Found By Accident: ‘From Good Homes’

Originally posted September 19, 2008

From Good Homes is one of those bands whose acquaintance I made by accident, which is often the best way to find new music.

As was the case with a few other bands and performers, I met From Good Homes in the cheap seats, on the budget shelves at a Twin Cities outpost of Half Price Books. This HPB was in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park, and the CD From Good Homes was tucked into the lower level of a set of shelves, hard to see, hard to read and hard to reach.

I’ve always been glad for two things: One, that I took the time to lie nearly prone on the floor to grab hold of the CD with the tawny colored spine, and two, that no one came down the narrow aisle and stepped on my own spine while I was on my stomach.

The front cover had a simple drawing, a cartoon interpretation of woods and a meadow with a river, and the legend, “from good homes.” The back listed the titles of the tracks – in white on tan, a design flaw if ever there was one – and had another drawing in the same style, this one of a man in archaic dress playing a clarinet/wood flute by the shores of a body of water.

It was just odd enough to intrigue me, and if I recall correctly, the CD was priced at no more than two bucks.

I took it home to the nearby suburb of Plymouth and dropped it in the player. And I loved it. The music was rootsy and energetic, sometimes decorated with saxophone, sometimes with violin and mandolin. The vocals were strong, and the songs were well thought-out, with interesting lyrics. I ripped the CD to mp3s right away and listened to it frequently.

Intrigued, I dug into the same discount shelves on my next visit to the bookstore and found an earlier CD by the group, Hick-Pop Comin’ At Ya! This one was just as good, and I made a mental note to find the other two CDs the group had recorded. (I haven’t done so yet – other things get in the way – but more From Good Homes is still on my list.)

Here’s what All-Music Guide has to say about the group:

“From Good Homes [is] an eclectic, seasoned bunch of roots-rock musicians from New Jersey who have found success in the record business on their own terms. The group consists of Todd Sheaffer (vocals and acoustic guitar), Brady Rymer (bass and vocals), Jamie Coan (acoustic guitar, mandolin, fiddle and vocals), Dan Myers (saxophones, percussion, melodica and vocals), and Patrick Fitzsimmons (drums and vocals). Their generally positive, upbeat folk-rock and blues-rock sound and lyrics are a reaction to the mostly hardcore punk scene they came out of in the late 1980s. What makes the group distinctive are their choice of instruments and their melody-driven arrangements.”

Favorites? I like “Decision Song” with it haunting saxophone and its chorus, “It’s time for moving on.” I also like the metaphor of “The Butterfly and the Tree,” with its violin passages and its lilting and yearning chorus. And “Ride All Night” and “Broken Road” sometimes make me hit the replay button.

But the lyric that gets to me every time is in “House On A Hill”

This house on a hill sits perfectly still.
With treasures the rooms have been filled.
Closets inside hide boxes inside
with boxes inside of them still.

But oh, there’s something I still gotta know:
Won’t you follow me down to the road?

This house on a hill sits perfectly still.
With treasures our lives have been filled.
Memories inside hide memories inside
with memories inside of them still.

But, oh, there’s something I still gotta know:
Won’t you follow me down to the road?”

This house on a hill can sit perfectly still.
We can play permanent host
to all we have seen, all we have been,
to the ghost of a ghost of a ghost.
I can be king, you will be queen.
Together, we’ll dance ballroom
while nothing inside of nothing inside
of nothing inside of us blooms.

But, oh, there’s something I still gottta know:
Won’t you follow me down to the road?

From Good Homes maintains a current website, The Fruitful Acre, with a link to an archival site.* From Good Homes and Hick-Pop Comin’ At Ya! seem to be out of print, as are Open Up The Sky from 1995 and Take Enough Home from 2002, but the latter two albums are available as downloads through iTunes. (Take Enough Home is a live recording of the group’s last performance in August 1999.) **

Tracks:
Kick It On
Wake
Bang That Drum
The Day Is Alive
Ride All Night
Goin’ Out
Decision Song
The Giving Tree
The Butterfly and The Tree
House On A Hill
Broken Road
Cold Mountain

From Good Homes – From Good Homes [1998]

*The archival site is no longer active. Note added August 15, 2011.

**Newly available at iTunes and at Amazon is a downloadable collection titled Grrrrrrrr, which was released in February 2011. Note added August 15, 2011.

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One Response to “Found By Accident: ‘From Good Homes’”

  1. ‘As I Drove Back Into Hainesville . . .’ « Echoes In The Wind Says:

    […] band From Good Homes, as I wrote in 2008, is one of those that I found by accident, scouring the bottom shelf of the discount CDs in […]

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