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Goran to perform at Legends

Scene Writer | Friday, March 19, 2004

Milwaukee, Wis. is not exactly the alternative music capitol of the world. For those in the alternative scene, however, a band emerged from the Brewery City in the early 90s and quickly established a reputation with heartfelt songs and a refreshing energy. The band was The Gufs, and the lead singer and songwriter was Goran Kralj. After landing a deal with Atlantic Record in the mid-nineties, the group released two albums, both of which received critical and popular acclaim across the country. With ten years of experience, unbelievable live shows and solid albums recorded, The Gufs were flying high into the new millennium. In 2002, however, the Gufs disbanded, much to the dismay of the legions of fans the group had acquired since they first started out. In the year that followed, Kralj realized he couldn’t stop writing and still had too much energy to simply stop performing. Though the songs he wrote were all intended to be Gufs songs, Kralj realized the band just wasn’t going to get back together. Quickly putting together a group of performers, Kralj decided to strike out on his own and continue with the sound he had developed in the band over the last decade. After a year of work the new band, simply called Goran, emerged with “Any Day Now,” his first solo effort. Fans of the Gufs will be pleased to hear many of the band’s signature musical elements maintained in Kralj’s sound. Most obvious is the distinct and versatile voice of Kralj himself. He has the ability to go from a quiet, almost raspy whisper, to an intense volume riding over guitar riffs. Many alternative critics complain of songs on an album all sounding the same, but Kralj has furthered his song-writing skills even from the best days of the Gufs. The album is decidedly more upbeat than the second Gufs album, “Holiday From You.” The songs are catchy without being tacky, and Kralj crafts pop melodies that match the versatility of his voice. From the mellow “Don’t (let the sun go down)” to the punching guitar hook of “To Be Me,” Kralj delivers an album that reminds fans of the best times of the Gufs, yet also distinguishes himself as a solo artist and an exciting new force in alternative music. As Goran’s Web site (www.goranmusic.com) describes, during the recording of “Any Day Now,” Goran was so struck by the attacks of Sept., 11th, he released a song shortly afterward. The single “Where Are You Now?” combines Goran’s almost haunting voice with the gorgeous accompaniment of a piano and cello to create a sound uniquely appropriate in memory of the victims. It also exposed many people to the artist who normally would have never known who or what The Gufs were. In their biography section of the website, Goran describes the theme of “taking chances” that is heard throughout the new album. Though he continued to write after the break-up of The Gufs, Goran didn’t think of picking up a guitar to play the songs until a college roommate insisted he try it. “Don’t be afraid of taking chances,” Kralj says of the album and the songs he’s written. “Ready to Fall” tells the story of a girl who consistently rushes into love no matter what has happened to her in the past. In “I’ll Be Around”, Goran sings of someone who gives up everything to be with the one they love. The result of Goran’s experience, his often surreal but always believable voice, his diverse and sincere songs, and an unmatched energy will be available in concert this Saturday night at Legends, with doors opening at 9:45 p.m. Followers of the Gufs were often known to follow the Gufs around the country, often seeing dozens of shows a year. Goran is guaranteed to show all those in attendance what it’s like to truly connect with a musician. His energy in concert has been described as mesmerizing, spiritual and exciting. Goran is definitely one of the most exciting acts to come through Legends’ new doors this year. Fifteen years ago alternative music defined itself in Seattle, but today one of its most powerful voices is that of a kid from Milwaukee. Few can dispute his talent, and Goran hopes his new album and new life as a solo artist will only further the work he achieved with the Gufs.