No Rest For Ghosts
"I love it when a plan comes together." - Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith, The a-Team
That phrase would resonate through me every time George Peppard would utter it every Monday night before the band of rebel do-gooder misfits floated the van out of a Turkish prison, blowing up trash bags with Mr. T's hair dryer to fashion a balloon or whatever bastardization of logic the boys were performing that episode. To this day, I still love when a plan comes together, though as a rule, I'm not a planner. But the warmth that gloweth from an executed objective is undeniable and unmistakable. Its why rich folks smile on the golf course, because of sound planning that affords them this moment of public leisure, not because they like a game as stupid as golf.
For me, the organic sense of planning is best demonstrated in the loose algebra that forms a lot of ramshackle indie rock, like the well-read, drunken, histrionics of Frog Eyes or the sub-stoner static of latter-day Sonic Youth, whose Buddha is sent out to be killed on the road with every note they strike nowadays, to the ship in a bottle curiosity that is Minus Story. On their latest No Rest For Ghosts, the favorite sons of Boonville, Missouri create another squeaky voiced masterpiece like last year's The Captain Is Dead, Let the Drum Corpse Dance, where absently strummed guitars, parade marshall drumbeats and muted horn sections waver to make some queasy yet heartwarming stuff. The opening piano bits on "I Was Hit" give notice of the pace to be expected throughout - languid and dreamlike.
Some comparisons to Wayne Coyne's starry-eyed exuberance could be made, but I think the Minus Story is less concerned with saving your life than the Flaming Lips are. They instead seem to just want to keep you company as you float on the tides of life. "Knocking on Your Head" with its buzzer keyboards and seasick beat drive this home. listening to this is almost trying to watch a bird flurry around its nest - you never really get a good bead on it, but its delightful to watch it. This album is full of moments like that like the choir of sighs on "Hold On" thick enough to give you a contact high, or the upbeat swivel of "Little Wet Head" or the ominous vocal harmonizing on "There is a Light." This whole record is a hazy joy like that. Listening to this puts me in that nether state, where I feel I have to clean my glasses, but it turns out those spots I'm seeing are real and floating all around me.
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com
The Review of the Year of Things #1: Jason Lewis surveys the years' great albums and noting so many, compartmentalized, as men do. So, here, albums by those so profoundly impacted by Death