Ghost Color – American Book of the Dead

At Archaic Triad we tend to focus on extreme music. While we don’t cover the whole spectrum of young and old men screaming over various types of distorted noise, we come pretty damn close. But what about regular musicians? You know, people who write songs, know how to sing and aren’t obvious parts of some scene based around devil worship, sexual fetishism or odd politics? While you wouldn’t always know it from reading AT, there are quite a few such bands out there, and not all of them are signed to Sony. Ghost Color’s soon-to-be-self-published second EP is no light-weight album, but it is refreshingly free from scenster bullshit (we do love our scenster bullshit, make no mistake, but we’re still refreshed by its absence at times).

American Book of the Dead is fundamentally a rock record, with just the right amount of weird to keep it interesting. While well-played, there is no excess of instrumental masturbation. Rather, substantial fuzzy riffs with a tinge of melancholy, some great and at times outright freaky bass lines and some excellent vocals with a slightly desperate touch come together to create a solid, and I do mean solid, listening experience. Shoegaze, post-punk, post-rock and post-whatever are all words that could be used to describe what this is, but as suggested above, this isn’t primarily about genre. Rather, it’s about a very specific band doing something very specific with their instruments, and making it work.

In the event you’ve heard the band’s previous, self-titled, EP you already know what to expect. If you enjoyed tracks like “Weaponization of a Star” or “Stay Asleep”, you’ll feel right at home with American Book of the Dead. That being said, this is superior to the band’s previous effort in a number of ways. First of all, the production is much better. Not necessarily in the sense that it is that much more “professional” – there is a suitably indie feel to the proceedings, guitar distortion included – but the vocals, and especially those sweet bass lines, have a much better sound on this one. We’re talking the same underlying musical themes and ideas, but improved in just about every imaginable way. It’s heavier, it’s sadder and it’s happier. And pretty damn great.

Ghost Color know how to do what they want to do, they may or may not feature a close relative of Barney Stinson, and they can make you feel things just by playing some music. The EP drops on May 30th, and to get a hold of a download you should probably keep an eye out on the band’s Facebook page and Bandcamp.

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