Wonderfully Dark, Hypnotic Shoegaze From New Age Healers On ‘Ghosts’
Like, say, pop-punk, one could argue that shoegaze is a sound that was well and truly explored back in the ’90s, well after the initial explosion and roots of the genre many years before that. But do waves of droning, swirling psychedelic guitar ever really get old, especially when they’re embracing indelible melodies and a driving beat that’s well-anchored on terra firma? I think not.
Seattle’s Owen Murphy, perhaps best known as the driving force of the post-punk bands Mickey Finn and Chupa Cabra and sometimes broadcast sparring partner of Ben Weasel (there’s the punk-pop connection), has returned to making music after a 15-year sabbatical via the one-man studio band New Age Healers, which takes its name not from mystical wispiness ,but from the cynical historical footnote that Bosnian Serb war criminal Radovan Karadzic hid in plain sight by adopting that disguise.
Murphy’s touchstones are obvious throughout these 10 tracks, heavy on the Jesus and Mary Chain, Spacemen 3/Spiritualized, and Love and Rockets. But on standout tracks such as “Lost Your Mind,” “There’s No Tomorrow” and “Shadows vs. Los Angeles,” he puts his own unique and of-the-moment twist on things via lyrics that often summon the looming menace of Big Brother in this digital era, a specter that makes Cold War paranoia seem quaint in comparison, while melodies as strong as those in “Hey, Hey, Hey, Yeah, Yeah Song” will win the day any time.