Songs: OHIA

Acts Playing South by Southwest


Ghost Tropic (Secretly Canadian)

Though Ghost Tropic, the new album from Chicago's Songs:OHIA, most certainly does not lack its disarming, tender moments, the likes of which have made Jason Molina a cult figure of sorts in the indie world, their impact is deadened by the currents on which they arrive. What usually makes Molina's songs so memorable is the containment of potential energy -- that unmistakable sense of a storm brewing close by, threatening to explode even if rarely ever doing so. It's that suspense and occasional release, the strength of which is manifest in Molina's voice, menacingly sensitive, at once vulnerable and strong. On Ghost Tropic, he's introduced the storm. The music suggests natural forces waiting to unleash this fury (or not), here a more palpable presence than ever. It clatters into view on the opener "Lightning Risked It All," and never truly exits. Shame that a voice that carries such weight has retreated so far into waverings and whinings that any trace of impending onslaught is completely obliterated, now just a mouse squeaking at the rain. The mood of the music is well set, the Red Red Meat-inspired percussive noise of the first two songs, the effects laid on later tunes "The Ocean's Nerves" and "Not Just a Ghost's Heart," but mood is where it ends. And the fact that the title track and its reprise both largely comprise annoying bird noises doesn't help either. The ending isn't so much an ending as it is a gradual tailing off, a whisper and drone receding into the distance, unremarkably. That's all. (Friday, March 16, Copper Tank Brew Pub, 1am)


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Daniel Johnston
Chicago 2017 (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Feb. 21, 2020

Texas Platters
Kinky Friedman
Resurrection (Record Review)

Rick Weaver, Jan. 3, 2020

More by Christopher Hess
Phases & Stages
Rob Halverson
Second Whirled (Record Review)

Feb. 4, 2005

Phases and Stages
Stratford 4
Love and Distortion (Record Review)

March 14, 2003

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle