Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Vancouver's Dead Ghosts Can't Get No

Dead Ghosts
The sophomore full-length from Vancouver's lo-fi revival band Dead Ghosts plays out exactly like you might expect. The four-piece garage rockers lock down a dozen surf-tested, country-tinged rock tracks that overdose on distortion and aim for tonal color over highlighting instrumental and vocal talent.

Bryan Nicol (guitar, vocals), Drew Wilkinson (guitar), Maurizio "Moe" Chiumento (bass) and Mike Wilkinson (drums), clearly want everyone to feel something while listening to Can't Get No, an album that monetarily transports listeners head-over-feet into someplace dark, dank and sweaty.

Have a drink. Flail about. As long as you're having fun, it doesn't much matter.

Can't Get No is a flashback sampler romp that Dead Ghosts mostly pull off.

Mostly is the operative qualifier because sometimes too much of a good thing is too much. But you have to appreciate the band's resolve to make it all work.

They funded a Tascam 388 8-track and recorded the entire album in bars, kitchens and basements. So what you hear isn't the work of overzealous studio engineers as much as a carpetbag collection of jangly echoes from the 1960s.

Sometimes those echoes come in loud if not clear. That Old Feeling is an escapist song that gets under the skin. The track is bleak but also serves up a simple reminder. When life gets to be too much, you can always cut and run.

That Old Feeling is a bit cleaner than Can't Get No, a rockabilly album opener about a long distance romance and bust up, and the indecision in it all. Even as the protagonist heads south (presumably San Francisco), he already knows he's only going to look like a fool.

Cold Stare follows this familiar theme too. It's about being fried and missing someone who is impossibly far away, right down the hall.

That song, along with I Want You Back, ought to provide some additional insight into the band. Dead Ghosts love to mine the 50s and 60s for hooks and melodies they like and then make their own. It's more apparent on some tracks than others. I Want You Back owes everything to The Guess Who.

In other cases, Dead Ghosts simply wear their influences on their sleeves. Roky Said is meant to be a tribute to Roky Erickson with just the right touch of psychedelia. The track, which emulates as much as it pays homage to the legendary songwriter, also clinches why the band is sincere in their songwriting.

There doesn't seem to be any question that they love the 1960s indie rock scene. There is more than one track that will win you over with their infatuation. Songs like On Your Own, I Sleep Alone and Hangin do the impossible job of bridging the 50-year space between two generations. As much as things have changed, the heart breaks and bouts with bleakness remain the same.

Can't Get No By Dead Ghosts Wisps In At 5.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

While Dead Ghosts isn't the most original band and are often overwhelmed by their own reverb, there is something steadily poignant about them. They make music with one foot in the 60s and another right here, right now. Start with That Old Feeling, Roky Said, Tea Swamp Rumble, and I Sleep Alone.

You can find Can't Get No by Dead Ghosts. For $1 more, you can download it from iTunes. The band is currently lining up an after-summer tour in Europe, one venue at a time. You can check out the dates on Facebook or catch them live in Vancouver on August 10.
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