There were ... bands in the rest of America that spoke even more effectively to kids trying to ignore what the mass of pop culture was throwing at them," the Goo Goo Dolls bio reads. "Many of these bands, fueled on cheap beer and a general disdain for ‘The American Dream,' looked to Paul Westerberg and The Replacements for their inspiration."
Fittingly, the Goo Goo Dolls have now become the band that other musicians look to for musical guidance. Now a bit older, and wiser, the band is in perfect position to offer "Something For The Rest Of Us."
The Goo Goo Dolls return to Upstate New York on Saturday, Oct. 30. The band will take the stage at the Seneca Allegany Casino. The show begins at 7 p.m. For more information, or for tickets, visit http://www.senecaalleganycasino.com/entertainment.cfm.
•Visit the Goo Goo Dolls online at http://www.googoodolls.com.