Saturday, August 06, 2016

EP Review: 'Death Ride' by Don't Make Ghosts

Title:  Death Ride (BandCamp)
Artist:  Don't Make Ghosts (Official, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, BandCamp, SquareUp)

Oklahoma City's Don't Make Ghosts debut EP Death Ride is nothing short of spectacular.  The five-song EP beautifully mixes elements of melodic post hardcore, classic rock, and anthematic punk resulting in a sound that is heartfelt, energetic, uplifting, poignant, fresh, and familiar all at the same time.

Death Ride opens with  "Upside of Sorrow" an upbeat song that deals with depression, loss, and sadness as perfectly captured in the chorus.
Caught in the upside of sorrow
Walking a thin line
Down dirt roads
With everything passing you by
Paralyzed
Staring at the clouds
The song end with hope for a better tomorrow in the final verse --
Keep having the same dream
Keep searchin’ for signs
Duct tape on the windows
To hold out the light
Write songs on the hardwood floor
Surrounded by eyes
They think I look like a dead man
But I feel alright
Next is the near-ballad "Wrecking" a song touching on internal struggles and self-destruction.
Bloods the color of your scare
With the way you talk it all makes perfect sense
Shake the ribbon from your frame
Have a seat and watch this fire grow from a flame

A lovely place
Before the wrecking starts inside the gates
"Wrecking" is a methodical song that uses measured structure to bring out its desperation.  There are moments in this song that take me back to U2's "Exit" from The Joshua Tree.  Both fill the same roll in each respective record, of the song that is sonically the most different while at the same time is the anchor that holds everything together.  This song also showcases the diverse songwriting ability of the band.
Ashes fallen from the sky
Create a perfect stage where the motherless cry
Shake the ribbon from your frame
Have a seat and watch this fire grow from a flame
"Bottles of Wine," one of Death Wish's two love songs, is next.  With a tremendous opening guitar lick and a chorus that dares you to not sing along, the song is the retelling of a relationship's beginning and an affirmation that the people involved complete each other.
We met on the northside bridge
I was stumbling like a sinner
It was dark as hell
The streetlights didn't glow
If you got an extra bag
I don't mind to carry
I can haul a pretty heavy load 
And I will follow you anywhere you want me to
I will turn the pain into a memory that's miles away
And if we break the chain
It will never take away
Emptiness we can’t replace
With sorrow and bottles of wine
Next is "Pine Box" an extremely clever song that deals with loss and the repercussions of the death of a loved one but from the point of view of the deceased.
Just keep a light on Rose and you’ll make it through
I know the worlds been getting’ the best of you
I cannot see you but I’m hearing you loud and clear
Keep your chin up Rosie the end is near

Six years have passed
Since the dirt was cast
On a pine box east of our hometown
[...] 
I know a silver linings hard to find
There’s ghosts in picture frames that never shy
I curse the day that you were left behind

The EP closes with the ridiculously catchy "Highway 27."  The song is the second love song of the record but it's a love song about taking life by the balls and making the most out of every day.
Call in sick we're leaving home again
Turn a daydream into something that is real
This old blacktop always feels
Like a muddy waters record like the first time that we kissed
And I don’t know if we'll ever get out of here
We saw neighbors walking hand in hand
Searching for a missing body in the fields
The corn has been replaced by cotton since
Old men smoking cigarettes and tending fires in front yard pits
And I don't know if we'll ever be just like them 
Lost on highway 27
Lost on highway 27
Drive till it’s too late
When I first heard about Don't Make Ghosts I was immediately excited.  The band boasts two former members of my favorite act from the Sooner State, the Roustabouts.  Then I saw them open for the Hudson Falcons earlier this year and I was totally blown away.  Not only was it great watching some long-time friends back on the stage but they completely killed it.  From the second they took the stage, they owned it.  There was nothing flashy or fancy about their performance; they simply captivated the audience with their incredible music and I have been a die-hard fan ever since.

Death Ride is the perfect record to introduce the world to Don't Make Ghosts.  The performances are perfectly spot on, the lyrics and vocals are passionate, thoughtful, and intelligent, and the energy levels are off the charts.  The EP moves from rousing anthems to a ballad to mid-tempo rockers, seamlessly pulling influence from a number of disparate places creating a unique and definitive sound.  Recently a number of bands have taken influence from a variety of different genres and sub-genres creating a hybrid sound (see Iron Chic, Worship This!, Wolves & Wolves & Wolves & Wolves, Timeshares, Red City Radio) but few have done it this well.  Don't Make Ghosts have created something extremely special in Death Ride, something I know that I will be enjoying for many years to come.  Fans of Tender Defender, Foo Fighters, or any of the aforementioned bands need to do themselves a favor and buy this record!


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