While the Ghost Ease has nailed the mono-emotional guitar riff on its new self-titled release, the emotion that's missing most is urgency. The vocals of this fairly new yet buzzed-over three-piece will resonate for fans of Cat Power, but overall, the album has blank spots between the off-rhythm drum patterns and long guitar sessions. What this all adds up to is eight songs that are hard to differentiate between, and an album better listened to straight through.
There's substance in singer Jem Marie's drawn-out lyrics, but bassist Fabi Reyna and drummer Nsyai Matingou never quite seem to match her potential. The band delivers Portland-tinged garage rock, made semi-palatable by a vague sense of grittiness. At the same time, the slow melodies create a sense of folksiness that makes the band accessible to a completely different set of ears. No wonder their PDX Pop Now set this year drew such acclaim.
Still, this is a set of songs meant for the live setting. The tracks lose the garage rock feel at regular volume, but when turned way up, the predictable riffs and rhythms reveal the trio's true power. The Ghost Ease is a band meant to be appreciated live, cranked to level 10—and not a notch less.