By Stephen Dunegan
When I saw the opportunity to review the new EP from Dirty Ghosts I jumped at it. I became a fan of them in 2011 by way of front woman, Allyson Baker’s ex husband and my favorite lyricist-MC AesopROCK. I continued to be a fan of this band even after the dissolving of their matrimony. The Toronto-native continues her lineage of gritty new wave punk rock with this new EP which is to pave the way for their new full-length album Let It Pretend, due out this fall on Last Gang Records.
Not unlike her 2011 EP Shout It In and 2012’s full-length release Metal Moon, this EP carries the mature angst that the previous releases have done well with establishing. I can’t help but feel inclined to wear a leather jacket with patches on it when I listen to Dirty Ghosts as they do a great job of capturing the very essence of punk rock and encapsulating into a electro-indie shell so that we can blare ‘sans the glares’.
The Cataract EP starts off with the lead single “Cataract” and, if you are familiar, brings you back to why you love this band. The way this band captivates is really intriguing and I haven’t figured out how they do it. Whether it’s my longing for the gritty nature of music or merely the various nuances mixed in that satisfies me on various ‘music-thirst’ levels. The pulsing drums of “Cataract” swiftly grabs the listener’s ears then Baker swoops in with a Joan Jett type essence where she is without a doubt a powerful frontwoman.
The second song “Witch Hunt” is reminiscent of Killers meet Flock of Seagulls which may sound like a cluster-cuss of nonsense but it’s so fluid you quickly forget about the said comparison. I love the lyrics “you drive a fast car slow” which just empowers not only the band but the listener to play by a set of different rules. To go against the grain of what’s given; which works in the band's favor because Dirty Ghosts are crazy unique and off the beaten path of what you may be familiar with.
“Quicksand castles sink down slow // I hope you know the way out because I don’t” is the witty and precise chorus for the third song aptly named “Quicksand Castle”. The way she bellows the chorus makes you feel as if you are transported to the late 90’s/early 2000’s and listening to Kung Fu Records juggernauts Tsunami Bomb; which is quite alright for me because I loved them. There is no need to over-glamorize music; no need to doll it up and present it in a way which is only attainable in big venues and Friday night clubs.
Next is a brilliant remix by TOBACCO (of which I’m a huge fan) of their single “Cataract” in which the whole mood of the song changes and the ominous synths take the song to a deeper catacomb. The remix doesn’t lose the original’s street punk feel but gives it, surprisingly, more credibility.
The last song on this EP is Mikey Young’s Remix to “Ropes That Way” which was the single of their last full-length Metal Moon. I can’t say that I like it more than the original, because the original song captures some beautiful angst that I feel a remix just can’t capture. I’m not against this remix; just can’t be categorized as an advocate either.
In my time in Portland I did a lot of exploring and seeking the dopest spots. Whether it was coffee, pastries, burgers or beers, I was seeking what the locals thought were the prime spots and most of these spots looked dirty, unpresentable and simple. Regardless, the quality that existed in these spots quickly seeped through the walls via “word of mouth” and those identical feelings I have for those spots I share for Dirty Ghosts. It’s now up to you to find out why.