Elliot Street Lunatic: Ghost Town Lullabies
The indie band scene has been saturated for a while now, and there are quite a few with very similar sounds. I am still not ready to give up because I keep running across good ones like Elliot Street Lunatic. This was another “happy accident” find. Someone I work with mentioned she was going to an album release event and her description of the music got me curious. After checking out what was available to sample online, a purchase of “Ghost Town Lullabies” was swiftly made.
This is somewhat of a local act to me. The band was founded and remains based in Lansing Michigan. “Ghost Town Lullabies” is their second album, but actually their first proper studio/label release. Even with a recent lineup change, much growth can be since the last album. A fact that is reflected in an ever-increasing fan base.
The sound is not completely unique. The meshing of Britpop, alternative and a touch of psychedelic/space has been done before, but a band does not need to be 100% original in order to have strong appeal. It also helps when considerable talent is combined with the right influences. I have picked out elements of The Flaming lips, U2 and The Cure. Oh and did I mention The Beatles? The guys worship The Beatles (as well they should). When this is put together with solid musicianship, intelligent lyrics and strong pop hooks, “Ghost Town Lullabies” results in a pretty satisfying collection of tunes.
The melancholy introspection of the lyrical content in “Ghost Town” belies the catchy melody and bright guitar work. The album opener may be the best example of what this band is all about. There is enough depth to please more discerning ears while remaining completely accessible. The instrumentation also shows that these guys are no amateurs.
“Maps” is a bouncy little number that easily gets the feet tapping.
On “Richard” we are loaded up into the WABAC machine and delivered into the era of ‘60s pop. You can almost picture the band wearing Nehru jackets when they recorded the track.
The album theme continues on “Escape” with the spacy guitar echo and the refrain of “You and your ghost… quit haunting me.” The Flaming Lips influence is also most strongly felt here.
“Wake Up” contains a few surprises. It begins as expected from what has been heard so far, but then there is a dramatic tempo change. A soft interlude ensues and the musical direction completely changes. As you might imagine, this is very appealing to an old prog-head like myself.
The spacy guitar theme returns on “Unfamiliar Place,” but it is really more about the U2 influence.
Dreamy and hypnotic, “This Modern World” will have you singing the background vocal long after the song ends (oo-ooh, oo-ooh, oo-ooh, oo-ooh-oo).
“Hollow Tree” is pretty much a straightforward mellow tune. It’s nice number but not the most memorable on the album.
A bit of angst is built up on “Shine.” It is tempered by some pop, especially in the harmonies, but never gets too soft. Harder elements of the Beatles can be felt on this one as well.
The closer is “Lullaby” and starts out with some brash U2 style strumming. The song then relaxes into its name and lulls you into relaxation. The strumming returns and then it builds into an anthem. Once again you will be tempted to sing along with an arm held high, swaying to the rhythm. Then it ends with a very simple guitar line. Nicely done.
Each time I spin this album it grows on me a little more. The melodies are infectious and the composition is intricate enough to get past my snobby tendencies. The lyrics are also thoughtful and clever. It is surprising that a group of men still in their twenties are making such mature music. No angry youth here. There is an unmistakable feeling of being in on the ground floor. This is very good, but I also see the potential for better things in the future.
I am always pleased to run across a new band with so much promise. “Ghost Town Lullabies” is a very good album, and also points to where Elliot Street Lunatic can go from here. At first glance it may seem familiar, but there is much more going on under the surface. Take a chance and support a quality outfit that deserves it.
Jason Marr – guitar, lead vocals
Eric Robbins – guitar
CJ Kjolhede – drums, vocals
Jordan Hahn – bass