Thursday, October 8, 2009

Story of the Ghost

The Days Between
Glafiro & Solid Ghost

As I mentioned in a Demo Sweat a few weeks ago, the first thing you have to absorb while listening to Glafiro & Solid Ghost is Ariel's miles-deep electric bass. The Days Between uses lead guitar and piano overdubs sparingly, allowing the record's focus to remain on the interplay between the bass, Alex Salinas's steady drumming, and Glafiro's rhythm guitar and bedroom-whisper vocals. The minimal approach suits the band on their debut because there's no cheating with regards to arrangements. These songs are completed works with peaks, valleys, and climaxes. "All of You" has a storming intro and outro section that represents well how the trio mix Latin and American folk influences with savvy modern rock.

"Disguise" is a tale of sexual obsession with an insistent snare drum and more body-moving bass. I like the way the whole band moves in concert towards musical orgasm during the instrumental break, but the way Glafiro sings "desire, desire, desire, desire" at the end is a little bit too on the nose. The more leisurely "Aleksandra" adds acoustic guitar to the mix and presents one of the best lead vocals on The Days Between. "Lines on the Road" doesn't offer much in the way of lyrical originality, but the chorus has a great melody and I love Salinas's rim shots and Glafiro's piano contributions.

The minimal instrumentation for most of The Days Between's tracks is its greatest strength. Glafiro doesn't repeat himself rhythmically, which allows the drummer and bass player to give each song its own personality. As excellent a representation this record is of their live sound, more instrumental touches the next time out could help Solid Ghost deliver the goods more strongly. I really like Glafiro's lead guitar flourishes where he chooses to add them, and the bolero and salsa rhythms cry out for some horn charts here and there. Organ or keyboards might help to strengthen the foundation a bit too, as all these players have instincts that leave a lot of space in the arrangements.

The biggest thing standing in the way of Glafiro & Solid Ghost finding a larger audience is the lyrics, which despite a few well-turned phrases ("All of You") tend to be a touch predictable and bland. The originality of their musical approach deserves better, but it's a lot easier to develop your lyrics than it is to build a trio sound this tight and beguiling.

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