Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Only Ghost in Town - The Summer Was Over Before it Began

The Only Ghost in Town – The Summer Was Over Before it Began

The Summer Was Over Before it Began is the first release from The Only Ghost in Town, the nom de plume for bespectacled New Jersey native Dan Saraceni (also of buzz-worthy indie band By Surprise, recently signed to Topshelf Records). The Summer Was Over is Saraceni’s ode to obscure lo-fi pop; his eyes only looking up from shoegazing to seek out the first Castor CD on Discogs. The album, originally released on cassette by Long Island’s Rok Lok records, has been self-released on CD-R with 3 additional songs, expanding on TOGIT’s drone-and-moan fuzzed out blend of whirring guitar distortion and faded vocals.

The album begins with “Aware”, which begins with 5 seconds of twinkling guitar atop reverby vocals (“And I wonder where the summer goes”) before urgently plunging into strident guitar chops. On just listening to the first track a few things become readily apparent. One, Saraceni has listened to quite a bit of Further in his time (it’s no secret, there’s a Further cover a few songs into the album). Two, the lo-fi production fits the music like a youth-large My Bloody Valentine T-Shirt. Three, despite the vocals being buried and sometimes indiscernible, the songwriting is oddly catchy and I find myself mumbling along in the car and humming the melodies at my desk at work.

The album is impressive even when it breaks down the wall of sound, tones down the distortion, and turns up the vocals. “Too Much” excises the tinny drums in favor of confessional Secret Stars-eque vocals where Saraceni asks “Is it so wrong to miss you when you’re gone? I think I’ve said too much now, you probably think I’m nuts.” “Too Much” is one of the longer songs on The Summer Was Over, clocking in at 3:11 (I’m sure Dan would appreciate a “Come Original” joke here), yet it doesn’t betray the short emotive bursts of the 1-2 minute tracks that drive the album.

In terms of the three additional songs, “Snowglobe” is a noisy trek through the halls of unrequited love, “Candid Summer” is an upbeat instrumental track that eases some of the sonic tension that binds the album, and lastly “I Know” offers a perfect closing track that brings the The Summer Was Over Before it Began full circle, exuding big guitar riffs, ebb and flow vocals that crest melodically during the chorus, and enough lo-fi distortion to make a young J Mascis jealous.

There are a few copies of The Summer Was Over Before it Began on cassette left at Rocklok, they are only $5 and close to selling out. The CD-R is available in the same place for $4. You can also stream the album on bandcamp.

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