ARTIST / BAND: 13ghosts
SONG (MP3): Riverside
ALBUM: The Strangest Colored Lights
FILE UNDER: Indie
LABEL: Skybucket Records
INFO: The core of 13ghosts is duo Brad Armstrong and Buzz Russell, who trade off vocal and songwriting duties throughout the album and whose voices and influences often contrast dramatically. Russell's songs, including "Trodden Way" and "The Trouble With Actual Organs", pair strong pop melodies with spacey atmospherics, recalling bands like the Comas and Modest Mouse. Armstrong has a slightly wider range; in fact, I thought he was two different people at first. He alternates between a low-key, world-weary voice on tracks like "Just Got Dead" and "Song from Down Here" and a louder, brasher rasp on "The Storm" and "Worldshaker". His "Robert J." is the album's centerpiece; perhaps the most straightforward melody and arrangement on Cicada, it's a cautionary tale about a local singer scared of being swallowed up by his music, and it sounds like it could have been written by or about The Band. Armstrong doesn't romanticize or sentimentalize Robert J., but he and Russell clearly identify with him and certainly sympathize with his predicament, especially when 13ghosts' own music threatens to swallow them up.