Goodnight Neverland, Oceans In The Clouds
I first came across Goodnight Neverland when they were coming to The Mink on a national tour. I went online to see what the band out of Clearwater, Florida, was about; little did I know that that search would deliver me my top band of 2012.
The first song I was introduced to was a video for their song “Weary Mind.” The mellifluous-yet-melancholy tune, from their 2011 EP Oceans In The Clouds, showcased guitarist and singer Kerry Courtney’s amazing vocals and songwriting ability, highlighted by a signature falsetto that felt more like brushstrokes on a canvas. His bandmates Jordan and Jeremy Tellone accompanied him on drums and bass and sculpted a song that left more of an emotional imprint than anything I had heard in the last three years.
After seeing them perform live and buying their EP, their CD didn’t leave my player for the next three weeks. I easily played certain songs on repeat for hours on end. What struck me about the music was that the songs seemed very much alive; no two listens felt the same, as if it was its own breathing, malleable entity, and at times they felt like tendrils from a hookah that you could inhale and imbue yourself with its very essence. It was a very emotional and soulful experience for me, something I hadn’t felt since hearing Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On for the first time.
It would be much later that I would learn that the EP was shaped from the tragedy that surrounded Courtney’s life, specifically the loss of his mother. It was interesting to understand the real depth of emotion that shaped the haunting and introspective flourishes on the album.
The songwriting is a masterstroke, especially since at a time I dealt with severe depression myself — knowing the denial when you’re pushing everything so far away and so far down it’s almost impossible to feel anything, that lyrics like, “Everyone’s wrong, I don’t feel numb / Maybe a little tired,” on “Winding Out (The Voice Tree),” have special meaning for me. Or when on the same song, Courtney claims quite simply, in a ever-lifting falsetto, that “Sunlight is not enough.”
On songs like “Weather Patterns,” the lyrics are almost prophetic, where the bridge resolves into the hauntingly prolific refrain, “Follow the rainbows to Fool’s Gold and shadows / But that won’t lead you to peaceful meadows,” or on “Fly Slow,” where he references Hansel & Gretel with the line, “I climb so high, just to find trails of blood I left behind” — because sometimes it is only our pain that will lead us home again.
This is definitely one of those bands that make you curse the heavens for not allowing them to be bigger than they are, and this is definitely one of the most underrated EPs I’ve heard all year; it’s not very far from being a masterpiece.