Syntax Issue 10
Denver Syntax

We often talk about reaching into the past for influence and inflection. What I wonder is: what would it sound like if 1960 could bake the cake of 2008? If anything I think an arm of that Technicolor swirl might be the Denver/Boulder act of Good Housekeeping.

And yes, in a part of that picture pearl is the image of the magazine cover by the same name that we all know so well. But that magazine was never this sexy. This hot. This dark.

The provenance of Good Housekeeping can be found in the vignette of a morning diner and a girl walking into the fluorescent room while another is waiting tables. This is the painting of Paige Peterson walking into Valerie Green’s life. And surely, if this composite feels like anything, it probably sounds and feels a bit like the David Lynch-like dark lounge act that it is – with great dresses to-boot.

Owning a background in music, neither Peterson (Rhodes, lyrics) nor Green (bass, vocals) had exercised their rights in years. However, once the duo became inseparable from their nights in the late night diner – ambitions were set forth and very quickly, a band was formed. And in only a few short months, songs were not only composed, but an album was recorded.

In part, this is how the duo of Green and Peterson feels: quick and punchy. And interlaced with not only some good housekeeping and some great humor – but also an implied darkness. For while Green and Peterson are the consummate hostesses – who enjoy throwing parties and even baking goods for friends – they somehow also resonate as the two little girls in the hallway, in The Shining: Prim and proper yet inabiting a haunted Technicolor dream.

Now working as not only a duo, but a whole band – this weight has worked itself out, in music.

The impetus that morphed Green and Peterson into a musical duo was an ambitious and valuable social circle. Immediately upon their meeting, Green took Peterson into her community – namely the Rokbox studio in Boulder. There they found the support system that they would need: a recording studio, a gaggle of audiophiles and a pocket of astounding players. Quickly, songs were written and recorded; and in only a few short months the lives of both Green and Peterson would be enmeshed in a musical imbroglio.

Early on the band was forged. And now, accompanying Green and Peterson are the stellar musicians of: Dario Rosa (guitars, vocals), Jon Gray (keys, trumpet) and Zack Littlefield (drums).

Sure, they are kitschy. And in a vintage way, they are precise and proper. But they are a butterfly net that instead of catching colorful wings – has collected life. Literally, in their recordings they have collected the authentic life around them: from old tape machines, to dogs barking and people talking in the background, to the atmospheric pulse of a summer night. But the analogy in this is the idea that Green and Peterson have been creating the music that, for whatever reason, is simply coming out of them. In so many ways, there is an ultimate honesty to their work.

In all of this, there is a vulnerability. An honesty. For example, their vocals are an explicit source of exposure, a place of vulnerability. But it is in the band’s lyric writing where another layer of vulnerability resides. Written by Peterson, from her collections of journals and notebooks, her poetry has been incorporated into compositions. Skilled in her diction and linguistic aptitude – Peterson’s lyrics are economical. Like the music, she exhibits myriads of layers and vignettes which are laced through fingers that feel more like dreams than waking life. Here, there is a near-perfect mirror of music being represented linguistically.

Good Housekeeping is part-haunted summer day, part-baked goods and a surreal swirl of colors in an ethereal space. There is a certain vintage, or antique sound to their churning songs. But whichever way you pull their work apart – their usage of space is maybe the most provocative. Compositionally, their songs are simple – they loop back on their centers to create Bakelite bracelet wholes. Their Chavelle-like images are bright and mysterious, sometimes absurd – but also somehow insightful. Real.

But it is the band’s sense of dynamics and textures that have pulled them out of the pack of local musicians; and now they stand as an authentic, rare whole. A complete sound, still striving forward.

In this last year, Good Housekeeping has made strides forward. The girls have moved, from Boulder, to Denver. They have begun to truly understand that this is ultimately themselves. It is not false. But it is, instead, full of integrity and grit. Instead of trying for a sound and reaching for a look – Good Housekeeping is simply the end result of two lives being lead, in earnest and having the mastery and support around them to refine their reciprocating vision.

Keep up with this progressive act, on their website. For upcoming shows (and the possibility that you too may be the recipient of the girls’ baked goods), go here: www.myspace.com/waifgarden.