Galapaghost released its self-produced album I Never Arrived earlier this year. Recorded in Italy, the album shows classical influence in the intricate acoustic guitar work. The layered vocals, creating a Simon & Garfunkel effect, are also notable. What really makes this album shine is how all of the elements come together to create a sound all its own.
The acoustic guitar begins every song off in I Never Arrived, with the exception of “The Secrets our Body Keeps,” which begins with the electric guitar. The beautiful intricate guitar work displayed in this album is stunning. Right off the bat, with “Mazes in the Sky”, listeners get hit with gorgeous acoustic guitar picking that continues to be a theme throughout the album. For example, towards the end, “Goodbye (My Visa Arrived)” pairs brilliant guitar picking with a twangy electric guitar that’s suiting for the somber track.
Another notable feature of the album is the layered vocalization. Beginning with “Mazes in the Sky”, we get introduced to two sets of male vocals. The first is a softer, higher voice and the second is more of a deeper baritone one. Together, they create a classic Simon & Garfunkel sound that proves quite soothing. For many of the other tracks, the deeper, crisper voice stands alone (“Salt Lake CIty”) or immediately enters in with the harmonizing set of vocals (“Science of Lovers”).
Many of the tracks take on a more eerie tone. “Science of Lovers” is a great example of the harmonization taking on a creepier effect. In particular, the melismatic “Ahhh”’s that the harmony intersperses throughout the track adds a certain level of eeriness–think modern day Gregorian chant. “I Never Arrived” also has a similarly brooding sound. Here, the instrumentation makes the track sound darker with the acoustic guitar/ piano combination that is also met with spacey effects. The meditative lyrics of “I Never Arrived” also add an extra level of melancholy, with lyrics like “Can I/ be who I used to?”. The tracks are in great contrast to the few that are abundantly more hopeful, namely “Bloom” and “Somewhere.”
It’s interesting that Galapaghost thought to add “Somewhere” followed by “Bloom,” adding in more cheery tracks close to the end. “Somewhere” starts off the mini-hope train with a more peaceful acoustic guitar and piano combination. “Somewhere” is a very hopeful song, with the chorus repeating “Somewhere/ you’ll arrive/ Somewhere/ the sun will rise.” “Bloom” kicks it up one notch further with a bit of whimsy. For the first half of the track, the lyrics tell a tale of jealousy and pressure, while everyone else is finding deep success. The turning point in the song begins with the lyrics “But I’m happy for you/ Everything around me/ and everyone around me/ is in bloom.” The next verse depicts beautiful moments within the speaker’s own life, leading up to the final lyrical climax of a slower, self-realized repetition of the above chorus.
Overall, I Never Arrived is a calming album, filled with many beautiful elements. I highly recommend checking Galapaghost out. —Krisann Janowitz
(There were a ton of good songs these last two weeks, so I included a lot more than usual in this post. Here’s to a good problem to have: too many tunes!)
1. “Can You Hear It” – Josiah and the Bonnevilles. A piano-led cross between mid-’00s alt-country (The New Amsterdams, I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning) and contemporary indie-pop whose enthusiasm just jumps out of the speakers.
2. “Mammoth” – Brothers Among Wera. Astonishingly, this is the second song I’ve heard in the last few weeks sung from the perspective of a mammoth at the end of the Ice Age: where Rock, Paper, Cynic’s tune was played for laughs, this one’s a bit more serious in its lyrics. However, the music here is an invigorating blast of folk-pop that has arrangements similar to Of Monsters and Men but tempos more similar to Twin Forks. The horns are just excellent here.
3. “The Man That I’ve Become” – Night Drifting. A blast of sunshine in indie-pop form, this tune has a skittering guitar line, jubilant vocals, and a bass line that bounces all over the place. There’s just enough going to be really interesting without getting hectic.
4. “Time Goes On” – Brothers. Sometimes you don’t have to break ground, you just have to nail the best elements of the formula. Brothers’ tune here is a straightforward folk tune with round acoustic guitar tone in a fingerpicked style, shuffle-snare drumming, root-chord bass with some nice fills, and sing-along vocal melodies. It just does everything I’m looking for in a folk tune (there’s even an organ solo, which isn’t strictly necessary for a folk tune but is greatly appreciated). Keep on keepin’ on, Brothers.
5. “Rose Petals” – Kindatheart. Here’s a fun tune: “Rose Petals” has indie-pop sensibilities (delicate vocal and guitar melodies, feathery background vocals) played at power-pop tempos.
6. “Stray Cats” – Robbing Johnny. There’s more vocal attitude packed into this single infectious acoustic-pop song than into some entire albums; John Murrell has impressive charisma and presence.
7. “Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning” – Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams. Swampy, immediate, forceful, neo-gothic gospel that raised my eyebrows. It’s recorded immaculately, arranged dramatically (whoa organ), and performed intensely. It’s a workout, and I was only listening to it.
8. “THOUGHTS” – Gabriele Miracle. This unique tune ties the theatricality of flamenco guitar and vocals to a minimalist percussion line and mesmerizing guitar lines. It’s a wild trip.
9. “One Good Night” – Candy Cigarettes. Somewhere in the corners of my mind is a picture of a forlorn individual standing outside a hotel while the camera pans backwards away to show off the bleak desolation of the parking lot, barely-lit swimming pool, and the run-down building. The shot is fuzzy around the edges, a sympathetic reading of the place that’s seen better days. I immediately thought of this image when I heard this slice-of-life, mid-tempo acoustic jam.
10. “I Do” – Meiko. I’m a sucker for an intimate singer/songwriter tune about marital bliss, and Meiko’s latest single pushes all those buttons. The strings are great as well.
11. “Single Mountain Fiddle” – Jared Hard. Hard has a country-style tone to his baritone and a bit of country structure to his vocal melodies, but the folk-style arrangement is clean, uncluttered, and engaging.
12. “Thirteen Years Astray” – Glider Pilots. Speaking of big, empty spaces, Glider Pilots plays the kind of slow-motion alt-country that Mojave 3 was so good at. This song is heartbreaking without going for any of the big moves–it simply is infused with the majestic sense of sadness that seems so fitting.
13. “Washed Away” – Katmaz. The album’s called Nautical Things, and this relaxing, easygoing acoustic tune certainly has a gentle tidal vibe to it: there’s a slow, rolling vibe evoked from the picking pattern and a hazy, fluid mood coming out of the vocals.
14. “Never Heard Nothin’” – Galapaghost. A confident vocal performance of a resigned, sad melody plays on top of an insistent ukulele strum. The tune doesn’t outstay its welcome, leaving me wanting more.
15. “passing” – Dead Skunk. Lo-fi singer/songwriter material that falls somewhere between the hazy mood of Iron & Wine’s early work and the angular guitar work of The Mountain Goats’ early phase. It’s warm and relatable.
16. “Anyhow Anyway Anyday” – Wholewheat. Lo-fi work with casio that evokes the old-school lo-fi masters: there’s a clear song structure, off-kilter pun-making, and a clear vision that includes the tape hiss as a vital part of the tune. Lo-fi fans should jump at this.
17. “We Fell Apart” – Abby Litman. Evocative singer/songwriter work that hangs on subtle, thoughtful lyrical shifts and pleasingly melancholy guitar fingerpicking.
18. “Kissing Faded (feat. Timid Soul)” – Bohkeh. If Amanaguchi tried to write a chillwave song, it might sound like this neon-colored, glitchy-yet-chill electro piece.
19. “twentythousand” – Exes. Slow-jam electro-indie with delicate vocals and a convincing emotional palette. The smart use of vocals throughout is a highlight.
Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.