Artist: Jon Russelburg (IndieGoGo)
Label: Bad Apple Records
Release Date: 8/1/13
Reviewer: Carter Fraser
- Queen Mary
- The Capitol
- Cold Bones
- My Love, My Love
Jon Russelburg’s debut EP Ghost is a nice little gem from Bad Apple Records. The Kentucky native prides himself on his modern indie rock sound and 90’s sensibilities, and they certainly show on this record. Russelburg toes the line between singer/songwriter and indie rock, tending to fall more into a mellow slowcore-esque rock on most tracks, most specifically the three middle songs. On songs like the thoroughly excellent “The Capitol” Russelburg sounds very much like an early Pedro the Lion without the murky production. David Bazan’s influence is all over this record, down to the hyper-realistic and brutal lyricism. “Cold Bones” is a great example of this, with the speaker’s confession “it’s long nights with my wife / but I don’t love her anymore / no I’m sure that I’m sure that I don’t love her anymore” being among the blunt yet honest lines to be found on Ghost. The afore mentioned track could even have a slight Manchester Orchestra vibe, although it’s the only song such could really be said of.
While the entire EP is a tad haunting, opener “Queen Mary” is especially so, with its eerie pianos and hushed vocals, almost reminiscent of more dramatic slowcore artists such as Carissa’s Wierd. Russelburg’s crisp but pained voice against the darker backdrop adds to the tension of the EP, though not so much as to make Ghost a challenging listen. There’s a distinctly southern quality to Russelburg’s voice, but it lacks the slight piercing vibe that other similar vocalists occasionally show. The song “Ghost” is cool enough to draw a Sun Kil Moon comparison with its calm yet driving riff and seemingly soothing yet subtextually dark mood. The acoustic closer “My Love, My Love” features a chord progression similar to that on Bon Iver’s “Re: Stacks” and finishes the EP out nicely.
Overall: Jon Russelburg’s affinity for ghost imagery shouldn’t make him a ghost on people’s “to check out” lists this fall—his debut EP is an accomplished piece for those interested in downtempo indie rock. Pedro the Lion fans should especially check this one out.
RIYL: Pedro the Lion, Honest Abe, Carissa’s Wierd, Jeremy Enigk, Starflyer 59 (Old-era)