Ghost of the West is an interesting concept EP. The four-song collection from German duo no:carrier features covers of California-friendly songs presented in what the band describes as electro pop noir. It all makes perfect sense once “The Boys of Summer” starts rolling to open up the EP. Slow and deeply melancholy, the no:carrier version sounds like a collaboration between Matt Johnson’s The The and Depeche Mode. It’s a much different reading than The Atari’s near-carbon copy version from 2003.
However, a more dramatic take doesn’t necessarily make it more interesting. A tempo and even style change can do wonders (see Save Ferris’ “Come on Eileen), but ultimately the song has to be able to breathe. Haunting and sonically pleasing, “The Boys of Summer,” fails to inspire.
“California,” a cover of Belinda Carlisle’s 1999 tune actually sounds more like the original, yet is arguably a better execution. Keeping Carlisle’s feel, no:carrier turn the emotional dials up in all the right places accomplishing what “The Boys of Summer” doesn’t.
Similarly, they don’t reinvent the wheel with Tony Carey’s “Room With a View,” but like “California,” add some unique flavoring while staying faithful to the song. The EP closes with the traditional Irish song “She Moved Through the Fair,” which is a nice blend of Celtic sensibilities and no:carrier’s dark electronic style. A cool keyboard bit in the bridge, plus a big synthy blast at the end, makes it the best song on the EP.
The group, comprised of Chris Wirsig and Cynthia Wechselberger, was formed in Germany, but now Wirsig lives in the Bay Area. They alternate vocal duties with Wirsig taking “Summer” and “View,” while Wechelberger handles the other two tracks. It might have been more interesting had they switched it up.
7 Stars out of 10
PF Wilson has been writing about music, TV, radio, and movies for over 20 years. He has also written about sports, business, and politics with his work appearing in Cincinnati CityBeat, The Houston Press, Cleveland Scene, Cincinnati Magazine, Cincy Magazine, Atomic Ranch, and many more. Check out his podcast PF’s Tape Recorder available from Podbean or in iTunes.