Dirty Ghosts



Back in the ’90s, Toronto expat Allyson Baker was sneaking into Dwarves shows and frequenting mosh pits before she was barely out of junior high; by the age of 17, she was playing guitar for some of Toronto’s most notorious punk and hardcore bands (Teen Crud Combo R.I.P.). Yet, for all her apparent fearlessness, Baker is very much haunted by forces beyond her control. Dirty Ghosts may be her new band, but it’s the five-years-in-the-making product of a habit she just can’t quit, a sound and vision that—despite numerous obstacles along the way-just had to be unleashed.

True to their name, Dirty Ghosts rose from the ashes of San Francisco sludge-blues combo Parchman Farm in 2006; as an antidote to that band’s wall of squall, Baker and fellow Parchman Farm exile Carson Binks (another Toronto expat) launched Dirty Ghosts as a stripped-down duo, writing rhythmically driven new songs built around intricate drum loops pieced together by Aesop Rock. And as if this relaxed, more experimental ethic wasn’t a radical enough shift for these life-long punk-rockers, for the first time in her musical career, Baker was forced to add “vocalist” to her resumé.

Initially, the gambit paid off—Dirty Ghosts’ earliest efforts fused Baker and Bink’s deep-seated love of ’60s funk and bluesy, psychedelic rock with a more modernist, mechanized sheen, while Baker’s newfound voice projected a striking balance of streetwise attitude and affecting vulnerability. Though Baker says she was “completely out of touch with what was going on in music at the time,” Dirty Ghosts’ mix of grit and glitz aligned favorably with that of au courant buzz bands like The Kills and Sleigh Bells, while hearkening back to indie rock’s most dynamic duo, Royal Trux. In 2009, an early recording of the 21st-blaxploitation groover Battle Slang even got the band some notice on Pitchfork and other national music sites.

However, the sudden departure of Binks in 2011 (to join Oakland-based stoner-metal behemoths Saviours) inspired Baker to rethink, rebuild and re-record the songs and, with the help of a drummer, transform Dirty Ghosts’ bedroom beat-box experiments into stage-ready rockers. In sharp contrast to the skull-crushing assault of her previous groups, Dirty Ghosts are more about putting the disco into discord, using everything from dubby funk (Shout It In) to minimalist electro (Steamboat to Concord) to vintage Van Halen-esque contorto-riffs (19 in ‘71) as means to showcase the emotional intensity of Baker’s voice.

And, as this dead-cool debut ultimately proves, good things happen when you refuse to give up the ghost.

Tracklisting for Metal Moon

1. Ropes That Way
2. Shout It In
3. Surround The Controls
4. Battle Slang
5. No Video
6. Katana Rock
7. 19 in ’71
8. Steamboat to Concord
9. Pretty Face
10. Beast Size

Upcoming Tour Dates

1/24 – Casanova – San Francisco, CA (DJ SET)
2/23 – Noise Pop Festival – Brick and Mortar – San Francisco, CA
2/24 – Bootleg Theater – Los Angeles
2/25 – Bar Pink – San Diego, CA
2/26 – Detroit Bar – Costa Mesa, CA

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