Reviews for [RL40]
The Only Ghost In Town "The Summer Was Over Before It Began"
This cassette from The Only Ghost in Town was originally something that I decided to throw in on a whim when making a purchase for the Dude Japan Simple Living CD-R that recently came out on Rok Lok. Label owner Mike Andriani wrote a bunch of glowing things about it on the Rok Lok site, which is not surprising since it is his label releasing it and all, but it was certainly passionate enough to get me to throw it in for five bucks. Why not ya know? Anyway, it probably didn’t hurt that Only Ghost in Town main man Dan Saraceni (By Surprise) has a rather high appreciation for early/mid 90’s lo-fi rockers Further…enough that one of the songs on this cassette is in fact a Further cover. A great band to draw influence from and one that is highly recognizable here on The Summer Was Over Before it Began. The entire thing sort of dances back and forth between solidly crafted lo-fi pop to fairly fuzzed out shoegaze, however all keeping a sort of awkward warbling that gives it a bit of a special charm in the end. It’s certainly a nice and welcome sound to these ears for something that was picked up on a flier.
Anyone interested in picking this up can do so by heading over to Rok Lok. Definitely worth the five dollars PPD, so give it a shot if you enjoy what you hear.
I forget exactly how I got an mp3 copy of The Only Ghost In Town's "Like Candy"-- maybe from a post on Built on a Weak Spot, maybe from poking around on the Rok Lok website looking for info on the Weed Hounds split-- but anyway, I downloaded it to my computer back in July, maybe played it once, and then forgot all about it. Then a few weeks ago I listened to it again, just on a whim, only this time it got stuck in my head long enough to make me realize what an awesome friggin' song it is. There's a definite Summer Hits/Boyracer-type quality to the ghost-like vocals and drawn-out feedback throughout the song, and in fact, if you go back a couple of posts, it was listening to this tape that made me pull out the Four Letter Words compilation again. Most of the songs on the tape are rapid-fire (almost half of them aren't even two minutes long), and though The Only Ghost In Town seems firmly rooted in home-made '90s indie pop, this is way more rock than twee; sorta like Blanket/Sno*Boy or Incredible Force of Junior, if those names mean anything to you. Only 100 of these tapes were made, but I just bought mine a little more than two weeks ago, so there's definitely one left over for you. Pick up the Wax Phantom demo while you're there (roklokrecords.com), or buy it from somebody at least, it's pretty great.
The Summer Was Over Before it Began is the first release from The Only Ghost in Town, the nom de plume for bespectacled New Jersey native Dan Saraceni (also of buzz-worthy indie band By Surprise, recently signed to Topshelf Records). The Summer Was Over is Saraceni’s ode to obscure lo-fi pop; his eyes only looking up from shoegazing to seek out the first Castor CD on Discogs. The album, originally released on cassette by Long Island’s Rok Lok records, has been self-released on CD-R with 3 additional songs, expanding on TOGIT’s drone-and-moan fuzzed out blend of whirring guitar distortion and faded vocals.
The album begins with “Aware”, which begins with 5 seconds of twinkling guitar atop reverby vocals (“And I wonder where the summer goes”) before urgently plunging into strident guitar chops. On just listening to the first track a few things become readily apparent. One, Saraceni has listened to quite a bit of Further in his time (it’s no secret, there’s a Further cover a few songs into the album). Two, the lo-fi production fits the music like a youth-large My Bloody Valentine T-Shirt. Three, despite the vocals being buried and sometimes indiscernible, the songwriting is oddly catchy and I find myself mumbling along in the car and humming the melodies at my desk at work.
The album is impressive even when it breaks down the wall of sound, tones down the distortion, and turns up the vocals. “Too Much” excises the tinny drums in favor of confessional Secret Stars-eque vocals where Saraceni asks “Is it so wrong to miss you when you’re gone? I think I’ve said too much now, you probably think I’m nuts.” “Too Much” is one of the longer songs on The Summer Was Over, clocking in at 3:11 (I’m sure Dan would appreciate a “Come Original” joke here), yet it doesn’t betray the short emotive bursts of the 1-2 minute tracks that drive the album.
In terms of the three additional songs, “Snowglobe” is a noisy trek through the halls of unrequited love, “Candid Summer” is an upbeat instrumental track that eases some of the sonic tension that binds the album, and lastly “I Know” offers a perfect closing track that brings the The Summer Was Over Before it Began full circle, exuding big guitar riffs, ebb and flow vocals that crest melodically during the chorus, and enough lo-fi distortion to make a young J Mascis jealous.
There are a few copies of The Summer Was Over Before it Began on cassette left at Rok Lok, they are only $5 and close to selling out. The CD-R is available in the same place for $4. You can also stream the album on Bandcamp.
- Depression Chamber
I think that The Only Ghost in Town might not need a super long introduction. The cassingle tape that came out a month or so ago was incredibly awesome candy-coated sour pop punk. Dan Sarecini has somehow constructed this weird little beast of an indie project that spans the best of guitar based music from the past 20 - 30 years. This is Rok Lok’s 2nd tape edition, home dubbed.
The cassingle was a big way of saying fuck you to having structure or straight thinking, and if I knew that this tape was going to be the same way then I woulda prepared more. The songs are very pop oriented, very sugary and even sweet, sugar rush-like, but they have this kind of self-destructive hung over bent to them. There are even some purposefully weird warps on the tape, but they add to the kind of fucked up yet calm nature that vibrates on the entirety of the tape. I want to say that this is a return to how I imagine the world was like before the internet. Not that this is good or bad, but it’s kind of funny and definitely awesome to kind of feel connected to a sound that pre-dates everything I know.
The two sides don’t contrast one another. There is not a better side, but this isn’t me bashing on the tape and the album. It’s just rather cool to hear a very well balanced pop tape. There are no clear singles, or filler sounding tracks. There are just heavy/light jams to listen to. Each song is ridiculously short in the same way that the songs on the A side of the cassingle were short. I feel more of an Eric’s Trip vibe with these ones though, for some reason. Although I think the cassingle songs had lo-fi more down to a T, this one kind of sounds a bit more polished. What does polished even mean for this kind of scratchy music though? I suppose nothing. The guitars seem like they’re going to fall for most of the songs, the scratchy and jangly parts mixed with pounding drums is a perfect pop staple. This is another one of those tapes that you can’t help but feel compelled to sing a long to, especially when there are some shoegazy portions on the tape that are pretty high octane.
I don’t think I feel comfortable calling the tracks out singularly. As I have kind of listened to the tape as only an A side and B side, for the most part. Kind of why I feel like the tape has an almost perfect (or whatever) balance to it. I would like to be a little negative, but there aren’t any flaws I can hear. I believe some would mention that the tape sounds a bit like “everything else” producing this kind of music, or that the influences are worn too proudly, but I love that older stuff, I love the modern stuff, why wouldn’t I love this? Wimpy bedroom rock for the wimpiest of wimps.