Thursday, September 22, 2016

Cool Ghouls! Animal Races!

There's a nice little array of bands touched by the hands of Mikey Young and lurking around the greater Melbourne circle that birthed Total Control; there's Terry, of course, featuring members that aren't Mikey Young. He's mastered albums for Wireheads, UV Race and-- oh, hell, Impose already got around to this a few years ago. But he also made his way to California's bay area and played with Kelley Stoltz for a bit, and now he and Stoltz are respectively recording and mastering records together, which they did for Useless Eaters earlier this year and which they did more recently for Cool Ghouls.

The albums they're working on would've fit beautifully into the lo-fi-garage-slash-surf rock movement we seemed to have a decade ago (which might've started around the time everyone caught onto Black Lips and won't stop, thanks to the Burger/Castle Face revival-revival still taking place in California). San Francisco's Cool Ghouls are already several years deep into this never-ending rock 'n roll period, though they're not patient enough to be called fully psychedelic; they're too alt-country to be called punk; they're not innovative enough to lead any sort of movement. They're neither wacky nor annoyingly sincere, and they don't sound to be reaching toward any source of inspiration in particular. This odd little no man's space, the vague idea of a 2010s band inspired by a few 1990s bands inspired by a few 1960s bands, is where they fit. Which, as it happens, is where Kelley Stoltz also fits, and where Mikey Young occasionally finds room to sit.

There's the moderately paced almost-freakout, then there's the sad pop, which they of course label as such and which of course features pedal steel. The track that could've been written by Greg Ashley. And then there's the song whose riff falls somewhere between the Gin Blossoms' "Until I Fall Away" and George Harrison's "What is Life." It sort of lacks aim, but the harmonies are nice enough, and Animal Races is ultimately an enjoyable album, the kind of reliable comfort you turn to when you'd like to put on a record and dance for your cat on a Saturday afternoon, nothing more.

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