Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Dimestore Haloes- The Ghosts of Saturday Night

Author's Note: This review was originally published on The Label Project. It can be found here:


Nothing will ever sound as good as the music coming from your first stereo. The sound quality was terrible, but the music coming from those speakers is the most important music of your life. In those early teenage years, your first cassettes and CDs shape your musical taste. These bands help you become who you are, which is why people become so nostalgic for the music of their youth. It’s the kind of experience that every human being has, but it’s almost impossible to capture on record. The Dimestore Haloes have found a way.

The Ghosts of Saturday Night is an album of teenage romance, alcohol fueled nights on the town and reflective laments. A large part of the band’s appeal is their sound, a mixture of Hanoi Rocks style glam and ’77 punk. The music sticks to that early punk ethos. Songs are kept short and simple, with attention to melody. Unlike a lot of so-called punk records, the production is basic. There is no overdubbing, no fancy effects and no cameos from Jay-Z. What you hear is what you get: guitar, bass, drums and a bit of piano thrown in for good measure. A large part of the band’s sound is guitarist Chaz Matthews’ whiskey soaked vocal cords, which give his words a layer of authenticity.

Matthews’ lyrics are what separate The Ghosts of Saturday Night from the pack. His lyrics are complex, evocative and honest. Matthews’ songwriting skills are best represented in “Hot Pink Stereo,” the album’s emotional high point. Matthews perfectly captures the American teenage experience of feeling alone and scared. His line about Joey Ramone’s “dyed black hair, a nest of dreams” is especially poignant. Most modern bands talk about rock n’ roll with a wink and a nod. It’s meant to be ironic, a joke. There is nothing ironic about “Hot Pink Stereo.” Matthews truly believes in rock n’ roll and his earnestness is exalting. If the rest of the album was filler, “Hot Pink Stereo” would save it.

Fortunately, the record consistently delivers. The opening track, “Black Glitter Baby Doll” is an addictive number about summer loving and having a blast. Matthews’ lyrical structure is especially interesting in this song, because he sings the first verse, then the chorus and then repeats the same verse again. This type of structure isn’t used very often in the 2000s, so the song really stands out because of it.

Unfortunately, the album nearly derails with the final track. “Adore Me” is the kind of off key punk tune in the grand tradition of Sid Vicious’ “My Way,” sung by drummer Jimmy Reject. The song isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s placement on the album was a grave mistake. The song should have been placed in the beginning of the record, where it could be easily skipped. As the final track, it disrupts the flow of the album and leaves a bad taste in the listener’s mouth.

Despite this flaw, The Ghosts of Saturday Night is full of everything that makes punk rock great. The band broke up shortly after recording this record, and it is a fitting swan song.

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