» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
This Pen Is a Weapon
Some Records

Rating: 8/10 ?

October 1, 2004
This Pen Is a Weapon throws down some serious rock, from the feedback that opens "Broken Ears/Poison Hearts" to the slow burn of the closer, "We Shall Persist." The Ghost make no bones about it, they are here to rock your ass off.

Their 2002 Steve Albini recorded debut, This Is a Hospital, laid the ground work for their caustic guitar driven rock and received some critical praise. For This Pen Is a Weapon, The Ghost relocated from Berkley/Oakland, CA to Chicago where they recorded with Brian Deck. The move has definitely paid off: The Ghost sound right at home with Chicago's growing post-rock scene. Their dissonant guitars, half screamed half shouted vocals and raw production work perfectly with one another.

"Broken Ears/Poison Hearts" makes for the perfect rock opener. Feedback grows from the background as the drums start pounding away, and then the guitars enter with their picked melodies learned from listening to hours and hours of Sweep the Leg Johnny. Brian Moss's strained shouts add to the tension as he opens with "All comfort has its consequence/There is blood in our leisure". New member Paul Lask's guitar lines and experimental melodies interplay with Moss's guitar as Randy Bleichner's drums crash in the background with Jordan Schalich's bass. The Ghost slips right into "Exorcism in the Key of A Minor". Moss screams "Writing in circles and tearing out pages/ Quietly plotting our fictional lives" as the guitars seamlessly transition from subdued melodies to full on power chords.

Deck's production favors The Ghost's raucous guitars and booming rhythm section, which provide much of the energy and immediacy felt throughout This Pen Is a Weapon. Fortunately, Deck did not lose Moss's vocals in the mix, which are really the heart here; his lyrics are smartly written, scathing tales of angst and apathy. "Mad Max Was an Amateur" tells the story of an unknown rock band toiling on apartment floors with no money for food, playing shows for a love of music. Nowhere in Moss's lyrics does he come across as snotty or arrogant, which is refreshing when so many bands' lyrics are sappy and apathetic. "Banisher and Loving It" is the most accessible song throughout, which pounds through four minutes of pure rock fury. Bleichner's frantic drums and Lask's punchy guitar create a whirlwind of fervor and energy on "A Letter from God". The Ghost keep throwing punches until the final track of This Pen Is a Weapon, "We Shall Persist" recalls early Sweep the Leg Johnny's slower tracks in an instrumental form.

Building from their great debut, The Ghost is now hitting on all cylinders. Their songwriting chops, lyrics and instrumentation only seem to get better with age. For pure Chicago influenced rock, it's hard to find much that tops what The Ghost are putting out.

Reviewed by Craig Mertes
Craig lives, works and listens to music in the general vicinity of Orlando, Florida, where he absorbs everything from hip-hop to indie, pop, rock, punk and metal. His all time favs include Hum, Clutch, Dismemberment Plan, and the Reverend Horton Heat. The last we heard, Craig was spinning Vast Aire, Soul Position, Blues Explosion, Motörhead, the Blood Brothers and Dead Meadow. Craig is also a life-long, die-hard Cubs fan, so lay off.

See other reviews by Craig Mertes



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