Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Roadkill Ghost Choir Sings In Tongues

Roadkill Ghost ChoirSpringing up from the heart of Central Florida is an American rock band looking to break out of the desolation with its Southern-informed heartland rock vibe. And as a follow up to its debut EP Quiet Light last year, Roadkill Ghost Choir mostly does it with their road-weary full length, In Tongues.

Led by singer/songwriter Andrew Shepard, Roadkill Ghost Choir paints the allegorical American landscape with drifters, specters and violent saints. Helping to sell the imagery is the ghostly steel pedal guitar work of Kiffy Myer along with Stephen Garza (guitar), and brothers Maxx (drums) and Zach (bass) Shepard.

In Tongues is an American rock and roll shakeup. 

In Tongues is a wind blown rocker capable of soothing lonely souls on open flatlands and tireless road trips where the next big city seems to sit somewhere on the horizon or just over it. The album opens with Slow Knife, which is a cautionary tale about betrayal and self-retribution.

"I sat in a bathtub full of black liquid for 5 hours so you can enjoy this 4-minute video," mused Shepard about the video directed by Justin Hayward. "I do these things because I care about you."

Where Slow Knife works is in sharing some of the brewery-swagger magic that creates something passionate from out on the roadside. There is a certain semblance of indie-folk freedom, starting with Slow Knife but then carrying over on the haunting mire of music that underscores of the second track Hwy.

Skip Down & Out not because it's weak but because the percussion-led quick-step doesn't carry the same dynamic as the other material. It's the only track better left off the initial listen. Dead Friend isn't nearly as ambitious as the album overall. And See You Soon becomes tiresome too quick.

It's better to stick to the tracks that convince you that  Roadkill Ghost Choir has it all figured out. No Enemy is one such number despite its light rock radio-friendly feel. Better are tracks like the six-minute moody rocker A Blow To The Head and the hum-worthy folk rocker I Could See Everything.

Although getting less attention than the top tracks, both Womb and Lazarus, You've Been Dreaming captures the richness of their composition. They make songs that can play big beer-swilling festivals or find comfort in cozy intimate barrooms with a half-dozen patrons. This might even be why there is always a buzz about Tom Petty when Roadkill Ghost Choir is around. Sure, the influence is present but Shepard is safer singing much rougher and less polished rockers that fit his much grittier voice.

Who knows? Give Roadkill Ghost Choir a few more years and they might find that kind of distinction in being able to refine their lyrical craftsmanship and perfectly contained musical compositions. Right now, it's still too hard to know beyond the obvious that they have something here that works for rootsier rock venues and festivals, including the occasional foray into psychedelic rock.

Roadkill Ghost Choir Talks In Tongues For 5.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

The quintet from DeLand, Florida, has a ton of promise as an indie rock band with Americana and occasional Southern influences. There isn't any question that the band can shake it up and hold a roomful at attention. The only question that remains is whether they can hold it in bigger venues as they draw more than the warmup. So far, so good. Check out their schedule on Facebook.

In Tongues by Roadkill Ghost Choir is available at Amazon. You can also download the album In Tongues from iTunes. Greatest Hiss Records has also put out the In Tongues album on CD via Barnes & Noble.
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