Music News

Grandpa's Ghost

The folks at Owned & Operated, the Fort Collins label founded in 1997 by members of the punk band All, say their Upland subsidiary specializes in "roots rock." But this description fits the latest recording by Grandpa's Ghost -- based in teensy Pocahontas, Illinois -- like the glove into which O.J. Simpson couldn't squeeze his hand. Anyone expecting to hear acoustic-guitar plucking and campfire-friendly melodies will probably be rattled to within an inch of their lives by the instrumental assault dished out by Ben Hanna and a handful of co-conspirators with similar taste in Crazy Horse-style sonic bombardment.

Static's first disc, subtitled Tumble, features Hanna originals that range from relatively straightforward noise opuses like "The Queen of Crumpled Steel" to the two-part "Dead Head," which intersperses poetic mutterings with industrial racket. As for the second CD, dubbed Love, it's dominated by covers that hardly resemble the originals -- most prominently an evisceration of D.O.A.'s "Bloodrock" that rides the feedback wave for 27 wild minutes. The results can be self-indulgent at times, but they're also feral in a way that's as rare as steak tartare. Roots rock will never be the same.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts