Few have captured artistic honesty, musical purity, and sheer songcraft as LA’s Goldspot do on their full-length debut Tally Of The Yes Men, an inspired melding of decades of rock and pop influences with the melodic sensibilities of traditional Indian music. Imagine Paul Simon heading to Mumbai to record his next record and listening to the Cure on the flight and you’re getting close.
Siddhartha (founder, lead singer/songwriter of Goldspot) is quick to pay tribute to his early influences: “I grew up listening to whatever my parents had in their cassette decks - Mohd. Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Mukesh - these were great Indian playback singers from the 1940’s and 50’s. The melodies were brilliant. And then one day when I was 14, I figured out that if you flipped the switch on the stereo from ‘tape’ to ‘radio’ you could hear music with English words. That’s when I heard R.E.M.’s “Green,” and it was my first introduction to Western music.”
Goldspot thrives on Siddhartha’s creative chemistry with drummer and co-writer Ramy Antoun. “Sid would come to me with demos of the songs that he had recorded in his apartment, and we would finish them together.”
“We both have similar backgrounds,” notes Siddhartha, referring to his Indian upbringing and Ramy’s formative years in Egypt. “There’s a lot of connection on that level,” confirms Ramy.
Hence Goldspot’s relentless yet delicate melodic prowess, and what they term their “Bollywood” undertones within Western guitar-pop templates. “Indian music from the early 20th Century is very much a part of who I am and a very big part of how I write,” Siddhartha expands. “That music’s based completely in melody – you can barely hear the music, all you hear is the vocal melodies, which are so strong that you remember them. Our influences extend from Mohd. Rafi, to Roy Orbison, to the Smiths.”
Goldspot came to the attention of Russ Rieger, a long time friend of Ramy’s. As a former top executive at Maverick REeords and London Records, Rieger worked with a vast array of artists including Prodigy, Deftones, DJ Shadow, Meatpuppets and Portishead. As a manager, Rieger worked with the Replacements, the Del Fuegos, Cyndi Lauper and Prong. When he started his own label, Union Records, Goldspot was an obvious choice for his roster.
Tally Of The Yes Men (a title inspired by Siddhartha’s time in a cubicle-confined office job) didn’t come easily, but for the best of reasons, says Siddhartha, who spent endless hours co-producing the disc with Ramy and veteran Beach Boys/Brian Setzer engineer Jeff Peters, “we took our time, because we wanted everything we put into the music to have a purpose.”
The results are worth the wait, as Tally Of The Yes Men is one of those rare records that’s has both instant appeal and listening longevity, accessible hooks and authentic artistry, all revolving around Siddhartha’s remarkable ear for melody and Ramy’s driving pulse. “Bollywood” flavors permeate the record: the xylophone post-chorus interludes of “Rewind”; the strings in the bridge of “The Guard”; and the subtlety and phrasing of Siddhartha’s vocals.
Opening track “Rewind” proved pivotal to the album’s timbre. “That song was a defining moment for the record,” Ramy explains, and it was “Rewind” that caught the ear of L.A.’s taste-shaping KCRW DJ Nic Harcourt, who put the track in regular rotation. Other stations soon followed suit and Goldspot’s live crowds swelled.
Seth McLain, who’d been second engineer on the album, joined the live line-up, as did Siddhartha’s friend Derek Horst, and Sergio Andrade, a friend of Ramy’s. On stage Goldspot breathe energy, warmth and connection into their tunes, while remaining remarkably faithful to Tally Of The Yes Men’s involved intricacies and signature nuances.
“Our goal is to play everywhere,” enthuses Siddhartha. “When you spend a year and a half in the studio trying to create something, then you’re up on stage actually performing it, you can’t think of anything except how much you love the music ... I think the most natural form of how any of us exist is in the performance setting.”
A triumphant residency at Hollywood’s Hotel Cafe confirmed that Goldspot’s quality is prevailing. Yet Siddhartha’s un-fazed by the sudden sense of expectation: “I don’t have any fears for the future, because this is the first time that I feel completely at ease and completely comforted by the fact that this is the most honest representation of who we are and our artistry.”
Simple as that.