By Paul Stinson
Not every Austin band earns their SXSW and Austin City Limits stripes in the same year – or in a lifetime – but that’s exactly what folk-psych rock outfit Good Looks is doing after winning a dedicated following over the last year.
The Austin four-piece, which evokes hints of blue-collar lyricism coupled with a dose of psychedelia and college rock, earned one of a handful of local artist spots at the Austin City Limits music festival in October, announced May 10 as part of the line-up by organizers.
Drawing from the shared fondness of Townes Van Zandt, Blaze Foley and other Texas legends, the friendship between vocalist/guitarist Tyler Jordan and guitarist Jake Ames gave rise to the hypnotic four-piece, earning the band a dedicated following, a slate of SXSW gigs and a sold-out April show celebrating their label debut Bummer Year on Keeled Scales Records.
Guitarist Jake Ames was hospitalized after being struck by a car hours after that release show, resulting in a fractured skull and brain injuries, prompting the cancellation of the band’s East Coast tour. Austin’s music community responded immediately with an outpouring of support, including a series of benefit shows and a GoFundMe campaign to help navigate hospital bills and costs not covered by insurance.
The local scene continues to rally, including a benefit show last Friday at Hotel Vegas headlined by Lola Tried, following an earlier benefit gig that included SXSW Six-Pack favorites Big Bill and Van Mary’s Emily Whetstone.
To see Good Looks live is to witness a mix of earnest and working-class songwriting set into a fuzzy almost Velvet Underground/Luna groove, punctuated by uncaged guitarwork that’s flammable enough to warrant a call to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
With singles including “Vision Boards” and “Almost Automatic” the band’s songcraft garnered a positive Pitchfork review in April, followed by Artist of the Month honors for the month of May by legendary Austin station KUTX.
The latter is heart-rendering and stunning in its meditative walk-up, threading that Replacements/Buffalo Tom needle of anxious and analytical:
Coming out here was a bad idea/You got trouble written on you, Lindsey, it’s so clear/See it in your face as you were looking at some guy/Being glad with who you got is something you ain’t never tried
The song builds and pivots to its warm chorus groove, asking the universal question of just how much appetite there is for self-delusion or playing the fool:
Why, why am I waiting on you, babe?/It’s almost automatic/Why, why am I waiting on you, babe?/It’s sort of semi-tragic
The song closes with a blistering reminder that magic still exists in the form of guitar solos. The outpouring in response by the Austin music scene – raising more than $63,000 in the last month – is a reminder that community is still a thing in the increasingly disparate and distracting Internet ether.
Ames, pictured this week on social media playing guitar is recovering from his injuries. Hope abounds as Austin continues to root for a full recovery and the return of one of the city’s most electrifying guitarists and promising bands to the stage.
Good Looks shows
June 11: Kerrville Folk Festival
Oct. 14-16: Austin City Limits Music Festival (weekend two)
SXSW Six-Pack is a yearly series of unapologetic enthusings/profiles on bands that need to be seen and heard by more people.
Paul Stinson is Nada Mucho’s Austin Music Correspondent. Formerly a Texas and Oklahoma statehouse correspondent for a major news organization, Stinson is plotting his next move and can be found lurking in Austin’s music shadows and Casino El Camino burger joint. Or playing with his cats Olive and Piko.