Article Contributed by McGuckin Enter… | Published on Tuesday, May 7, 2024

When Matt Krahula realized the 10th anniversary was coming up for Last Goodbye, the very well-received album he’d penned and performed as a member of the Nightmare River Band, he wanted to do something special to celebrate that release and, in his words, “give the songs some new life.”

Krahula, who plays bass with Hawaiian artist Henry Kapono, loved the concept behind Kapono’s The Songs of C&K, for which he’d asked younger-generation performers to reimagine songs from his days in the duo Cecilio & Kapono, then performed on their versions. But living in Hawaii made in-person collaborations a bit challenging for Krahula, who sought contributions from artists living on several continents. So he asked them to record on their own.

The result, Last Goodbye 11, is a remarkable collection of songs that sound radically different than the originals, but are every bit as engaging. The album will be released on June 14, just shy of Last Goodbye’s 12th anniversary — which is why Krahula decided to put “11” in its title. “Creative types work at their own pace, so here we are,” he says. ”But it just feels so right. Eleven years, 11 songs, 11 new artists."

As for those artists, Krahula characterizes them as “a collection of friends I've met over my 20 years of gigging.”

“Some were friends from college; some were musical collaborators for many years; a lot of them were around when I initially toured Last Goodbye with the Nightmare River Band, and a few were new friends that I introduced to the album with this project,” he says. “The main thing I was interested in was finding an artist for each song who would dedicate the same level of passion and care that we put into the original recordings.”

In one of many glowing reviews that 2012 release earned, PopMatters said, “The Nightmare River Band combine the best elements of American music, from punk attitude to pop sensibility. … It’s pure exhilaration. All of the songwriting throughout is spectacular and shapes these songs into vibrant slices of life. They feel honest and they feel real.” Tagging the band’s sound as alt-country, the review labeled Last Goodbye as one of that year’s most pleasant surprises and “absolute best” releases.

While Last Goodbye 11 could hardly be categorized as alt-country — or any one genre — it carries every bit of the original’s intensity and much of its exuberance. Which is saying something for an album so focused on loss and grief.

“This really is a collection of sad songs,” Krahula admits. “Some are hidden in upbeat, fun arrangements, but the melancholy still lingers. The title track was written a few days after my grandfather passed away. We were quite close and it was a big loss.”

Others, including “Why Don’t You Love Me,” are about a breakup with a romantic partner, but “Mary,” “Walk On,” “Robots” and “Goodbye to Your Friends” deal with the breakup of his college band, Fire Flies.

“It was the end of an era for me and those songs were written about saying goodbye to that time of my life,” Krahula explains, adding, “We are all still good friends, and they are all featured on Last Goodbye 11.”  

Krahula’s only appearance on 11 occurs on “Life Just Stops”; the poignant version contributed by Last Goodbye producer (and Fire Flies bandmate) Dan Romer features a string section including Krahula on upright bass. While he did record remotely, he played music Romer sent instead of creating his own.

Wil Farr, a member of Fire Flies and the Nightmare River Band, took on “Goodbye to Your Friends,” creating a richly layered arrangement that taps into that sense of lingering melancholy.

Seth Ondracek and Kenny Shaw play bass and drums, respectively, on two of three tracks recorded at Ondracek’s New York studio by contributors without their own studios: Eden James (“Robots”), Jessica Rose (“Home”) and Bird Streets (“Walk On”). The latter’s John Brodeur strips away the punk overdrive for a quieter take, making the song’s irresistible hook, charming verses, chunky guitars and groove stand out even more. “Robots” goes the opposite way, getting more of a rock edge. The new “Home” replaces banjo with keyboards and emphasizes Rose’s gorgeous vocals and acoustic guitar.

The demo version of Last Goodbye’s “Mary,” a fan favorite, earned an Independent Music Award nomination; on Last Goodbye 11, the Quiet Hollers’ Shadwick Wilde slows down its galloping gait a bit, but gives it even more twang and keeps its terrific harmonies.  

The short introduction on Last Goodbye has been expanded into “Overture,” a beautiful piano interlude by the Chillest (Jason Wexler). Like each song on the Last Goodbye 11, it captures the heart of the original, yet takes it somewhere new.

“I listed myself as a producer on this album, but each artist self-produced their song. My role as a producer more or less ended at trying to pair the correct song with the correct artist,” Krahula says. “I bounced ideas around with a few of the artists but for the most part, they just sent me their recordings. I listened to them in my studio with a huge smile on my face, amazed at what talented friends I have.”


1. Last Goodbye – Bunny Day & The Mercy Buckets, Louisville, Ky.
Produced and performed by Lacey Guthrie & Amy Lee
Engineered by Nick Roeder

Walk On – Bird Streets, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Produced and performed by John Brodeur
Engineered by Seth Ondracek and John Brodeur

Oh Me Oh My – Panama Wedding, New York, N.Y.
Produced, performed and engineered by Peter Kirk

Josie – Johnny Helm & Jenny Yim, Honolulu, Hawaii
Produced and engineered by Johnny Helm

Life Just Stops – Dan Romer, Los Angeles, Calif.
Produced, performed and engineered by Dan Romer
String section: Matt Krahula, upright bass; Tara Atkinson, cello; Jonathan Dinklage, violin, viola

Overture – The Chillest, Staten Island, N.Y.
Composed, performed and engineered by Jason Wexler

Mary – Quiet Hollers, Louisville, Ky.
Produced, performed and engineered by Shadwick Wilde

Goodbye to Your Friends – Hurrah! A Bolt of Light!, Minneapolis, Minn.
Produced, performed and engineered by Wil Farr

Robots – Eden James, Australia & Austin, Texas
Produced by Eden James; engineered by Seth Ondracek
Performed by: Eden James, vocals; Paul Maddison, guitars; Seth Ondracek, bass; Kenny Shaw, drums

Home – Jessica Rose, Nashville, Tenn.
Produced by Jessica Rose; engineered by Seth Ondracek
Performed by: Jessica Rose, vocals, guitar; Seth Ondracek, bass; Kenny Shaw, drums; Matthew Watanabe, keyboards

Why Don’t You Love Me? – Stolar, Los Angeles, Calif.
Produced, performed and engineered by Jay Stolar

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