Two words alternately describe this album, brilliance and blah. The
album follows along the same lines as The Shins and possibly
a less raw The Decemberists, yet just doesn't have enough of
a good thing to keep me interested. There are 4 or 5 tracks on the
album which are very good, and in fact absolutely brilliant, but it
seems like all the talent was squeezed out in concentrated form and
the rest is filler.
Ghost Stories is the creation of Ron Lewis, who has
associated himself with the likes of The Fruit Bats, The
Joggers, and Colin Meloy in times past. Ron actually recorded
each track in his own home on 8-track recording equipment, as well
as produced and mixed the entire album. It seems that the lo-fi image
that was intended for the album was propagated by a substandard mixing
job. The vocals were difficult to discern over the overpowering instruments
at times which may or may not have been the intention, but it bothered
The tracks I enjoyed all tended to be at the beginning of the album.
"Catacombs" reminded me of The Decemberists with its raw
feel, lush melodies, and innovative supporting harmonies. My absolute
favorite track, however, is "The Upper Ten/The Lower Five".
This track has such flippin' sweet chord progressions that when combined
with the vocals, became similar to early They Might Be Giants
(one of my favorite bands
). "You Wear It Like a Stained
Glass Window" begins with a piercing guitar hovering on a single
note which eventually gives way to a smooth, soft melody with airy
vocals. "The Motions" seems like it could be the melding
of The Postal Service and Zero 7 with its smooth rising
and falling melodies. The tracks towards the end are a different story.
They become much stranger and less listener friendly, which may show
musical growth over a period of time since the album is more of a
compilation of works over a period of 7 years. That being said, it
is my opinion that the album would have been better off with less
of a time span.
I am really torn on this album, although I can say that even though
every track on the album isn't an instant classic, the songs that
are good are absolutely brilliant. Definitely worth a listen, and
that's the final word!
2. The Upper Ten/The Lower Five
3. You Wear It Like a Stained Glass Window
4. The Motions
5. Secret Life of the Union Part II
6. The Black Hand
7. The Nettles In Your Mouth
8. Isn't It Appropriate That Way
9. Secret Life of the Union Part I
10. The Pink Princess Eskimonia
11. Even A Vampire Wouldn't Drink My Blood
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