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More Dusty Guitar Ballads

Hungry Ghosts
Alone Alone
(Smells Like Records)

There must be something about the continent and country of Australia that makes groups want to write such sad, desolate songs. Perhaps it's the isolation from the rest of the world, or the fact that over half of the country is an arid wasteland, and perhaps it's both that at least partially subconsciously contribute. While the Dirty Three are the first band on everyone's lips in terms of creating beautiful instrumental landscapes, Hungry Ghosts are definitely weaved from the same cloth and despite some similarities, also go off in new directions all together.

Another trio of musicians, Hungry Ghosts also have a penchant for creating very cinematic musicals compositions, they have sort of a dark spaghetti western feel that infiltrates many of their tracks and reminds one of updated versions of old Ennio Morricone scores with a touch of Calexico. Although they've released a full-length album and an EP on their own, this full-length release is the result of them being heard by Sonic Youths Steve Shelley and with a wider release will hopefully make them more well known to the rest of the world.

Over the course of almost one hour exactly, the group winds their way through 3 larger pieces that are split up into 15 different tracks or sub-movements. The first track of "Back For More I Go" evokes images of a windswept, desolate road with the dreary bass and swept drums (with some subtle violin and accordion work to back it all up) while the second track lifts spirits a bit with more of an undulating progression of nearly the same instruments that makes it feel like things are stumbling to a slightly less dire outlook.

The first movement closes out with a very short interlude of the quite tapping of a muffled cymbal before the second one starts up with the track "Reading Your Mail." Things continue at sort of a drab pace until the opening guitar of the album titled track "Alone Alone" melt everything in sight with their quivering, rogue feel. It's the guitar that dominates the rest of the piece as well, whether it's tangling with the hum from another guitar or jangling off the frets during the more visceral moments. As the centerpiece of the album, the track is a standout.

Of course, the group doesn't let anything down from there out, whether it's the slightly seductive and playful violin and accordian on, "I Don't Think About You Anymore, But I Don't Think About You Anyless," the shimmering guitars and drums of "Remember What It Was Like To Float?," or the haunting beauty of "Nothing Has To Happen." If you like the Dirty Three or just like the feel of an instrumental that reminds you of a dusty canyon road, this is one album that you should definitely check out. I can't wait to hear more from this group in the future.

Rating: 8