Living Room Music
Not Gonna Get It
Ghostbeat is a duo from Florida consisting of vocalist/singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Bryan Tilford and percussionist/singer Ken Green. On their Web site, they admit “we drop names” — they’re a little obsessive about their influences: Joe Jackson, King Crimson, The Beatles, Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, Brian Eno, Steely Dan, Talking Heads, Adrian Belew, They Might Be Giants, Robyn Hitchcock, and, above all, those lovable Swindonians XTC. And man oh man, do these two CDs sound like a mix of all those musical acts; it’s like someone took all the smart white pop people ever and popped ’em in the blender.
Not Gonna Get It is the “full band” album, which means it has bass guitar on it; these are ten adorable songs that whip by in almost a half-hour. These range from the country-fried semi-talkin’-blues of “Tired Asleep or Cryin'” to the pure pop of “Adventure Girl” — “Blowing up was never this much fun/You turned me on before you turned me in” is just a classic damned way to start an album. Sure, these songs just sound a whole lot like the sum of their influences, which can get annoying at times (“Mim’s Basement” should occasion a call from Andy Partridge’s lawyer). But it’s crunchy, it’s power-chordy, it’s cute as all hell, it’s the funnest thing released in many a year.
But if you want the real picture of Ghostbeat, try Living Room Music, which is 65 minutes of just Brian and Ken playing acoustically. (These songs have already been released as most of a cassette, but that was years ago, so treat it like it’s a new album, okay?) They might not have the punch of the Not Gonna Get It songs (“Bug in My Car” hits harder and sounds better in its electric version), but this is the kernel of the band: Bryan and Ken wailin’ away. And it’s more emotionally intimate to hear them this way, too — the deep stuff, like “Balance,” seems deeper this way, and the ridiculous stuff, like “Backwards School,” doesn’t seem quite as ridiculous. Plus, it’s more than twice as long, which means more than twice as good.
The biggest problem with Ghostbeat is that they just don’t have enough stuff out there for the philistine public to ignore. Can someone give these guys a genius grant or something so they can quit their day jobs and do some more of this great shit?