Review: The Ghost Cars’ Amnesia Corners EPPosted: November 14, 2010
Is it a good thing when bands wear their influences on their sleeve? Does it impede on your ability to perceive them as a listener and possible fan? I would think that this would be the philisophical equivalent of a magician showing you how he does his tricks. We, as the audience, are absolutely entranced by his sleight of hand and from the second the curtains open to the second they close, we are his. The same can be said of people if they truly pay attention to a good song. Once we give way to our intrigue, we are lost in a world of art and magic and won’t find our way out until the story we’re living is over. Men and women, young and old–for those few, infinite minutes–become children at the foot of their grandfather listening to a tale they wish they could live. However, the second we realize how these stories are created; once we can make out the smoke and mirrors, do the kingdoms of our dream world fall asunder? Do we still marvel in empathetic agony at the poor woman who is sawed in half?
I like to think that we do.
The Ghost Cars are a fairly new/not really band from my neck of the woods. They sent over their EP some time ago and I haven’t been able to review it due to school and Fun Fun Fun Fest. Now that I have some time available, how about we get started?
This band has been around for maybe three years or so but has only existed in it’s current incarnation for not much longer than a year, I think. I remember listening to an early demo of theirs and thinking that they were pretty decent but were just running in experimental rock circles. They’ve since evolved into a more mature project that finally has a sense of direction. Their debut EP, Amnesia Corners, plays like well-balanced punch in the face, if you will. It contains four abrasive compositions mixing elements of post-hardcore and the more adrenaline-pumping parts of rock and roll. Their music brings back memories of bands like At The Drive-In, Tera Melos, Refused, even some Radiohead. The EP’s opener, “The Long Halloween”, is a fittingly aggressive track with one of the more appealing bridge solo riffs I’ve heard come out of the Rio Grande Valley’s blossoming music scene. The brief moments where it shines in between dark blasts from the band are some of my favorite moments on this EP. However, Amnesia Corners contains one absolutely crippling Achilles’ heel: the clean vocals. While vocalist Mandais’s screams fit perfectly with the aesthetic created by this EP, his clean vocals douse the mighty flames of the band’s otherwise intense music. About three and a half minutes into “Special K”, there is a more or less decent guitar solo playing behind his bland vocals when it would seem more fitting for the solo to stand alone to accent the atmosphere. The beginning to “Wild Card” is exciting; the kind of music you would play during a car chase in a horror film. But that dark and frightening vibe is easily tamed by Mandais’s almost annoying vocals. Maybe it’s the mix. Let’s not be too critical, here. Or maybe, forgive me, the vocals were mixed lower than the music for a reason? Maybe? I wouldn’t know. The same goes for “Scorpion Sting Dream”. It’s a sharp track turned blunt by the less-than-flattering wailing you have to hear over the music. These moments in the EP remind me a lot of standing next to an active conversation during a really good set at a good rock show. I don’t know about you, but that is one of my biggest pet peeves.
Overall, this EP is a decent effort for the band to start their career with. It’s not something I would listen to very often–maybe a couple of years ago, but it is definitely the product of a band that knows exactly what they want to do with their sound and is doing their best to achieve it. For that, I commend them. But ugh, those damn vocals.