Any band that invents its own genre, or at the very least comes up with a name for one, deserves some credit in my book. It’s a rare enough thing to hear a band with a completely new and unheard sound, but one that comes armed with a journalist-friendly buzzword to throw around is practically impossible to find. Brooklyn noise punk trio These Are Powers have done both, actually (sort of), dubbing their bizarre, dissonant sound as “ghost punk.” It’s a fun name for what they do, but fairly accurate in description, underlining the spectral and ethereal qualities of their abrasive buzz. And it’s fun to say too.
As original as they are, These Are Powers didn’t materialize from the ether, and do have a sound that draws from influences such as This Heat and Liars, the latter with whom bassist/vocalist Pat Noecker had previously played. This is, by no means, a criticism, as groups such as these come about one to every 19 flute and glockenspiel chiming twee-pop choir these days. We could use more ghost punk `round these parts, and These Are Powers draw their arsenal of eight spastic and dizzying compositions on debut album Terrific Seasons.
Just about every song on Terrific Seasons is some kind of brutish mish-mash of mangled melody, distortion and unsettling sounds, whirling under the guise of pop songwriting, a mask it wears well, but not quite inconspicuously. This is weird stuff, but good stuff, yet nonetheless weird stuff. “Makes Visible” combines beautiful guitar riffs, steady two note basslines, ambient noises and distant, mysterious vocals, sounding gorgeous and gruesome at once. “Cracks in the Lifeline” is a bit catchier, heavy and tribal, reminiscent of early Sonic Youth, while still eager to let out a screech or a yelp when needed. “Little Sisters of Beijing” is far less gentle.
`Ghost punk’ more or less sums up what These Are Powers are all about, but one could go deeper. These are the ghosts of ancestral tribes and the sons of the earth, rather than gunslingers or Victorian widows. This is music for pagan ritual and uninhibited writhing, and, I suppose it needs to be said, `raising the dead.’
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.