By Elijah Jarocki
The first time I saw Total Goth was on Record Store Day 2016. Boulder was dreary and bleak. White clouds circled around Absolute Vinyl while our collective excitement for limited edition vinyl releases was pitted against Colorado’s fog and gloom. Niko Kuklin, Melisande Osnes, and Ryan Farabee worked their amplifiers through throngs of bustling record junkies and set up in the back left corner of the busy store. Two guitars, a black bass, drum machine, and a couple amplifiers. When Total Goth stepped into their first song, I couldn’t keep from leaking a strange smile. The threepiece outfit shone in spite of the storm with a strange blend of surf, lo-fi, and indie pop that was naive, jubilant, and outright exciting. Since April, Total Goth have added Jessica Winternheimer on drums, been frequent players at Club Scum, The Juice Church, and Backspace, and have become a well-known name in Denver’s DIY music community. Total Goth’s new release R U Still Coming 2 My Party? is Radio 1190’s November CD of the month.
Upon first listen, R U Still Coming 2 My Party? is super-reminiscent of lo-fi darlings Beat Happening. Niko’s a deadringer for Calvin Johnson’s personality: charismatic yet anxious with a distinctive voice and persona. He and Ryan share vocal responsibilities, both have different styles which complement each other. The two also play guitar, trading hooks and rhythms like a musical fisherman’s clothing swap. Melisande and Jessica hold down the bottom end with bass and drums that play exactly what’s needed, nothing more. Total Goth’s minimal sound highlights lyrics and guitar hooks, making the outfit easily understood and undoubtedly catchy. The words deal with insecurity through pop archetypes. While pop music often seems hollow by using vague phrases and indistinct terms of affection, Total Goth feels honest with their common diction and nervous songwriting. R U Still Coming 2 My Party? holds up after dozens of listens–every track on this 5-song EP has something special.
Total Goth cut this record with Max Popoff (Lushing, Byrgeau Noil) at The Juice Church in Denver. If anything, R U Still Coming 2 My Party? is proof that genuine music exists in Denver, and it’s worth supporting. Check out other new releases from No Direction Records, and swing through a couple DIY venues while you’re at it. I’m sure you’ll be hyped. You’ll hear Total Goth a ton on Radio 1190, R U Still Coming 2 My Party? Is our November CD of the Month.