Tag Archives: Keith Boyd

Cool Ghouls w/ Bad Vibes at the Whistle Stop

 

by Keith Boyd

Sometimes it pays to know a bit about a band you’re going to see. I could have avoided any number bruised body parts and ringing ear sessions by following that advice. That being said, what’s better or more thrilling than a happy accident? Such was the situation I found myself in last night at local dive bar outpost and SD treasure, The Whistle Stop. I hadn’t heard either band before but I had a vague notion that Cool Ghouls were a part of the amazing, 60’s inflected music scene in San Francisco. Well, they are and an utterly delightful accident seeing them it was indeed!

First up were San Diego band Bad Vibes. I dug their meaty, full throttle approach to things. There was a definite whiff of Doors wafting through their sound. Also what I would characterize as Biker bar Pink Floyd. I’m not saying that their sound was just derivative and lacked any originality though. Far from it! Their tunes were dynamic with sudden pivots in rhythm and tonality to keep the ear engaged. Great guitar playing from both of the players and special mention must be made of the relentlessly blissful stage presence and power of the bass player. He was a hair dervish! For nearly an hour while dancing, leaping and gyrating, his playing was completely solid. I like the band’s name and while I get where they’re coming from (a darkish, rocked up Nick Cave zone) I think they pump out just as many good vibes as “Bad” ones!

What can I say about headliners, Cool Ghouls? I was instantly won over by their sound. It was all chiming, jet plane guitars, limber yet grounded bass and their secret weapon? Beautiful 3 part harmonies. I for one, simply don’t hear vocals done like this in a “Rock” idiom very often. Pop music is replete with backup singers on stage and in studios. This wasn’t that. It was three equally adept singers taking the turns at the lead while the others blended seamlessly. At times recalling the soaring sound of The Byrds at their most heart-warming, Cool Ghouls made a beautiful noise.

I may be wrong about this but according to my observations and calculations the (contemporary) Grandaddies of the SF Psych soaked sound are Wooden Shijps. I’m sure there are others who were (according to whomever) first, different, more original or better but when I heard Wooden Shijps several years ago I thought to myself, “Finally the kids are getting weird again!”. And while many of these bands are excellent they tend to skew towards the noisier Punk infused side of the garage. Cool Ghouls plays it much smarter. They can rock for sure! However, they seem to have an instinctual grasp of dynamics and hence they paint with a very broad sonic brush. They have tunes from all over the spectrum and ply them all with equal skill.  After the gig I bought their (excellent) newest album, A SWIRLING FIRE BURNING THROUGH THE RYE and having basically had it on locked repeat all day have recognized several of the selections they played. One song that, while not on the album, was an instant favorite was the Green Tambourine-esque, The Creature that I Am.

If you are looking for some of the echoes that flow through their sound think The (aforementioned) Byrds, early Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service and a dash of Electric Prunes, Blues Magoos and Moby Grape. Please don’t mistake these signifiers as some sort of jumbled, grab bag of tropes and put ons. Cool Ghouls might be rooted in another era but they are flowering in this one.

A special thanks must be given to my fellow LAME OLD COP ON A NIGHT OUT-PMK. In heaven, instead of angel wings he will receive a Gold-Chain and Cheetah tunic!

High Mountain Tempel – Gnosis

 
High Mountain Tempel - Gnosis
High Mountain Tempel – Gnosis

It’s been a long gestation on the quivering meat wheel of creation. In the dust and stones of a dry riverbed seeds cracked, opening themselves to any deluge. When the flood waters finally came everything became the Mud of Chaos. Now swollen with water the seed burst forth with roots and tendrils seeking both Earth and Sun. High Mountain Tempel Rising! “

Gnosis” is the fifth release from these seekers of sonic dissolve and drift. Tapping into their deep love of the Pacific, the Sierras, the Sacred Freeway Off-Ramps and the Emerald Tablets of California Mythology they have carved out new roads and new paths leaving Golden Ashes to light the way.

Tempel Monks Eric Nielsen and Keith Boyd welcomed many honored pilgrims for this voyage in sound and time. Kawabata Makota and Hiroshi Higashi from the impeccable Acid Mothers Temple joined in providing bowed guitars and swirling, hymnal synth lines. Alpha-Crone and Source Family Dragon Lady Isis Aquarian beamed in from Hawaii to breathe the Father Yod Family lineage into our hearts and minds. Charles Curtis blessed us with spacious and gigantic piano tones. Bruce Mckenzie, the Sage from high atop Mount Washington was as always the Koan Master and Alchemist gleaming gold amidst the ruins and molding clay into Golems. Leila Dear brought her artistic mastery, informed by the esoteric and geometric to Square the Circle for the cover art.

It was a wonderful collaboration spanning time, distance and space. This distillation we offer up with the hope of pleasing and challenging the listener. Listen deeply. Go FURTHUR.

Traveling Monks Bruce McKenzie – Sings on Track 1 and plays Recorder on Track 4 Charles Curtis – Plays Piano on track 3 Isis Aquarian – Alpha Crone Incantations on Track 3 Makoto Kawabata – Bows Guitar on Track 4 Hiroshi Higashi – Plays Synth on Track 5

Mixed by Bruce McKenzie, Artwork by Leila Dear, Photo and Layout By Krista Nielsen, Mastered by Kenseth Thibideau Recorded in the Upper Chamber of The High Mountain Tempel Oceanic Lodge and the Leper Colonies of Arrakis Dedicated to The Ancestors, Pacific Ocean Mineral Spirits, The Offspring of the Sun, the Waders of the Slipstream, All Blessed Journeymen, John Muir riding the lightning, high above the world and in memory of Hetch Hetchy.