THE AUGHTS have seen no shortage of bands cranking out sunny pop songs obscured by brittle (un)production and sheets of reverb. The recipe is simple: Kick out some two-minute hook-laden jams and record them to sound as if they're being played through a '50s transistor radio—and damn it if it doesn't feel just right.
It sure feels that way for Portland's Ghost Animal. Michael Avishay and Marisa Rowland have been making sweet, sweet noise together for the past year, although the seed was planted some time before that. "Mostly it was just me being drunk and bored and recording most of the day," explains Avishay, coincidentally over a slightly lo-fi phone connection.
Those drunken sessions produced a handful of recordings that have made their way onto various 7-inches and cassettes. Ghost Animal's latest, the "In Your Room" 7-inch, is filled with buzzing guitars and echoed vocals, and while there is the occasional, not-so-subtle nod to the Jesus and Mary Chain, there's also an underlying bravado—Ghost Animals owns these songs. But the beauty of the duo's music is its moodiness—not necessarily the moods of the songs themselves, but rather the bipolar nature in which one song jumps to the next.
These days the two members of Ghost Animal write songs together. Avishay credits Rowland for bringing more emotional maturity and pop sensibilities to the new material. While Rowland grew up on a steady diet of British Invasion, she didn't seem destined to play in a rock band. "My sister was the musical one, I was more into sports," Rowland says.
"She was too busy playing soccer and going to debutante balls," Avishay jabs.
Rowland's Mo Tucker-esque snare slaps add to Ghost Animal's ramshackle charm, and the band is already set to release another pair of 7-inches this year, including "A Ceremony," which Avishay describes as darker. But don't expect this mood to last for long. The sun will be here before you know it.