Release Date: Aug 12, 2016
Record label: Empty Cellar
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Neo-Psychedelia, Garage Rock Revival
Hitting a graceful midpoint between the pop-centric side of '60s garage rock (less fuzz, more jangle) and the sun-dappled sound of early psychedelia (think Younger Than Yesterday-era Byrds without the world-weary undertones), the Cool Ghouls have delivered a cool pop triumph with their third full-length album, 2016's Animal Races. That description would suggest Cool Ghouls are deeply infatuated with the sounds of the past, and they clearly are. But unlike many like-minded bands, these folks embrace their inspirations as a jumping-off point and use them to make music that sounds fresh, smart, and deeply satisfying, not nostalgic for an era they never knew.
Cool Ghouls return, and this time they have a fire in their collective bellies. When listen to the San Francisco band, it’s hard not to think of The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and a whole slew of Nuggets mainstays. But don’t be fooled, they're not just tapping in to the past because it’s trending. Oh no, Cool Ghouls believe in their sound and songs, as their psych forbearers did.
Bombastic Bay Area boys Cool Ghouls are back with their third album in four years. The prolific quartet open their album, and all their work, with one key objective: to breathe life into old-style rock ‘n’ roll. They’ve drawn comparisons to Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, and the Doors for their no-frills, though ultimately cheerful, brand of rock.
Cool Ghouls have insisted they are not a retro act, but like it or not, they are.That's not a bad thing. The music world needs the occasional retro act, and these San Francisco rockers do it phenomenally. There may be no other current band that captures the '60s this convincingly; zone out and you'll forget that you're listening to an album from 2016.
We all know the story, every 60s US town had a legion of “garage bands”. Moorpark’s THE BLEU FOREST are yet another to add to the list of perfectly acceptable young combos that never released an official record – though these recordings were supposed to be released on Tower. A Thousand Trees Deep (*** Gear Fab) was cut in 1968 and is suitably wobbly and naïve, sounding a little like a high school version of the Deram-era Moody Blues sprinkled with West Coast inflections.
Cool Ghouls, out of San Francisco, fit very neatly into that city’s tripped out, fuzzed over vibe. It’s no stretch at all to imagine this band sharing a bill with the Mantles or Ty Segall or the Fresh & Onlys. It’s no surprise to find that Kelley Stoltz produced this album (and Sonny Smith the one before it). If you like drawling guitars and the springy thud of basslines, if you prefer sunny melodies dredged in fog and dissonance, Cool Ghouls is as good a bet as any.