Self released on 17 March 2017
Midstate Massachusetts band Ghost Guest‘s debut full length is an unpolished do-it-yourself gem that places the bar pretty high for future releases. Though let us not get ahead of ourselves just yet.
This punk-folk/folk-rock collective of six come together with a dual vocalist fronted line-up backed by strings, skins and synths. Ghost Guest has released demo recordings and EPs from all the way back to 2014, so its members have had some time to hone their sound before committing to a full length record. Three words: worth the wait.
Rightly self titled, the record lends itself as a grand invitation for existing fans and a well meaning greeting to new listeners. The sound is a hard-hitting, long lasting one that resonates the DIY approaches to the punk rock recordings of the seventies (though recorded in Princeton’s Wachusett Recording studios).
Use of Manchester, MA, poet William James’ piece ‘Surely I Will Stay Awake’ to bookend the beginning and the end (in song and then in spoken word) of this record are great touches. Prose from the punk poet are quickly followed with screaming vocals, driving beats, call and response sections, and electronica undertones, which are all tied together with the strings of the guitar amazingly well.
James’ poetry isn’t the only beautifully crafted trace of lyricism on this record. All songs included offer a shaking power in the words the vocalists convey to those listening. ‘Knuckles’, a stand-out single by way of its vocal hooks and siren sounds looming in the background bring short bursts of beauty to the fastly followed cry of angst;
‘Just like the leaves in Autumn- I am burning from the outside in- I am, I am, I am.
you are the humming in my head- you are the static in the gaps- I am, I am, I am’.
Little moments of pleasure on the journey this record takes you on are a constant happening. The ache and complication of a break up in ‘Love in the Time of Police Brutality’ (not written by García Márquez) reads like a heartbreaking scene from a sparsely descriptive novel. It’s closely followed by ‘Phone Call’, which is merely a recorded one way telephone call discussing Albuquerque and the scary looking billboards found there, featuring genuine laughter with some acoustic noodling played on top.
On the remaining stretch of the album, the songs start to beat heavy and drive you to the end as best it can. ‘Lockjaw’ and ‘Hardwood Floors’, hit you with everything the band has got melodically and keeps you hooked respectively with the torn imagery of their words;
‘I’ve got a scar across my cheek / dividing lockjaw and lack of sleep
I’m spitting blood between my teeth / with all the fire I will speak’.
‘I’m still wiping / the grit from my eyes
from the room full of smoke / you left me in last night’.
Finishing the record with the previously mentioned bookend donated by William James, wraps everything up into a great grit listen.
Laced with melodies looping gracefully through each other, lyrics that stand alone as moving prose, and guitars that rip through all of the above with ease and distortion, this is a great first album. The self titled offering can be purchased through the band’s Bandcamp page using the name your price option. Though I would personally opt for getting your hands on the hard copy, with a handwritten lyric book insert and artwork by members of the band, for a mere $10.
And what’s that, like, a cup of coffee of something these days? Worth it.
Artist: Ghost Guest
Label: Self release
Do it yourself folk-punk used as the driving force for gritty prose and questions of the self; Ghost Guest’s first full length offering takes the ache felt in the day-to-day and turns it into melodies in distortion.