Monday, December 28, 2020

Psych rock concept album GHOST FROG "Astral Arcade"


Fuzzy is swimming in a sea of amazing psych rock concept albums this year (LOOT THE BODY, MELLOW BEAST are just a couple of them), and the new "Astral Arcade" by GHOST FROG sails this psychedelic ocean at the top of its class. Ghost Frog is a little edgier than the others with extra layers of dreamy synths, and fuzzier vocals, both of which serve to set Ghost Frog apart from the others. Some might call it shoegaze which I can't argue with, but every psych rock fan will want to check out "Astral Arcade" on Bandcamp:

The tone takes a sharp turn when we get to "Bio Break" with the drums coming way up in the mix and the pace slowing way down. It's the lone instrumental song on the album, and serves nicely as the interlude between the two acts.

So what's the concept of the album? Kinda sorta life in the future at a video arcade where both the games and the players seem to taking things to the extreme. In a possibly dystopian authoritarian society with some aliens thrown in. One thing that is critical in a concept album is for the theme of the lyrics to fit with the theme of the music, and Ghost Frog have nailed it. The frenetic yet catchy riffs with futuristic effects are the perfect match for the stories being told in the vocals. 

The second thing I always ask myself when I'm listening to a concept album is, "Does the story add anything to the music?" and the answer is a resounding YES because when you dig into the lyrics, you are find more details for the entire album. And, there is something about a good concept album which really just makes you want to start at the beginning, and listen all the way through. "Astral Arcade" has that nailed.

Only gripe I have is, this could use another song or 2. Not practical given the album is on vinyl, but I was enjoying the high-energy vibe so much that when it ended, it was a bit startling. Maybe the last song needed to let me down a little easier. Just one gator's opinion, and very minor niggle at that. But concept albums live to a higher standard than just a collection of songs, and need to take into account the overall sonic flow of the album.

Fuzzy's Favorite track: "Astral Arcade" is such a strong album that picking out a single as the favorite feels like nit-picking, so I'll pick "Agent Provocateur" as the track I would suggest to a new listener who only has time to listen to a single Ghost Frog song. This one captures the essence of the band's big energy, dreamy sound, and fuzzed-out vocals. 

From the band: 

We’re a space rock band from Portland, OR called Ghost Frog. We play heavy psychedelic stoner rock that combines doomy riffs with punk energy, while also evoking themes derived from sci-fi/ horror film and literature as well as all things paranormal. The result is what we call “paranormal stoner punk,” a retrofuturistic brand of nebulous noise rock that sounds like it was made by angry aliens on acid. We just released our third album. It’s called “Astral Arcade,” and it’s a sludgy (cyber)space rock opera about extraterrestrial life, the universe and video games.

FFO: The Black Angels, The Lancasters, Loot The Body, Mellow Beast

Ghost Frog is from Portland with members:

  • Quinn Schwartz - rhythm guitar, vocals
  • Karl Beheim - lead guitar, synth
  • Archie Heald - bass
  • Evan Leikam - drums

"Astral Arcade" is on digital at Bandcamp and also 12" black vinyl.

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