Ghosts and Vodka Precious Blood

Folks not yet convinced of Chicago's distinction as the current centre of the progressive rock universe ought to be bumped soundly off the fence of complacency by this stellar debut full-length release from Ghosts and Vodka. Powerful yet intricate guitar work, crafty time signatures and busy, dead-on percussion typify this crown of instrumental gems, each of them played out with the kind of white-knuckle performance savvy usually reserved for veteran jazz ensembles. The band lays off the hard stuff here and there, offering up glimpses of something softer and more caressing. For the most part, though, Ghosts and Vodka showcases their performance competency amid the structured chaos of speed and clock-busting time signatures. The band decided to forego the usual packaging routine, too, opting instead for a series of brilliant, colourful cards illustrated by artist Jeff Esterby and boasting unlikely song notes and ridiculous prose like, "I want to salt your poop and wear it on my face like a beard." Childish, sure, but also kind of funny, in a Tom Green sort of way. (Sixgunlover)