taking a listen

by Ryan Snyder

reviews of the moment

FUTURE GHOSTS — Oh, Great City

Not to be confused with the Chicago-based psych-pop band of the same name, the Greensboro quartet Future Ghosts is another project of yeoman guitarist/songwriter Aslan Freeman, which shares the core of its lineup with American Joy. But whereas American Joy borrows it’s spirited pop sound from bands like Brand New and the Replacements, Future Ghosts is decidedly more melancholy in its tenor, favoring the shoegaze-y textures of the Radio Dept. and staccato alt-rock riffing of the Airborne Toxic Event. At the epicenter of their debut EP Oh, Great City (Gate City?) lies further comparisons to ATE, as Aslan Freeman’s affected baritone tends to be is an outlier in power pop. The EP’s five tracks remain consistently rooted in that vein, but all have elements that draw from a swath of influences. “Distiller” opens with a rootsy blues riff that recalls late ’90s Stone Temple Pilots, while Chris Carr’s proggy time signatures on “Lock the Light In” remind of those found on Angels & Airwaves’ LOVE. There’s a slightly indulgent, theatrical element to it all that not simply limited to the band’s huge melodies, but in it’s lyrical content as well. The terse phrasing of the chorus in opener “Spotless” and the melodrama that ensues afterward establishes the EP as one that maybe takes itself a little too seriously, which has complicated Freeman’s lyrics in the past. It’s easy to relate to the kind of atmosphere being created here, but similes like “You can beg and you can shiver/ but you stay in bed more than a river” in “Distiller” can still cause a flinch. Musically, it’s more than solid, with drummer Mike Kane driving pinpoint tempos, though it’s difficult to distinguish bassist Curtis Armstead in the mix much of the time. Looking past some of its minor deficiencies, it’s still an interesting mix of songs with a brooding intensity that seem built for the stage.


Future Ghosts will perform at Greene Street Club on Wednesday in support of Emery.