Galapaghost – Our Lost Generation (Galapaghost, 2009)
Galapaghost is multi-instrumentalist Casey Chandler alone with his studio craft (and not to be confused with the Galapaghost Trio). Like most “bands” assembled through overdubbing, there’s a charming insularity born of one set of hands repeatedly tugging on the beat. Chandler’s assemblages are enchanting, particularly how the emotions of his vocals – lead and harmonies – interact with his ukulele. Chandler’s four-string opens the album with harp-like plucked notes before turning to strumming alongside drums, bass and guitar; his vocal slides from note to note like a trombone, punctuated with a few Buddy Holly-styled hiccups. His combination of ukulele and falsetto sidesteps the early twentieth-century vibrato of Tiny Tim, though a few excursions into his top end suggest the delicacy of Art Garfunkel, the brooding of Del Shannon and the bittersweetness of Neil Young. The toy-like tone of the ukulele lends innocence to Chandler’s music, even when his vocals are sorrowful or bereft. The contrast of chipper strings, chimes and tambourine with Chandler’s forlorn vocalizations is emphasized by his productions, thoughtfully layering the instruments and voices, and often introducing them serially as the song builds. Chandler released Our Lost Generation at the end of 2009, and followed with another EP, Neptunes, only a few months later; he’ll soon relocate from upstate New York to Austin where he’ll put together a band. Let’s hope he can guide like-minded musicians to the same magic results he creates by himself in the studio.