Monsoon – Ghost Party (Review)
Ghost Party is the second independent release from the speedy-whirring rock band Monsoon, from Athens, Georgia. Released in February 2022, every sound you hear on the record was created by Sienna Chandler and Joey Kegel (with Chandler’s vocals and lead guitar performance taking center stage and Kegel’s drumming holding down each track). The album is a torrential downpour of distortion counterbalanced by the swift and airy delivery of Chandler fitting of the band’s name. Their next appearance in Charleston is right around the corner at Extra Chill Fest this Saturday, October 1st at the Charleston Pour House.
Ghost Party begins with a deceptively soothing melody before flashing into a great big flurry of distortion, flickering back into its former tranquility before too long. This is the dance that Ghost Party’s opener “Walking Legs” is composed of.
Song 2 is “Third Voice,” a touch and go track that makes a few religious references while slashing forward into a reflective chorus. The core phrase of the track is “Stranger I saw your life flash before your eyes!” This makes for a killer earworm when paired with Chandler’s vocal approach. The second half of this track is a winding road that is paved by lyrics looking back at the past. As the song wraps up, we brace for the title track.
Next up is “Ghost Party”, a track that feels like an actual dinner with ghouls lining each side of the table. Halfway through the track we’re sent spiraling into a laughing sequence and Chandler hits us with the title track’s calling card, “you’re cordially invited to a ghost party.” Following this, the listener is sent through a portal of reverb coated distortion. This disorienting transformation is something Monsoon wears on their sleeve as they take us through the myriad of soundscapes on this project.
“Dont Move” breaks into sugar sweet vocal melodies atop a guitar line that keeps the song moving. It’s one of the poppier tracks to touch the album and as a result it stands out from the washy shoegaze on the album.
“O Brother” flows like a river out of “Dont Move”. The bass line bumps along a stream of guitar and punky vocals from Chandler. As the chorus hits, the track slows down and smacks you in the face with drawn out sounds as if we fell down a waterfall. There’s a little pause and then Chandler comes back in with a high powered vocal performance to close out the track.
Track 6, “Dark Colossus,” is a moment of peace in the middle of the storm. The song reels the listener in with a back and forth guitar line and then takes flight with angelic vocals from Chandler. It only clocks in at a minute but it sets a tone shift that leads into the second half of the album.
“Submission” is the most graceful and airy of the tracks on Ghost Party. As we follow the guitar down the drain, we’re once again guided by fey whispers in the form of Chandler’s voice. This song feels like a magic spell.
“Nightshop” is another immersively enchanting track that draws the listener in with “ooo’s” and “ahh’s.” The punky sound is back with this bewitching track that utilizes chanting and pounding instrumentals to really pick up the pace of the project from the previous two songs. This speed feels effortless for Monsoon as they take little detours to explore deeper into the music.
“Red Blood” follows suit to “Nightshop” in the chanting delivery department. It’s a high energy track that gets the blood pumping. It’s not without signature strung out guitars that have become a part of the sound identity of Monsoon. They’re just really fast this time around.
Track 10, “Pigpen” was my favorite on first listen. By resurrecting an old theme from track 2, “Third Voice,” Monsoon invokes a sense of familiarity, but now everything’s been kicked up to high gear. This remixing of past melodies and phrases strikes similarities with the structure on George Clanton’s Slide.
In “Pigpen”, Monsoon takes us through a short period where the sound starts to die down and we wade through shallow waves of guitar. It’s brief but it’s a nice change of pace. What follows is a full-blown dive into a sea of shoegaze, something we would come to expect from a band called Monsoon.
The final track, “Beetlebee” is a scratchy surf-rock jam with Chandler’s lyrics riddling the side of reeling guitars. The song feels like a montage of all the ideas expressed throughout Ghost Party, as we hear the repeated phrase “Don’t Move.” It ends with a beating pulse of distortion; Chandler lets the gain ring out in rockstar fashion as the album ends on her droning guitar.
Monsoon’s sound on this project feels reminiscent of Sonic Youth, Sleater Kenny, and Pretty Sick. Altogether, this album feels like a cohesive and complete experience when listened front to back. That’s not to say it doesn’t have streamable singles, it certainly does. Tracks like “Dont Move,” “Red Blood,” and “Pigpen” keep up a fast pace and reach memorable choruses quickly. But there’s an arc that the album takes you on as you listen to it in its totality, bringing back old ideas with new deliveries and slowing down at times to appreciate pockets of hypnotic shoegaze.
Listen below, and snag tickets to see them at Extra Chill Fest here.