Music Reviews

Birddog

Ghost of the Season

Sugar Free

Ghost of the Season is an engaging mix of folk-influenced minimalist rock, strange lyrical turns, and unexpectedly raw drumming. Elements of lo-fi sometimes spring up right in the middle of crisp production. Leader Bill Santeen’s lyrics seem to be influenced by Leonard Cohen. The stories Santeen weaves seem contrived, but they still have the charm of a good folktale. In other cases his lyrics are merely an evocative stream of images that complement the unique sound textures that he and his bandmates create.

This album offers only 10 songs that clock in at just over 3 minutes each, but the band puts a lot into them. The best example of this is “Halloween,” which starts out with some unsettling whistling noises that sound like what might erupt from a haunted tea kettle. Then, urgent acoustic guitar and cello complemented by subtle chimes and Santeen’s weird but effective voice take the song through some intricate changes that climax with some primitive, splashy drums. Birddog sound as if they’ve been playing together for a long time. They are masters of mood and dynamics. Sugar Free Records, P.O. Box 14166, Chicago, IL 60614


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