The Glow - The Ghosts Are Out... (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Glow

The Ghosts Are Out... (2005)


I'm finding the Glow difficult to describe, and that's a wonderful thing. The Ghosts Are Out... is a collection of tunes just dripping with soul and authenticity, never really settling into an easily identified genre and subtly integrating any number of styles. I'm often reminded of the Specials' Ghost Town in that there's a restrained, nervous energy to the record, full of haunting moments driven by droning organ work and a solid rhythm section. Yet this is indeed more Stax than it is 2-Tone, and the Glow's mix of 60's soul, Nuggets jangle and post-punk feedback is admirable. Think Booker T & the MGs if they were at the end of their rope and the bottom of a bottle of whiskey.

The Ghosts Are Out... is a record that takes its time, and the listener has to play along to get to the core of these songs. To be drawn in solely by the adrenaline-fuelled pre-release download "Hell In A Vase" or assumptions based on Bankshot's past roster is unwise. When the Glow slows things down, as they do for "Northern Lights" or the wounded ballad "5 Pints," Ben Kettleson's rough-hewn vocals can be remarkably expressive. The band offers up some absolutely charming moments over the 12 tracks as well, from a saxophone solo in "I Scare Myself" to the 50's pop stylings of "You Have No Idea" (those "bah-ooo bah-ooo" backing vocals are a trip). Kettleson shows shades of Vic Ruggiero in "Midnight," with its church organ instrumentation and harmonica lead in. That the Glow can be described in terms of ska and reggae musicians while never really playing that style is a credit to the distinctive sound they've created. The only time they come close to that style is in "Son Of A Bitch," but even that's a thin connection.

You don't see this successful a mix of punk, garage and soul very much these days. The band that most immediately comes to mind is the Turpentine Brothers, or maybe the Dead 60s in one of their more dubwise moments, but those are different animals entirely. The Glow's stew of classic influences comes off as truly authentic and moving, but one gets the impression that kids chasing the "modern" sound will have no part of it. It's their loss really, as The Ghosts Are Out... feels more rewarding with each listen.