On and off the record
By Michel Cicero 03/09/2011
GYPSY DEATH STAR
How to Skin a Ghost
A collection of redemptive breakup songs written by a couple of presumably happily married men. Counterintuitive? Maybe, but vocalist/lyricist and all-around mad genius Wyatt Hull says it’s just the energy he was feeling at the time they were written. The debut EP (with eight tracks, it’s flirting with full-length) by Gypsy Death Star — Hull’s minimalist, post-Cheetahsaurus project — is quickly getting the attention of tastemaker types to the south, and the video for “Werewolf Heart” has gone viral since its release last week. Cesar Augusto’s deliciously creepy synth soundtrack behind Hull’s foreboding, maniacal vocals create an alluring but dangerous chemistry, much like that of the imaginary lovers who have top billing on Ghost. To wit: “You can be the beauty, I’ll be the beast/I wanted to tame you, but I’d settle just for release/you can be the silver bullet in this werewolf heart, show where the beast begins and the man he stops.”
Available on iTunes and at live shows. Gypsy Death Star will perform on Saturday, March 19, at Zoey’s. Clicke here to see the music video for Werewolf Heart.
ARON VAN ALSTINE
Here Comes a Train
Classically trained multi-instrumentalist Aron Van Alstine landed in Ojai after a three-year tour of South America, where he could be found “playing and singing his way from the mountains of Bolivia to the streets of Brazil.” Once in the valley’s idyllic environs, he got connected with some local musicians and eventually, with their help, recorded Here Comes a Train, which he debuted at Zoey’s Café earlier this year. More of a people-mover than a freight train, Van Alstine’s music rolls at a steady, soothing clip through a series of Americana- and jazz-inspired soundscapes. Sophisticated folk with a stop or two at the honky-tonk, Van Alstine’s strengths are his clever sense of humor and vocal delivery reminiscent of Mose Allison. Van Alstine is a natural fit for the Ojai scene, we hope to see more live performances from him this year.
Available at Made in Ojai and Buffalo Records in Ventura. For more information, visit www.aronvanalstine.com.
The Echo in My MindRecorded on analog equipment, using vintage techniques and slated for a vinyl-only release, this debut EP by Mouse Grey left me wanting more. The first in a series of vinyl EPs the band — Christopher Yanez (guitar, vocals), Alex Jolly (drums) and Jose Palomares (bass) — plans to eventually package together as a full-length next year, Echo travels the spectrum from shoegazing to stargazing with some good, strong, guitar-driven rocking in between. The old-school purist approach to recording pays off, and it’s easy to tell Yanez has spent considerable time alone in a room with the lights off, headphones on, records strewn and volume maxed. Keep an eye on Mouse Grey.
The record will be for sale April 19 at Salzer’s, Grady’s and Peacock Records. Mouse Grey will open for Peter Murphy at the Ventura Theater on March11; and compete in the Sans Souci Battle of the Bands on March 16. Visit www.mousegrey.com. Click here to see the music video for Echo in My Mind.