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The Holy Ghost

Broken Records (Clearly)

With so much music out there, one of the hardest things for a band to do is find an original sound -- so more power to those who try diligently to stand apart from everyone else. But there's also something to be said for continuity, for not turning 180 degrees with each song that appears on a single disc. The Holy Ghost is a bit guilty of spinning schizophrenically from style to style on Broken Record; it's as if the songs were all written by different people or were compiled over a period of ten years.

This album's saving grace is the fact that most of the material is strong and enjoyable once you get used to the jagged transitions. There are driving songs like "Mary Was a Maker," with a bass line straight out of a Gary Numan tune and wild, warped vocals à la Jon Spencer, as well as roving rock offerings like "Horses on TV." "Cop in Cornrows," a darkly redneck, Tom Waitsian dirge, growls through madness in refrains such as this one: "Steel-toed boots/A busted knee/When you lose/All sides, you see/You're a cop in cornrows."

There's plenty to like here, despite the out-of-balance-washing-machine quality that runs through the CD. Singer Christopher Dean Heine has an engaging Stephen Malkmus-like warble that drifts weirdly and entertainingly up into falsetto without warning, and drummer Nicholas Decarmine has a pounding relentlessness to his playing that sounds like glass crashing on concrete. There are punk sensibilities at play, though they're largely subterranean. And while most Holy Ghost songs have a certain bleakness, they sometime also recall the quirky, sarcastic pop/rock sound of bands like Cake and Weezer.

Although the members of Holy Ghost are talented enough to play any type of music they want, it might do them good to pick just one style next time out. Then again, maybe that's the point: Why settle for one when you're good at all of them? Holy Ghost appears at the Lion's Lair on Monday, April 1.

 
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