Ghost in the Machine – TV Ghost return with “Disconnect”

TVGHOST2_Greg The Mayor
Photo Credit: Greg the Mayor

Band: TV Ghost
Album: Disconnect
Release Date: September 3
Label: In the Red

While this isn’t typically my style, I thought I’d venture out into the shoegazer realm and check out TV Ghost. This genre is marred with bands that can’t sing, can’t play instruments, and apparently can’t afford a good studio. Off-key vocals, guitar parts that sound like a 10 year who just picked up the instrument six months ago trying to play “La Bamba” at quarter-speed, and super reverby lo-fi recordings remind me of Friday nights at Bar Sinister in LA, not being dressed “goth” enough, and having to “don’t you know who I am” my way in without paying the cover. Interestingly, this album has these elements, but they don’t seem to be a result of a band that was quick to put out an album after jamming three times. Much like when I first heard the Dillinger Escape Plan and thought, “ Either these guy really suck and can’t keep time, or they are geniuses…” (and of course the latter being the case, as they are one of my all-time favorite bands now) this album makes me cautiously optimistic that these guys are just really talented and know the genre so well they are able to make it sound like they are not trying, while still sounding really damned good. Songs like “Placid Deep” show some fantastic texturing of sounds without overdoing it. They know when to saturate the reverb, and when to dial it back, making for a beautiful soundscape that has to be listened to with headphones to really admire it. Throughout the album you can hear some great influences – Echo and the Bunnymen on “Five Colors Blind,” Lou Reed on “Dread Park,” and the whole album has an eerie Nick Cave-ish vibe to it.

TV Ghost has been able to produce something here worth listening to. But, when you are working in a niche genre, it doesn’t pay to be different. They might be a little too polished for the purists, and not polished enough for the radio-crowd. I doubt that the band had pop stardom in mind when they were forming the group, but they are working their way in the right direction. Just like At the Drive-in was able to eke out some success when their Grand Royal debut hit the scene (before the band and label went belly-up), TV Ghost has a chance to use this album as a stepping stone towards either commercial prominence in a small demographic, or become underground heroes that work in accounting firms by day, and rock out by night. Either way, it’s a decent album, well-produced, and worth a listen regardless of your personal tastes and interests.

Mark Johnston, a native Californian, has travelled the world with various circuses, sideshows, and arena rock tours. As a musical monkey he has delighted fans the world over. Upon his return, he has since founded the Atomsmashers Publishing Company, written 2 books in the company's Warm Horchata series, created a weekly comic strip based around LA's more "colorful" characters, written reviews, articles, and rantings under various pseudonyms; this has since culminated in Johnston being named Captain Fabulous by the Superhero Association of America.