The Marked Men – Ghosts
2009 – Dirtnap
First up, I love me some Marked Men. I was turned on to them, embarrassingly enough, by Mitch Clem’s Nothing Nice To Say, which featured their second-latest album, Fix My Brain, in the number-one slot of its Best Albums of 2007 strip. I’m not normally that big on pop-punk or powerpop or whatever it’s called these days, but I did come of age in the mid 90s, which means, I think, that it’s in my DNA. My first show was a pop-punk show (Lagwagon – yeah, yeah; it was Edmonton, Alberta in 1994), and while I was always more into the Dead Kennedys than NOFX, I have had a fondness for The Queers, Mr. T. Experience, early Green Day, The Hi Fives, and a whole bunch of local poppy punky bands. What I mean to say is I don’t consider myself “into” pop punk, but I guess I kind of am. Not that it necessarily matters, since I’m not sure that the Marked Men count as pop punk, but they made me think of that little rant, so there you go.
Anyway, the band’s latest album, Ghosts has the band sounding older than they did before and rougher than they did on Fix My Brain. There aren’t as many insanely catchy hooks, but the driving, uplifting guitar is still there, and I kind of like the move from super hooky to older, messier, (drunker?), and fuzzier. It sounds like these guys have been listening to my husband’s band, actually. They sound muscular and reckless in the best possible way. Where the band’s previous albums are great and poppy and really tuneful, with great vocals and harmonies and good, hooky, catchy song structures, Ghosts is more raw (sorry, I hate that term, but it’s true) and sounds like they worried less about making things sound nice and more about getting their balls up to the wall as much as they possibly could. The whole thing clocks in at 30 minutes for 15 songs, too, so most of the tracks are super simple, super concise, and super compact. Each song sounds like its exploding out of the gate – none of this pussy transition nonsense for these guys!
All in all, I’ve listened to it twice now, and I like it more the second than the third. I’m sure if you watch my last.fm, you’ll see it quickly overtake my current top-listened bands (which are, by the way, inaccurate, but still). I am not the dancing kind, but this album makes me want to dance around my apartment by myself. I wish that there were more bands like this around. So many of the “garage rock” and “pop punk” and “rock ‘n roll” bands out there today have so little heart and guts, it really does hit you like a tonne of bricks when you hear something like this album.
I can only hope these guys make it out to San Francisco soon and play a show or two. Go get this album.