Good Men Doing Nothing - Under Promise Under Deliver [EP] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Good Men Doing Nothing

Under Promise Under Deliver [EP] (2020)

Self Released

Good Men Doing Nothing are a band that I don’t have a good musical reference point for. Despite being a relatively unfamiliar sound, or maybe because of it, I found myself really enjoying Under Promise Under Deliver. I enjoyed the fact that the band’s name is inspired by a Edmund Burke quote from 250 years ago, and I enjoyed the fact that the EP took its title from the bastardization of empty corporate sloganeering.

There are familiar elements in GMDN’s sound. There are bits of folk, lo-fi, and blues, as well as punk and classic rock. It’s like Violent Femmes, Guided By Voices, Tom Waits, Against Me! and Creedence Clearwater Revival were all tossed into a musical blender. The stories are told from the perspective of someone who acknowledges that a lifetime of mistakes have led them to their current sorry state, but they’ve somehow made peace with it. It’s like the title of the 1994 Submachine record - Now That I Have Given Up Hope, I Feel Much Better.

Opener “Barstool/Kompromat” starts slowly but eventually turns into a barroom shuffle. The lyrics are delivered in a low, raspy, half spoken cadence. Acoustic and electric guitars fight for room in the mix, but both get their chance to shine. Guitar solos come in short bursts. “Coinstar” is a breakup song. Not the sad type, but rather the “don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out” type. “Compound” challenges the old adage “home is where the heart is”.

“Pants” is written from the point of view of an old man living in a nursing home. “Mercury Filling” takes a stab at upstroked ska. (It may even have a small Misfits Easter egg in the lyrics, though I can’t say with complete certainty.) Closer “Rough Cuts” is the most upbeat song on the Under Promise Under Deliver EP, and arguably the best. It’s the catchiest of this handful of mostly catchy songs.

I’m a fan of what Good Men Doing Nothing are doing. The Baltimore quartet are in fact doing something, and it’s got a certain crotchety-ness that feels all too familiar to these sometimes weary bones. If you’re a little glum as 2021 picks up right where 2020 left off, give GMDN a spin. Under Promise Under Deliver might just help put things perspective. Hell, it might even lift your spirits.