Goon Sax – Brisbane Post-Punk – Visits Larimer

Goon Sax – Brisbane Post-Punk – Visits Larimer

November 3, 2018 Off By Billy Thieme

Photo & Story by Billy Thieme

Maybe it seems a little surprising that a trio of high school-aged teens (averaging at the ripe adolescence of 17) would put out a record that Metacritic called ” the eighth best-reviewed debut album anywhere in the world” in 2016. It seems more surprising – to me, anyway – that said trio still plays some of the most exciting and satisfying post punk-meets-US-indie music I’ve heard in a good while in 2018. The trio – Brisbane, Australia’s The Goon Sax, who are Louis Forster, James Harrison, and Riley Jones – are now 19, and in their fourth year of band success. Great work, if you can get it, and these just-past-adolescent artists more than deserve it.

The Goon Sax – the name comes from local Aussie jargon for the chrome bag that holds (or maybe hides) the nectar in a box of wine – played a short and decidedly sweet set of about 14 songs last Thursday night at the Larimer Lounge. The crowd was almost as small as the longtime Denver venue’s stage is short, coming in at under twenty total. But each and every one of those lucky enough to be in the audience seemed to truly want to be there, and all of them were grinning as they swayed or jerked to the angular, or jangular, indie pop.

I couldn’t stop thinking that Forster – son of Robert Forster, one of the frontmen of Australian legendary post-punk band the Go-Betweens – reminded me of an even lankier Ian Curtis as he belted out throaty lyrics from their two albums – 2016’s Up To Anything and 2018’s We’re Not Talking – dripping in teen angst, adult-sized. The three of them definitely showed their indie lineage, pulling as much from Belle & Sebastian‘s beautiful turns of phrase as from Joy Division‘s gritty overdrive, and from Oregon’s Beat Happening‘s jerky and angular (= jangular – there’s that word again, and you heard it here first as a musical term. I think.) pop tunes. 

Forster’s wistfully frenetic pinings during “Boyfriend,” his deprecating moments describing the existential angst of never achieving the right hair-do  in “Home Haircuts,” his nervous journaling during “Make Time 4 Love,” all played easily over rough cut and jumpy guitar/bass/drum concoctions, often channeling the naiveté of Jonathan Richman. These songs were juxtaposed with James Harrison’s talk-singing about loneliness in “Love Lost,” or his frustrated caginess in “She Knows,” or his pleading through “Sometimes Accidentally,” which actually seemed to come from a slightly angrier part of their record collection, maybe near PiL. Drummer Riley Jones showed off a beautiful voice for a few – “Losing Myself,” early in the set – and she also took up the guitar later.

Built on a strong foundation for melodies, super-sticky pop hooks, the perfect balance of social discomfort and an inherent loneliness, the Goon Sax showed a strong, possibly seminal potential in a short 40 minutes. They were infectiously exciting in their careless presence and refreshingly inexperienced-yet-brilliant sound, and they’ve got plenty of time to polish even more. I, for one, am looking forward to watching their progress.


  • Billy Thieme

    Aging punk rocker with a deep of all things musical and artistic, enough to remain constantly young and perpetually mystified. Billy has journalistic dreams, but of a decidedly pastoral, Scottish nature.