Erotic nighttime drives in the desert, border crossings, tales from southwestern streets are just a few of the themes addressed in Ghostcow's debut CD "Vistas". Ghostcow has been developing their sound and playing live around Tucson for three years and their coming-out CD has just been released. "We're really proud and excited of the way the CD sounds", David Hall, lead singer-songwriter and guitarist, said. "None of us had done any serious recording before and we were a bit concerned we were going to dump a lot of money into something that was ordinary. But what we've produced has us really eager to share it." This is the first review of our CD "Vistas" from the Tucson Weekly by the music editor, Stephan Siegel (firstname.lastname@example.org): The locals of Ghostcow (their choice in caps, not mine) are well aware that their name would lead one to believe that they're a country band-or at least a desert rock one. To wit, an excerpt from the band's one-sheet: "We're a band that has a quirky, country-music sounding name and a bit off-center approach to our songs, but we're really just a rock band." David Hall (singer, songwriter, guitarist) says. "I remember the first time we played with (local legend) Al Perry at Plush (Tucson's premier rock-club): after our set Al comes up to me and said, "Wow, you guys are a rock band!" As the band's debut CD, Vistas (Surface of the Sun Records) demonstrates, Ghostcow are, indeed, a rock band, one influenced by '60s rock particularly of the garage and psychedelic varieties. Check out for example, "Not about Me", a vintage organ-drenched blazer that recalls the '80s Paisley underground bands of Los Angeles, particularly the Dream Syndicate. "Nothing Happens", which opens the album, is a rave-up steeped in '60s-era tropes like Farfisa organ, surf-style background vocals, jangly guitar and handclaps, and includes one of the best single-line summaries of Tucson ever: "Where muddled dreams are driven by the heat into space." Whether it's the work of the band or of Jim Waters-who engineered, co-produced, and co-mixed the album-I don't know, but there are little flourishes here and there that save certain songs from being also-rans. Case in point is "Release", which, at 4 ½ minutes, is the longest song on Vistas and may have gotten lost among some of the other tunes if it weren't for the vibraphone that sucks you into paying closer attention. Once your tuned in, thought, it's difficult to resist it's eerie charms, which are contrasted with cheerful backing "doot-doo"s. Likewise "Smiley" grabs you with it's Bo Diddley beat and blues harp, and some almost-jazzy piano-playing draws you into the Dave Prival-penned "Ringtone" and the quirky "We Got Something". Judging from Vistas, Ghostcow have got something, indeed. Well, that was nice, Thanks Stephan! Specifically Ghostcow is a desert-garage rock band with a twist, "I like the idea of writing songs that are snappy with some depth." Hall says. Hall who writes and sings most of the bands songs does share the songwriting and singing duties with Dave Prival (Keyboards, vocals, harmonica). "For this CD I think we've concentrated on showcasing our songs that have more of a Tucson/regional emphasis" Prival says. "When I came to Tucson over twelve years ago the first thing I noticed was the strong music scene here and I've always wanted to contribute." Engineered, co-mixed and co-produced by Jim Waters (Lucinda Williams, Calexico, Year Long Disaster, Sonic Youth, R.L. Burnside) "During our mixing sessions Jim Waters would keep saying how we sounded like a band with our own sound" Hall said. "Jim was very enthusiastic about this project and he recorded us with such passion we're convinced that this came through in the recording". Ghostcow was formed in 2005 by David Hall from the ashes of a failed PhD project. Looking around for a creative outlet an old band-mate from the '80s prodded David to pick up his guitar and make music again: Ghostcow was born. The name of the band was inspired by a remark David overheard '70s movie star Shelly Duval made regarding Tucson while in a Palm Springs Dennys ("Tucson, yeah I've been there, nothing but vacant lots and ghost cows"). "I used this as the bands' name because I wanted something that related to Tucson in some way but that was basically pretty meaningless, unless someone wanted to see meaning in a band name" Hall says. Hall and bassist Bronwen Heilman were already playing together with a drummer when Prival started playing with them in late 2004. Mark McLemore (drums) joined the band in 2007. "Together I think we're the perfect match for creating our sound" Hall says. "We listen to the song and try our best to make it come alive. If it doesn't come alive for us we dump that song and move on to developing the next new one".
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