Ghetto Ghouls – Ghetto Ghouls

written by: March 28, 2014
Album-art-for-Ghetto-Ghouls-by-Ghetto-Ghouls Release Date: April 8, 2014


On their self-titled debut, Ghetto Ghouls manage to sloppily smudge the line between form and content.

Slouching purposefully, Ghetto Ghouls characterizes itself in a manner similar to bands like the mid-2000s Bananas, concerned with documenting an energy and a feeling rather than cultivating an attractive and approachable surface.

The band’s lo-fi brand of garage-punk comes off as such with equal dues paid to the tonal choices of the musicians—scratchy guitars, tinny drums, and micro-filtered vocals—as well as the song structures themselves.

Crafting a fun, fast and loose sound, Ghetto Ghouls pull off an at-ease-ness that coaxes the listener into a space that’s care-free, but not without its jagged edges.

On “Simple C,” the album’s closer, vocalist Corey Anderson slurs his way through the verses as if he’s already a couple of drinks deep and signaling for another.

But he collects himself for a wild roar on the choruses, ruminating on the line, “Simple minds in simple times,” prices he may or may not be willing to pay, and whether he should stay or go. This kind of pulled-apart approach crops up once or twice on the album and makes for a nice break from the fast-paced tempo of Ghetto Ghouls without a shift in volume or style.

More often, the vocal performance rides on one or two lyrics ratcheting up or downshifting between varying degrees of unintelligible—but infectious and animalistic—growling. This approach feels like a better match for the unkempt instrumentation.

On “Living Alone,” the orations ramble simply between upset and surly iterations of, “I’m living alone/and nobody’s home/I don’t know what to do/I don’t know what to do.” Straightforward, but, really, what else needs to be said? This same template is applied to “It’s So Cold,” a simple notion to be sure, but one that rings true nonetheless.

Some of the progressions, while overall pretty listenable, can come off as similar, songs blending into each other with little variation. This sometimes leaves Ghetto Ghouls resting on the border of uninteresting.

The flip side of this criticism is that Ghetto Ghouls build a mostly consistent, frenzied approach that allows the band to back up the rawness of its sound. Where musicians—even of the maddeningly lo-fi variety—will oftentimes avoid peaking or maxing out volume in the interest of preserving a degree of sound quality, Ghetto Ghouls smash this norm and own it, folding it into the sharp, spiky mix that is their sound.

Elements of Ghetto Ghouls’ debut full-length are a bit run-of-the-mill. The band’s energy carries through the record, and while there’s a sense of similarity or repetition for certain stretches of it, a 23-minute album doesn’t leave too much room for the listener to become tired.

The band keeps the outing light-hearted and bouncy, allowing for an easy listen that still manages some inspired segments. It would be wrong to see this band live anywhere but a crowded, sweaty basement. If you happen to be spinning Ghetto Ghouls and suddenly become concerned that your speakers are blown, don’t worry—it’s just the band.

Ghetto Ghouls – Ghetto Ghouls tracklist:

  1. “Peepshow”
  2. “Gimme a Gun”
  3. “My Hands”
  4. “Psycho”
  5. “Atomic Bomb”
  6. “Living Alone”
  7. “It’s So Cold”
  8. “SGO”
  9. “Roofshit”
  10. “Pigs”
  11. “Yellowskies”
  12. “Simple C”