Warn the Duke - Ghost Be Gone (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Warn the Duke

Ghost Be Gone (2015)

self-released


Warn the Duke have quite the pedigree. River City Rebels frontman Dan McCool leads a group consisting of Big D & the Kids Table and The Shorebirds members. Defeater’s Jay Maas produced their debut album. Supergroup might be too ambitious, but on Ghost Be Gone, it’s clear that everyone involved is a seasoned veteran.

Warn the Duke’s sound isn’t anything new, but not in a bad way. The collective has embraced a number of bands, genres, and sounds to create an album reminiscent of early 2000s alternative punk. A blending of influences like this usually feels disjointed, but Ghost Be Gone is a fully formed statement. A post punk track like “Cordelia” sits comfortably next to the faster “2050” without missing a beat. McCool's delivery is very similar to that of Sugarcult’s Tim Pagnotta. While it’s hard to imagine Sugarcult effecting the music directly, the lower register they embraced on their last (final?) album Lights Out is all over Ghost's best songs. Sometimes it’s almost distracting, but luckily, McCool knows how to mix it up. Various degrees of Smoke or Fire and even Rancid  appear, depending on the track. The strongest song, single "Harry O'Donnell", shows what Warn the Duke can do when everything is filtered into one punk rock amalgamation. 

Beach Slang comes to mind as a comparison. Not aurally, but in that a cult figure like McCool can find a wider audience many years after first hitting the scene. There is a demand for bands like this. Ones that wear their hearts on their sleeves but not in a way that feels corny or pretentiously cool.

Ghost Be Gone isn’t a great record, but it does demand that you pay a little more attention. Something exists deeper than the surface. Warn the Duke are a band of experienced players quickly finding their footing with each other. They put together an album that is fun to listen and sing along to, something getting rarer these days. There’s no doubt that the right idea could inspire an excellent sophomore release.