Those That Stay
From the ashes of the anthemic and fabulously named Smoking the Ghost comes Mike Gruenloh and J.R. Getches' new project, Kurt Ginsberg. Along with Ben Kinser, their latest independent effort, Those That Stay, picks up where Gruenloh and Getches left off with more early '80- inspired, atmospheric, innovative pop-rock. Though chock full of textured arty Brit-pop, Stay has the raw honesty of a very well done homegrown demo. With Getches on the DIY production tip, it's very interesting stuff indeed.
The overall musicality is a high point here. That's what you get when you have seasoned musicians on board, especially if they have played together for a while. Their experience is evident. The writing is alive and well also. It's the vocals that are Stay's strong suit. Gruenloh's melodies and especially the tones are solid. The breathier he gets, the better he sounds. Steeped in heartfelt melancholia, it brings to mind the rich sound and brooding sentiment of a lot of the better New Wave singers. And thanks to the mix, we get to hear it loud and clear — always a plus.
There is a great album inside of this album. One can hear the diamond calling from the rough. Some of the songs wander a bit and belabor what would be really strong hooks. It desperately wants to be a pop record (and it deserves that chance). With pop arrangement, concision is key. They really get it right on the ballad, "So High." Everything about this track is right on the money.
A few songs switch horses in midstream. Although "Got No" and "Witches in the Barn" are quite decent, the more contemplative vibe of both is unfortunately interrupted with an unexpected straight-ahead rock flavor, especially in the verses. Continuity is occasionally taxed when there are several writers in the mix.
On its own, Stay is good. It's an album that pulls you in slowly and grows on you. More than anything else, it begs to reach its assured potential. With some tightening of the reins, and some highend preamps, this thing is gold. (kurtginsberg.com)