Three Listens #1: Angst Is Fucking Boring (Single) by Ghost Army

Welcome to a new thing I hope to do, I’m gonna call it Three Listens.  Here’s the rules.  I find some new music from some local band, I give their stuff three listens and document my responses to each listen and them summarize it up with a review at the tail end.  Might be a single, an EP, an LP, but I will give it three solid listens.  The philosophy behind listening three times is as to give the music a chance to do it’s thing.  On first listen everything is new, layers may or may not be immediately apparent, some songs may underwhelm while others may seem better than they are.  On a second listen the landscape should be known, the song should feel familiar.  If it doesn’t that means it didn’t really register the first time, which might not be so awesome.  But a second listen let’s you experience the song without the analysis that sometimes happens during the initial listen.  Listen number three is really necessary to form an opinion of the song.  If there is more there, you’ll want a fourth, fifth, infinity listens…  If I don’t want to hear it again after three, it’s probably not working for me.

Why did I pick this particular song to start?  Because it’s the most recent new single release of a local band that has dropped into my lap but it dropped into my lap because, full disclosure, I’m friends with a member of the band.  If this was a disqualifying situation in which I should recuse myself, I would, but that would seriously undermine this little feature because I know a lot of people who are in bands in the Twin Cities area.  

So who is Ghost Army?  Ghost Army (aka “Go Starmie!” for you Misty-loving Pokemon nerds) is a trio with the requisite social media linkage located here (BandcampFacebook).  Membership currently consists of sex machine Gus Watkins (drums, vox), copulation contraption Merritt Benton (bass), and cuddle bot Chad Stanley (guitar, vox).  They’ve been around, serving the local psychedelic math punk TC music needs, since at least spring of 2012 and were last heard in recorded format on a split EP with Blood Cookie back in ’13.  I have just downloaded the first single from the upcoming Sleepywood Dojo album.  It is called “Angst Is Fucking Boring”.  Let’s check it out, shall we?

Listen #1:

Opening guitars have a great tone, really reminding me of this one King Crimson song from the mid-70’s, but that’s clearly not what we’re going for here, stylistically.  The overall thing I’m feeling here so far is that this song has some balls.  Double-tracked vocals, “you are not the archetype or allegory”, cerebral lyrical content paired with aggressive guitars and pounding drums.  This is working for me.  Anthemic middle section.  I feel like I want to pay more attention to the lyrics on second listen.  I just caught a nice little nod to MBV near the end there and we’re tailing off with some interesting guitar noises.  Clocked in at 4:19 but felt shorter, which is good.  First impressions are positive.  Good vibe, not ornate and overly complicated, nothing twee or precious, not crawling up it’s own ass, just coming out and saying something meaningful and using some great guitars and impassioned vocals and solid drumming to do it.  

Listen #2:

Hadn’t noticed the layer of guitar noise going under the opening riff the first listen.  I like that, adds some menace.  Really listening to the lyrics this time.  Serious ambiguity going here.  Alluding to something without spelling it out, could apply to a lot of things and even though I have ideas what that might be I like that it’s not spelled out.  Lyrics should be open to interpretation and reapplication.  Just before the MBV nod at the end there is some sort of talking I can’t make it.  Not lyrics per se but a nice little bit of randomness that feels significant.  Listen #2 set me up for a desire to hear it one more time. Fortunately, I can do that…

Listen #3:

Still haven’t figured out what the opening guitar is triggering in my brain but really I don’t think I care.  I can already tell that this is going to wear very well.  I am envisioning hearing this at a show, beer in hand, singing along, involuntarily moving legs, arms, head, and heart along to the music.  This would translate well live.  I have no doubt of that. Dammit, coming up on the end.  That 4:19 goes by too fast.  It’s like that fucking Excalibur roller coaster at Valleyfair.  A great ride, big drop, twists and turns, speed, sound, fury, and then the lap bar rises and you’re standing up and somewhat shakily exiting the ride with a smile on your face.

So…  Summary…

“Angst Is Fucking Boring” is not boring.  It’s a well-crafted, tightly executed, kick in the ears that has something for your brain, something for your gut, and something for the rest of you.  It bodes extremely well for the rest of the Sleepywood Dojo release and it has accomplished the purpose intended, namely, to excite interest in the band and their upcoming release.

The Pokemon trainer in each and every one of us should be looking forward to that drop.   I’m gonna go ahead and recommend you give it three listens yourself, feel free to cuss and discuss in the comments.

CD Release party deets and dates and tix are here:  http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2532356