Thursday, 29 September 2011

In Retrospect... The Ghost Of A Thousand

All too often, I have cause to remember an album I really enjoyed by a fledgling British band at the start of their career, only to find upon updating myself with their current whereabouts that they've split. Usually only a month or two prior to my resurgent interest. 

Step forward The Ghost Of A Thousand, whom I add to the list of Dub War, Pulkas, Aereogramme, earthtone9 (at least they returned), and so many others before them.


Let's keep it short and sweet: The Ghost Of A Thousand were, briefly, one of the most promising punk/rock/hardcore groups in Britain.

Their 2007 debut, 'This Is Where The Fight Begins', was appropriately titled in hindsight, prompting a rapid charge to the forefront of British hardcore. With its razor sharp guitars and feral vocal delivery, it leaps out at you right away. What separated it from its peers - and indeed still does - is how very memorable the songs are and the fact that it sustains the quality throughout a full LP. There are standout tracks as with many of these acts...'Left For Dead' and 'Bored of Math' spring to mind...but TGOAT extended the full force of their songwriting to the entire release.


It's only this year that I've caught up with 2009's 'New Hopes, New Demonstrations', which signals a more rock n roll-tinged direction but yields none of the riotous energy that made them stand out in the first place. It might not be quite the furious hardcore that makes the debut a must-repeat listen for me, but it certainly feels like they were developing into quite the confident and dynamic act. 

Unfortunately, The Ghost Of A Thousand called it quits in March of this year and played their final set at the Hevy Festival last month. The best hope is, as ever when bands we love split, that the members move on to create equally (or more) inspiring music in their next projects. No word on that yet, as far as I can see, but be bloody well sure that I'll be playing closer attention next time around. 

Thursday, 22 September 2011

No Middle Ground: Chuck Ragan Goes Again

Chuck Ragan sounds less burdened these days.

The erstwhile singer of influential latter day punks Hot Water Music, Ragan has a history of dark, tempestuous music. Carrying this troubled spirit through to his early solo outings evidently proved a natural continuation, with songs like 'The Boat' and 'Hearts of Stones' simply bleeding catharsis. Indeed, this is exactly the quality, fuelled by that distinctive, gravel-throated vocal,  that made 2007's 'Feast Or Famine' such a must listen, for me.

On newest album 'Covering Ground', it feels as though the iconic singer is now finding in his music more solace than struggle. From opener 'Nothing Left To Prove' to 'Right As Rain', there are nods throughout to a simple satisfaction and a more accepting world view.

  Chuck Ragan - Nothing Left To Prove

Even with a greater harmony to his songs, Ragan carries a power that few can match with only a voice and acoustic guitar to call upon. In many ways it's actually refreshing to hear him reflecting on life more positively, contrasting vibrantly with the greyer days that apparently came before. Whichever end of the spectrum your tastes tend towards, Chuck's is a vocal that delivers the emotion with intensity and a weight of experience that makes his sentiments all the more vivid.

Chuck Ragan by SideOneDummy

If forced to choose personally, the bleak reflection of his earlier songs probably still carry the day for me. But his canon grows ever larger and, with time, these newer gems may well wrest the darker elements of his sound from my preference. Should you wish to make such a decision based on a live performance, check out the man's tour page to see if the exciting line-up of the Revival Tour (Europe and North America) is rolling through your area any time soon. 

Thursday, 15 September 2011

TuneThursday: To Bury A Ghost

Oh, how the days do fly by....

Here's a track that prompted me to post, however - and, more impressively, wrenched me temporarily from an obsessive exploration of PJ Harvey's back catalog - from spirited, soaring Brit post-rockers To Bury A Ghost

To Bury A Ghost - Dancing With Epileptic (Demo) by TOBURYAGHOST

Positively bursting with dynamic energy, 'Dancing With Epileptic' opens with a celestial reflection that would have made Aereogramme proud, had they lived longer. It moves on through various passages, some swelling with grandiose vocals a la Muse, others focusing on the shimmering guitars, which carry an Explosions In The Sky quality. Crucially, the transitions between the contrasts are applied masterfully, conjuring a majestic and orchestral end product that rages as effectively as it reflects.

All of which comparisons merely serve to underline that this band from the East Midlands are capable of punching well above their early career weight and may well have something special up their sleeves, whenever a full album should see the light of day.

Not only is this particular gem available as a limited time free download, you can also pick up their debut EP, 'The Hurt Kingdom', here on Bandcamp. Whatever musical research bent you're currently undertaking, take 10 minutes out and have a listen to these chaps. Your time will be rewarded. 

Friday, 2 September 2011

The Time Has Come To Be Gone

It's odd how songs come to be lodged in one's cranium.

One minute you're happily recalling a tune that resonated with you not a few listens back, the next it's two weeks later and somehow it has become the sound track to your life. Step forth, Led Zeppelin...

"Got no time to for spreadin' roots, the time has come to be gone.
And though our health we drank a thousand times,
it's time to ramble on."

Granted, having a Zep tune on perennial mental repeat is infinitely preferable to Katy Perry, the Black Eyed Peas, or any number of other saccharine throwaway dross that makes one long for the melodic tones of an NYC fire truck interruption. Still, the element of confusion as to how it became lodged remains, as I'd barely listened to the band for months before. But what a tune, capturing the essence of a wandering mind and perseverance through fatigue. It's also heavily referential to the work of Tolkien, throwing us back to the days when sprawling fantasy was a perfectly reasonable subject to influence music and still expect a multi-platinum record. 

And here's a semi-passable rendition of the song by alt-indie turned pure-poppers Train. The posting of which is most likely a crime befitting of the death penalty, should the classic rock Dad's brigade get wind of it. Lucky, then, that 98.6% of them frequent not the humble indie music blogs.

Enjoy your Labor Day ramblings, folks.