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GHOST WOMAN

Ghost Woman

Anne, If

    One could be forgiven for getting that familiar feeling when listening to the music of Ghost Woman. And that's not just because songwriter & multi-instrumentalist Evan Uschenko is deeply steeped in classic guitar-led rock & pop songwriting (more on that later), it's that the music was, by design, intended to be evocative. But not evocative, however, of any one thing; what separates the music of Ghost Woman from a great many other bands working today is his openness to non-specificity. He's not trying to impart any sort of message to the listener; instead, the hope is that one will find themselves luxuriating in nuances of how the music is delivered, and the feelings it stirs up for each individual.

    For the past couple of years Ghost Woman has been Evan Uschenko's outlet for his interest in songwriting and recording, which began after a number of years spent playing as a sideman in various Canadian indie ensembles, most notably in the Michael Rault band, a group that displays a similar affinity for perfectly dialed, partially yesteryear-looking guitar pop. Following 2022's self-titled debut, issued by UK-based Full Time Hobby to great critical acclaim, Anne, If presents a slightly more expansive vision of what Ghost Woman can offer.

    The sound of Anne, If is certainly in keeping with past output: the music was performed and recorded (almost) entirely by Uschenko himself on his trusty Tascam 388 tape recorder, during what he describes as a “strange new chapter” in his life, living in a large, expansive house with nothing to do except record music, watch old VHS movies, and cook meals over an open fire in the backyard. “The ability to be making sounds and recording at any time of the day had a big influence on the way I worked and what was produced,” he says.

    And the results are stellar; Uschenko manages to cover more stylistic ground than ever while maintaining a strong throughline from start to finish. Though some songs seem to almost directly reference certain bands and eras of rock music, none of it is ever pure imitation; Uschenko's melodic sense – at once detached (in a Pavement kind of way) and yearning (the winsome melodies and harmonies of Crosby, Stills, and Nash are summoned more than once) – glues the album together. Spot-on late-60s-style drum fills on title track could be lifted from any number of tracks on the Nuggets compilation; “Street Meet” betrays an interest in the endless horizon feel of bands like Can and Neu!, and the chiming 12-string guitar sounds pervading the album (see “The End of A Gun”) would be right at home on classic sides by The Byrds, Love, and Jefferson Airplane.

    The warm, straightforward production – which recalls Safe As Milk-era Captain Beefheart, the first couple Beak albums, or Shel Talmy's 60s productions for The Creation or The Kinks – also knits the whole thing together, and its perfectly tape-saturated, analog sound offers a pleasing counterpoint to today's world of digital recording, plugin effects, and “we'll fix it in post” attitudes.

    Uschenko eschews the notion that the band is – at least entirely – a “solo project”, as Ghost Woman's live show is very much a band-centric affair, these days comprised of creative and romantic partner Ille van Dessel (Poolface) at the drums, and longtime hometown co-conspirator Nick Hay handling whatever string-related duties need attending to. Hay also contributes a lead vocal to Anne, If, turning in a performance of the song “Tripped” that treads eerily close to Mark Lanegan levels of weariness, and the record is further bolstered by an appearance from Ryan “Skinny” Dyck's steel guitar on “Lo Extrano”. The songs from Anne, If that have found their way to the stage during this year's plentiful smattering of live dates around Canada and Europe (including a recent string of shows with indie-folk-pop darling Chad Van Gaalen) have already begun to take on new shapes, and the band – in whatever formation it appears – is not to be missed.


    TRACK LISTING

    1. Welcome
    2. Broke
    3. 3 Weeks Straight
    4. Anne, If
    5. Street Meat
    6. The End Of A Gun
    7. Lo Extrano
    8. Arline
    9. Down Again
    10. Tripped
    11. So Long

    Ghost Woman

    Ghost Woman

      Ghost Woman’s blissfully hypnotic world is the creation of melodic maniac, Evan John Uschenko. Beating the odds of life as a busy touring musician, salvaging and replacing his instruments from burned down rehearsal spaces, van break-ins and far too many relocations to list, Uschenko has transformed his lifelong habit of homespun sonic exploration into a sensory ‘mix and match’ experience destined for the main stage. “When I record songs I tend not to approach them with any preconceived idea, I take a seat, tune the guitar and enjoy myself. It’s always been like that for me. If it don’t turn you on, what’s the point?” Evan’s sonic and literal adventures as a touring multi-instrumentalist with songwriter/producer/guitarist Michael Rault saw him share international stages with the likes of Jacco Gardner, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard and The Mild High Club; Who unwittingly paved the way for Ghost Woman’s inevitable incarnation. “Having the opportunity to witness those groups perform was inspiring to say the least. Especially Gizz and Jacco. The attention to detail, professionalism as a touring act and the extra effort put into creating a killer live show doesn’t go unnoticed. It’s a calibre I’m just not used to where I’m from.” “When the tours were wrapped, I got home and immediately started writing music. And music with a live show in mind” Ghost Woman’s upcoming self-titled LP brims with self-produced and self-performed Anatolian sounds and lo-fi hooks. Subscribing to the school of authenticity Uschenko seemingly shares with rebellious new-psych classmates Kurt Vile or The Black Angels, Ghost Woman takes its inspiration largely from groups like Can, Beak, Jefferson Airplane, The Byrds, and The Firesign Theatre. do.

      TRACK LISTING

      1. All The Time
      2. Do You
      3. Dead & Gone
      4. Along
      5. Clockwork
      6. Behind Your Eyes
      7. All Your Love
      8. Jreaming
      9. Good
      10. Comes On

      Ghost Woman

      Hindsight Is 50/50

        Despite ‘Hindsight Is 50/50’ being the third album from Ghost Woman in 18 months, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Evan Uschenko believes that this is the first album that “finally captures the true nature of the band”.

        The album was recorded mostly live in three days at the analogue Kerwax studios in Brittany, France by Christophe Chavanon (The Good Damn). Uschenko states that “the first two albums were never meant to be albums: they are like pages from diaries that have long since been burned. With the introduction of Ille van Dessel as co-writer/drummer, the project feels like it has a direction”.

        There is a confidence and assurance that feels built upon the 2022 eponymous debut and the follow-up ‘Anne, If’, which was only released in January 2023. This urgency to progress and keep moving forward is reflected by the band: “We prefer to keep busy. But we’re lazy too. We still feel like we could be doing a lot more.” Overall, there is a darker, denser feel compared to previous releases, but the sound and vibe of this album is more akin to what the project was supposed to be when it started in 2016, finally realising Ghost Woman’s creative vision.

        The immersion into the album is immediate, locking in with the incessant riffing of ‘Bonehead’ setting the scene for what follows. Next up is the echoey, garage-surf twang of ‘Alright Alright’. The opening line “take a little walk with me…” has a sinister, gothic hue that wouldn’t feel out of place on Murder Ballads or Peaky Blinders. Sonically the album holds itself together within a warm, analogue soundworld, but with few digestible vocal melodies steering the tracks or easily giving up their meaning. This is a conscious decision, with Uschenko claiming that “there is never a concept when it comes to creating something, and no intention behind anything we create, other than to make noise and complete an album”.

        ‘Yoko’ reverts to chugging boogie, spitting into life in bursts of squalling guitars, and a mid-song breakdown that infers the live version will far outlive its three and a half recorded minutes. Most songs are similarly restrained in their running time, indicating a strong sense of focus and editing, rather than letting the songs run away with themselves. Only ‘Juan’ really breaks the five-minute mark and feels like the album’s centrepiece; an exuberant amalgamation of the themes and tones surrounding it. The band say that “these songs were made to be played live”, and the closing build will work perfectly in the darkest, noisiest club you can find.

        The title track continues this positive curve. The title is a play on the saying ‘Hindsight is 20/20’, based on a friend’s drunken tattoo gone wrong. “Maybe it means life is all chance. Maybe it means common sense isn't so common”, say the band. Vocals come drenched in reverb and meaning is often suggested rather than explicit. The guitars are heavier and the vocals are less easily discernible, but Uschenko believes that “vocals are not important. We prefer to not be understood. If you’re looking for meaning in these lyrics, might I suggest buying a Lenny Bruce record instead?”. Sound advice indeed, so immerse yourself in this album and tell your friends about it without the benefit of hindsight, 20/20 or otherwise.

        Overall, Ghost Woman appreciate that they have arrived at where they always wanted to get to: “It is the sound it was meant to be. It is the band as a whole”.

        TRACK LISTING

        1 Bonehead
        2 Alright Alright
        3 Highly Unlikely
        4 Ottessa
        5 Along Pt.2
        6 Yoko
        7 Wormfeast
        8 Juan
        9 Hindsight Is 50/50
        10 Buik

        Woman's Hour

        Her Ghost / I Need You

          Brand new UK signings for Secretly Canadian, Woman’s Hour, release their new 7” single.

          Woman’s Hour are already one of the most blogged and talked about bands of 2014, having spent 2013 touring and building a solid UK fanbase with their first two singles.

          The band have just opened for Anna Calvi on a string of shows and are soon to be seen playing with Metronomy, as well as a run of their own.

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Andy says: Gorgeous, pulsing, 80's mix of chunky electronics and subtle guitars with a big, sad female vocal. Subtly epic and really rather good!


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