Local Music Reviews
Casio Ghost = Allah-Las + The Growlers
A prominent member of the local indie scene, Casio Ghost shines among its local psych-rock siblings such as Musor, The Mellons and The Plastic Cherries. The band’s debut album Postmodern Blues is all the vocal reverb and twangy guitar of modern surf rock combined with the lo-fi vocal distortion and barely intelligible lyrics of Julian Casablancas. At times, the album feels like it’s building up to something that it never quite reaches, but the journey is still a joyful jaunt through a ‘70s soundscape.
The first track “Bullet” hits straight to the heart and promises a wild ride. From the very first guitar riff, it’s impossible to stay still while listening. Unlike the majority of the songs, the keyboard takes center stage, backed up by plenty of oohs and ba-ba-bas that would make Brian Wilson proud. The tempo builds and the rhythm drives you to movement, never stopping to catch its breath, like the soundtrack for a group of surf bums running from the police.
The high-speed foot race turns into a mellow jog with “Everything That’s Hurt You” and “Five Years.” Think less jazzy surfer and more sad cowboy who just moved to a big city and tried mushrooms for the first time. “A lucid world, more beautiful and far more bleak / Time scrolls on by, no vice, no virtue,” sings lead vocalist Tanner Waite. The album’s existential lyrics don’t exactly break any new ground but they express universal anxieties. Casio Ghost has a carefree attitude when it comes to the centuries-old “nothing matters” logic: “I could watch the stars as they all come crashing / It’s a cosmic joke but it’s got you laughing.”
Postmodern Blues loses some momentum in the middle as it falls into slightly more predictable indie melodies and lyrical cliches—I would have loved to hear more experimentation and punk influences à la Amyl and The Sniffers or quirky sound effects and syncopated jazz beats in the vein of Messer Chups. Fortunately, “The Stranger” and “New Sincerity” both contain some of the album’s best guitar solos, and the funky final track “Devil in the Details” is enough to bring back the garage rock spirit—and just in time. The reverb vocals start to feel old, but those electric riffs never stop being catchy as hell.
The album is at its best when the music speaks for itself; when the driving rhythms propel you into their psychedelic world like a tidal wave. Casio Ghost is the kind of band that would keep on playing during the apocalypse, like a groovy bass line thumping from a deserted dive bar. –Asha Pruitt