Those of you from Seattle (and possibly from elsewhere) may remember a band named Juno. Juno was filled with talent (Death Cab fans may remember that Nick Harmer and Jason McGerr lent their talents to Juno, and I believe Nate Mendel did, as well?) – but frontman former pro-snowboarder Arlie Carstens was often in the spotlight, perhaps because he is undoubtedly one of the most compelling men alive. Don’t believe me? Go to Juno’s website and read his journal from their tour of Japan, google his name and read one of the articles about his miraculous recovery from a snowboarding accident that should have left him paralyzed – or listen to songs from Juno, like “Venus On 9th Street” (download) or “Help Is On The Way” (download).
With their triumvirate of intense guitars and Arlie’s haunting vocals, Juno had a large, cult-ish following – and unfortunately, along with that, quite a bit of tensions within the band. Many tears moistened the cheeks of music snobs everywhere when Juno announced in 2004 that they would go on hiatus for an undetermined amount of time.
Now, those tears can finally begin to dry with the emergence of Ghost Wars, Carstens’ newest project. The aesthetic concept is similar to that of Juno’s, but this is not the same music rehashed differently. “Lay Down Your Weapons” (download) and “Destroyed, The Sword Of St. Michael” (download) feature piano (and female vocals on “Destroyed…”), and are slow and smooth. “Waves Of Blood” (download) is the only song that may hint at Carsten’s past musical projects.
The future of Ghost Wars is hard to predict – once again, the project is rife with talent (I won’t even bother mentioning all the names invovled because there are so many), but Carstens has also been accepted to a creative writing program at “a grad school in New York” (and New York will have him, let me tell you!), though he says that he’d like to see where Ghost Wars takes him. Either way, it seems this man is bound for greatness.
If you’ve been paying attention to music at all within the past year and a half, you’ve hopefully heard of Wolf Parade – Montreal’s Sub Pop darlings who Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock pimped whole-heartedly. Not remotely coincidentally, I saw them open a secret Modest Mouse show at Webster Hall in 2004, and was completely blown away. Their 2005 full-length, Apologies To The Queen Mary, was in my top three of the year. If you missed the boat on this one, listen to “Grounds For Divorce” (download) and “Dinner Bells” (download) and be amazed – or, even better, just go get the album.
Vocalist Spencer Krug, who is also involved with Frog Eyes (who I’ve admittedly never heard), is clearly no stranger to music. His other-other project, Sunset Rubdown, has an EP that is, to haplessly use a horriffic word for a good release – promising.
Obviously, there’s a bit of Wolf Parade-ness in “Three Colours II” (download) and “A Day In The Graveyard II” (download), but honestly, I’d almost say there’s a bit of Animal Collective somewhere in there, (especially in “Three Colours”), and a bit of something I can’t quite put my finger on (in a good way).
I don’t know anything more, but I’ll end this by saying: this is some good shit.