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On Deck: Ghost Wave

By ; August 27, 2013 at 12:00 PM 


Somewhere between the shimmering guitars and pop harmonies of bands like The Clean and The Chills and the more dreamy indie rock sensibilities of bands such as DIIV and Wild Nothing sits Auckland, New Zealand’s latest musical export, Ghost Wave. As initially conceived, the band was the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Matthew Paul and had its origins in a small room in Auckland, where musical co-conspirator Eammon Logan helped to record and produce the band’s self-titled debut EP. Attracting some local and international attention from various critics (most notably music blog Neon Gold), the band planned some initial forays in the US and eventually played a few shows in Los Angeles and New York, including a stop at CMJ, where they gained a reputation for their spirited live shows.

After this brief detour through the states, the band retreated to New Zealand to begin work on their debut LP, Ages.  The band self-produced the album but brought on Thomas Bell (The Clean) to engineer and record the tracks.  Taking only six days to record the entire album, Ghost Wave infused a sense of restlessness and forward momentum into the ten tracks on Ages, which sets it apart from the chiming casualness of many of their jangle pop peers.  And in fact, these tracks skew a bit darker than the sunnier tracks on their debut EP.  When talking about how these songs sound in contrast to the band’s earlier work, singer Matthew Paul says, “There is a kind of amphetamine-like feel to this record. I think, in terms of the way the songs are played, we were less interested in loud/soft and wanted to create a mechanic type sound and song-presence.”

Recently Paul took some time to sit down with Beats Per Minute and talk a bit about some of the records which helped to shape his musical development.  From the classic 60’s Stones sound of Aftermath to soul legend James Brown and under-appreciated folk songstress Sibylle Baier, he takes us through some of the classic influences that have shaped him personally and which have played a large role in the formative years of Ghost Wave.  Read his full list below in the latest installment of our On Deck series.

Magic Castles - Magic Castles
Magic Castles – “Death Dreams” (Magic Castles, 2012)

I don’t remember how I came to know about this group but I’m really glad I did because I listen to this LP all the time. The first time I heard this record a lot of things made sense about it, especially just the overall sound and texture of the recordings, you can kind of just tell its coming from the right place. I used to have a few standout tracks (“Big Sur,” “Ballad Of The Golden Bird,” “10 100”) but now I’ve realised the whole LP is excellent. I’d say this is one of the better releases of modern times.

Sibylle Baier - Colour Green
Sibylle Baier – “Colour Green” (Colour Green, 1970)

Anyone I play this record to always falls in love with it and it’s not hard to see why (listen to it and you will too). It’s winter over here in New Zealand and this record has a kind of misty thing going on, it sort of feels like a fireplace in the mist though. I like the title track a lot and I’d like to make some more stripped back folk style music like this at some point.

The Rolling Stones - Aftermath
The Rolling Stones – “Don’cha Bother Me” (Aftermath, 1966)

Well I just really like this LP as a complete body of work, whereas I think for the most part the Stones sort of get known for their singles. Of course it has some amazing instrumentation work by Brian Jones, but most of all I like the way it is pieced together. For instance Lady Jane is a sweet song but then you just wait a couple seconds and hear those couple of snare hits signal the start of Under My Thumb, it is just done so right (and I suppose restrained). Not sure who produced this, maybe ALO, but I love the style of it (future blues), and all the songs just kinda do it for me. I recently bought a copy of Aftermath on vinyl and haven’t looked back. Also Mother’s Little Helper… she goes runnin’ for the sheltah…

James Brown - Papa
James Brown – “Papa Don’t Take No Mess” (1973)

Eammon our drummer got hip on a few James Brown tracks recently, coincidentally I was reading Richard Hell’s book which mentions Mr Brown a bit and as soon as Eammon played me “The Boss” and “The Payback” I fell for it, it’s very rock n roll in its way and then we stumbled on “Papa Don’t Take No Mess” which is incredible. We always laugh about the crowd sounds. Apparently “Papa” along with “The Payback” were songs that he did to soundtrack movies, but got rejected…

Primal Scream - XTRMNTR
Primal Scream – “Keep Your Dreams” (XTRMNTR, 2000)

It’s not easy to select songs for a list like this so I try not to dwell on it too much. I dig everything about this song, I remember walking home pretty late a while ago and listening to this, I think I was quite drunk, but yeah it just kind of resonated for me and so I thought I would add it to my little selection.

Ghost Wave’s debut record, Ages, is out now on Flying Nun Records. 

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