Ghosts Of Sunset – No Saints In The City

No Saints In The City Album Cover Art

Ghosts Of Sunset – No Saints In The City
Golden Robot Records
Release Date: 14/09/2021
Running Time: 41:40
Review by Beth Jones
9/10

There’s something so comforting about familiarity, isn’t there? Familiar tastes and smells. A go-to song when you need a sonic hug. Your own bed when you arrive home after a trip. It’s a warm fuzzy feeling; nostalgia that puts you in your happy place and takes you back to good days and good times. Ghosts Of Sunset, our subject here today, basically epitomize that nostalgic familiarness, and wrap it up in a cosy bow for the listener. I had the pleasure of reviewing their EP “Headed West” earlier this year, and having the chance to trip down nostalgia lane again by reviewing “No Saints In The City”, their latest release, was something that I couldn’t let pass me by.

In case you didn’t read my EP review (tut tut. Don’t worry, there’s a link at the bottom of this review so you can rectify that) here’s a bit of history. Ghosts Of Sunset are an American 80’s Rock/Hair Metal project featuring singer-songwriter John Merchant, and drummer Todd Long. These two gents have been kicking it in the music business for a long time and were joined on the EP by some classic names. “No Saints In The City” has come about after the roaring success of that EP. And I’m very glad it has. While this isn’t as conceptual as the EP, each song tells a melancholic story of times gone by, but in a happy and upbeat way, that is 100% classic hard rock and hair metal, but that also draws inspiration from 70’s punk and rock ‘n’ roll.

This is an album that not only brings back the sound of the 80’s completely, but demonstrates some fine writing skills, both lyrically and musically. It’s got high octane numbers, and classic ballads. It’s got face melting guitar solos, catchy riffs and hooks, great vocal harmonies, punchy rhythms and gravelly, rocky lead vocals, that tell of long nights fuelled by rock ‘n’ roll! It is impossible not to tap your feet and nod your head along to the sounds, nothing is fussy or overcomplex, and nothing outstays its welcome.

One of my favourite tracks on the album is title track, ‘No Saints In The City’, which was actually the first single released from the album. It’s an up-tempo ballad about the quest for the protagonist to “make it” on the streets of New York City. It’s masterfully put together, and tells a great story, in such a familiar way that you will be singing along by the second line of the chorus. (The elephant in the room with this song, however, is the fade out at the end [*sighs and facepalms*]. Please don’t fade…please, please, please! It irritates the living hell out of me!)

This really is a great album that makes you smile. There’s one weird song opening that I can’t get my head around though – on, ‘Bastards Of The Bowery’. It sounds like an early 2000’s Nokia 3310 ringtone. And since connecting that thought with the opening of this track, I can’t unhear it!

But, if you’re looking for a nostalgia trip done brilliantly well, this album needs to be in your playlist.

‘No Saints In The City’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Tonight
02. No Saints In The City
03. Look Me Up (If You Come Down)
04. If You’re Not Coming Back
05. Queen Of Used To Be
06. Love Ain’t Enough
07. Bastards Of The Bowery
08. Puzzled Heart
09. Tonight You’re OK
10. Us Against Them
11. Something To Believe

LINKS:

LINK TO BETH’S REVIEW OF THE “Headed West EP”

Ghosts Of Sunset Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Ghosts Of Sunset – Headed West EP

Headed West EP Cover Art

Ghosts Of Sunset – Headed West EP
Golden Robot Records
Release Date: 05/02/2021
Running Time: 25:05
Review by Beth Jones
8/10

The 80’s was an interesting decade in a lot of ways. Fashion, the beginning of the tech boom, and some really crazy stuff going on around the world. I was only born 10 days before the 80’s started, so I don’t remember much of it happening at the time, but, thanks to historical archives, the dots can be joined up. One thing I do remember is 80s hair! And the eponymous sound of 80’s Rock and Hair Metal.

Personally, I think some of the best rock and power ballads ever written came out of that era. And, it would seem that American 80’s Rock / Hair metal inspired project, Ghost Of Sunset, agree! The brainchild of singer-songwriter John Merchant, and singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Todd Long, their mission with this debut concept EP, “Headed West,” is to illustrate the story of the rise and fall of a fictional mid-western US rock band, getting lost in the changing music scene of 80’s L.A. They’ve enlisted a host of big names to help them bring this to life, as well, with musicians from the likes of L.A. Guns, RATT, Enuff Znuff, KIX, and Lita Ford, all involved with its creation.

I have to say, it’s a heck of a big story to fit into one 6 track EP! So, have they managed it? Well, let’s find out!

‘Headed West’, the opening, and title track, is an upbeat little number, perfect for a journey down a dusty highway, with the air of excitement and glorious wonderment buzzing along with you. It’s classic Rock ‘n’ Roll. And this theme continues through track 2, ‘Another Rock ‘n’ Roll Show’. This would be the perfect soundtrack to an upbeat advertisement for the ideals of 80’s young America. There’d be fast pans across crowded clubs, full of enough hairspray and back-combing to power the international space station for a good year. Everyone would be dancing, and smiling, and having a great time. Then you’d get the closeup cutaways of pretty girls laughing and pulling funny faces, and handsome guys, lighting up another Marlboro, and swigging from a cool Budweiser, while a killer rock band were giving a huge performance, in the background, on a stage the size of a postage stamp.

Then ‘3 Miles In-Between’ sweeps in. This takes things down a bit, and here we start to see the cracks forming, the yearning and longing for home, and the exhaustion of the punishing touring, and always having to put on your best face, that kept 80’s bands afloat. This is essentially one of those great ballads that I was talking about earlier, and it has a proper guitar solo towards the end of the track, completely in keeping with the soaring solos of the day!

This slowed down theme is continued in track 4, ‘Never Goodbye’. But here, we’re introduced to a new edge within the lyrics – bitterness and disillusionment – ‘You’ll tell them the truth, it’s all just a lie, just say goodnight, never goodbye’ being a perfect example of this. The plastic perfection of this era simply didn’t allow for open negativity.

Track 5, ‘It’s Not Over’, and the final track, ‘Try It For Love’, run through becoming resolute to their fate, with an almost ‘dead behind the eyes’ acceptance, and then finding peace in the realisation that it’s not all just about perceived success, but that, in fact, real success comes from within. It’s in the joy, and love, that just making music brings. Well, that’s how I see it, anyway.

Musically, this epic tale, neatly packaged into 25 minutes, is very pleasing. The songs are all expertly written, with nothing overstated, and skilfully executed by all the players (but then you’d expect this really, with the amount of talent and experience Ghosts Of Sunset has called upon). But for me the thing that makes this a great EP is it does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s everything that says great 80’s Rock / Hair Metal. There’s nothing new here, and there’s no flashy, all singing, all dancing, ‘shiny, shiny’. But there doesn’t need to be. If you’re looking for a new sound, this will not be for you (unless of course you’ve been living in a cave and have never heard any music before, ever!). But, if you, like me, are a sucker for some nostalgia, then this EP will make you smile, a lot!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Headed West
02. Another Rock ‘n’ Roll Show
03. 3 Miles In-Between
04. Never Goodbye
05. It’s Not Over
06. Try It For Love

LINE-UP:
Todd Long – Songwriting, Guitar, Bass, Drums and Backing Vocals
John Merchant – Songwriting, Vocals
+ many guests!

LINKS:

Ghosts Of Sunset Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Spudgun Assassins – Spudgun Assassins EP

Spudgun Assassins EP Cover

Spudgun Assassins – Spudgun Assassins EP
Self-Released
Release Date: 03/05/2018
Running Time: 30:00
Review by Vikkie Richmond
7/10

I can’t resist doing a cheeky review of a band with a silly name; I’m pretty sure that the Spudgun Assassins more than qualifies under that banner. As The Spud Boys (an affectionate term coined by themselves) have been together since 2008, I’m surprised to be seeing an EP from them now, ten years on. However, if only all bands that decide to give it a go had such longevity; in a time of bands quitting left, right and centre after six months to a year because they haven’t ‘made it’, kudos must go to the Spuds for keeping it together.

So, we know they are tenacious, but can they do a tune? Opening track, ‘Believe In Me’ could be something straight out of an 80’s film; with twanging guitar chords and echoing effects, you can imagine the original brat pack (maybe Tom Cruise, or Emilio Estevez) looking moodily at the cameras whilst a collage of rolling video plays behind them, with gelled quiffs and shoulder pads aplenty. It bounced along at a fair old pace, with some vintage vocal harmonies and clipping percussion.

‘Fool When You Need Me’ started off with some trippy effects and harmonics; it wasn’t quite as ‘vintage’ as the first song, but it still had a whiff of ‘classic’ about it and I’m pretty sure I heard some cowbell in there too (which I wholeheartedly and thoroughly encourage). Special mention goes to ’Blind’; a gloriously cheesy affair, with key changes and heart-warming harmonies aplenty.

I have fond memories of the 80’s, so I enjoyed this EP, but it does make me think that I’m missing something; are the Spudgun Assassins some sort of ironic homage to days gone by? I’m not actually sure if that’s what they have intentionally gone for, but that’s sort of how it came across. Glibness aside and tongue firmly out of cheek, I quite liked it because although they’re not really breaking any new ground, this EP is sort of comforting, like shrugging on an old, comfy leather jacket that you’d forgotten you own.

They’re also pretty good musicians (although the intro to ‘Watch Me Fall’ is a bit clunky), so you could do a lot worse than take a listen; do it and let us know what YOU think! I’m going to leave it on repeat for a while … I might go and backcomb my hair, play some air guitar and sing into my hairbrush whilst I’m at it.

TRACK LISTING:
01 Believe In Me
02 Fool When You Need Me
03 Let’s Do It Again
04 What Do You Wish For?
05 Blind
06 Watch Me Fall

LINKS:
http://www.spudgunassassins.co.uk
https://www.facebook.com/spudgunassassins

https://www.youtube.com/user/spudgunassassins

 

Live Pic1

 

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Vikkie ‘Queen of Rock’ Richmond and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.