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Ghost

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Album Review

Ben Cooper has a few names he works under; as Radical Face, he creates an album that's possibly one of the best debut takes on whatever the word Americana is supposed to represent in the 21st century. But instead of dour re-creations of music that even Uncle Tupelo would have rejected, Ghost is something that lives up to its name — a strange, murky presence that sometimes is not entirely there, but in the best, most suggestive way. Cooper's singing is understated but sweetly calming, a gentle glaze that recalls the not-quite-shoegaze of many early-'90s U.S. acts that rejected grunge and lo-fi for another approach. Meanwhile, the music is equally cool but hardly cold, a carefully detailed combination of instrumentation that lightly references everything from late-'60s Beach Boys to late-'90s Mogwai in its cinematic scope — banjos sit well against building drums, strings suddenly appear to add piercing emphasis, and there's a definite hint here and there of Dave Fridmann's full-on widescreen production style on songs like "Glory." Yet even more strikingly, there's a real joy that suffuses much of the record, as can be heard on the chorus of "Welcome Home." After so much post-Polyphonic Spree "uplifting" chorale hash infesting NPR-ized rock & roll, the gentle but still exultant beauty here is something special, a blend of vocals, banjo, handclaps and piano that sounds all the better for being a carefully arranged collage. The album's downside is a certain sameness in sound that gets the better of it toward the end — some songs like "Along the Road" would almost work better separately than in context as a result — but Ghost is a promising start for Cooper's latest incarnation.

Customer Reviews

One of the best from the past 4 years

As usual it takes an amazing album to get people to write their first review. This CD did it for me. I have recommended this CD to people who like Jose Gonzalez, Alexi Murdoch, Elliott Smith, and Tom McRae, amonst others. The "Album of year" tag seems to be used too much on itunes review to mean anything. People seem to just buy two CD's that they saw advertised on MTV and call one of them the best of 2007, which might persuade some unlucky soul to purchase it. However, this year I have no listened to close to 75 albums from Indie to rock to rap to electronic, and this is my clear number 1. Since I gave each song on this album, except “Winter is coming”, 5 stars on iTunes (out of my 14,000+ songs, I only have about 350 5-star songs, so that actually means something), there is no clear way to distinguish between which ten 5-star songs. So I am going to rank each song in order of my preference instead of rating each song separately. I will also add my play counts. 1. Welcome Home (91) – *Single* A clear highlight, as I am sure almost everyone can agree. It is too hard to describe why it is so good, and everyone already knows that it is THAT good, so a detailed description is not necessary. I just love the chorus and the thigh slapping that serves as the percussion. The only other comment I can think of, is that I believe if you ask anyone to listen to this song, they WILL like it, regardless of their musical taste. 2. Glory (72) – *Single* An absolute Epic of a song. I think this song is neck and neck with "Welcome Home" as the two standouts from this album. When the sound trails off at the very end, I am speechless every time. The chorus is on par with, if not better than, the “Welcome Home” chorus. The structure of this song is so creative because instead of the routine Verse 1 – Chorus – Verse 2 – Chorus, Cooper just keeps on expanding the song in depth with more instruments and more pretty sounds. I think of it as having 8 separate parts a) The marching, piano, and drum intro b) First verse c) Sole chorus d) Second verse e) Beautiful strings f) Vocals added (but not a verse) g) Beautiful Ahhhh-ahhhh ahhh h) Crashing drum/cymbal outro 3. Along The Road (59) – Absolutely gorgeous music. Mainly piano driven where drums and an ambient background stars about half way through. You can hear the creaking wood throughout the whole song, which gives it added depth. I think this song would work well as a closer. I wish this song went on a bit longer because just when it gets to its best, it stops and the last minute is just a violin, and what not, closing out the song. 4. Wrapped In Piano Strings (58) – *Single* A very catchy and upbeat song. After Glory and Welcome Home, as well as most of Electric President’s debut, Cooper once again proves that he has the knack for creating catchy choruses with only a few actual English words – mainly just ahhhh’s and ohhhhh’s. I like this song, but I don’t think it has that much tune, which is one of the reasons I love “Along the road” so much more. 5. Haunted (49) – Quite a haunting little tune at the beginning. I actually find the first half quite boring now, but the second half saves it. After the piano solo kicks in and Ben Cooper starts use his limited voice, to its maximum potential it becomes immense. 6. Asleep On a Train (55) – A perfect opener as it remains mysterious to what exactly is about to come. It is just a repetitive little tune with Ben Cooper subtly humming along. It feeds amazingly into the wind chimes for the next song. 7. Homesick (53) – A pretty little closer that kind of serves as a cool-down after experiencing an amazing 50 minutes of music. In comparison to the rest of the songs on the album, the simplicity of this song makes it seem like a demo or a b-side. I actually think that this songs feels out of place on the album, but I still like it enough to rank it 7th. 8. Sleepwalking (57) – This one seems to be quite underrated by everyone. This actually has one of the nicest tunes on the whole album and the steady drum keeps the song moving along nicely. But yet again in the context of the rest of the CD it is “nothing new”, so it is overlooked because of the brilliant “Welcome Home”. 9. The strangest things (49) – I feel that this song should be cut down a bit in length. The quiet parts drag on quite a while and are not that interesting to listen to. The ending makes up for it a bit, as once again Ben Cooper builds up a song into a dramatic climax. 10. Let the River In (50) – I feel sorry for this song. It was unfortunately placed in between my favorite songs on the album so whenever I am listening to it, I am still thinking about how great “Welcome Home” is for the first half of it, and during the second half I am looking forward to “Glory”. This song is too similar to the rest of the songs on the album without much to make it stand out on its own. 11. Winter Is Coming (45) – It doesn’t deserve to be thrown to the bottom of the list because I like this song, (which shows how good this album actually is) but something had to be 11th. It is a much needed upbeat track to bring the slow and beautiful middle part of the album back up to speed. But I just don’t think it is quite as melodic as the rest of the songs on the album and is the one song that I wouldn’t mind cutting. Anyway, this album is amazing and I hope I don’t get bored of it before the end of the year. It is so beautiful and I keep on finding myself coming back to it, even with lots of other new CD’s that I own that I haven’t listened to yet. I think this will actually end up on quite a few top 50 lists at the end of the year but it will unfortunately not receive all of the plaudits that it truely deserves, and will therefore be forgotten by everyone in a few years time. Those of you lucky enough to be reading these reviews, make sure you don't miss out on this gem of an album. ***** 5 Stars *****. I recommend Tom McRae - Just Like Blood.

Greatest in a long while

Wow. Just listen to Welcome Home, and instantly you are hooked. Ben Cooper is a musical mastermind when it comes to crafting songs. Not surprising since this follows in the wake of Electric President's highly praised self titled release. People who liked Electric President will like this album even though this is a little less electronica than the aforementioned. Too bad the ratings only go to 5.

Unbelieveable

Unbelievable. Absolutely incredible. This is so beautifully origninal, Ben Cooper is an artist; This album is art. Groundbreaking...

Biography

Born: Jacksonville Beach, FL

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Jacksonville Beach, Florida-based Radical Face is primarily Ben Cooper, who is also one half of similar quiet-is-the-new-loud duo Electric President. Both have inked deals with German label Morr Music. Highlighted with light orchestral flourishes and acoustic guitar, Radical Face's early recordings included an EP and an album titled The Junkyard Chandelier. In March 2007 Morr issued Ghost, a concept album about houses retaining memories. In 2011, The Family Tree Presents: The Roots began...
Full Bio