Believe it or not, every sound in the above track was made by one guy in a room. Well, it was probably several different rooms, basements and closets, with a thrifter’s crate of instruments like a banjitar.
Ryan Henry Cox is an underground mad scientist in the local music scene. He just hit his early 30’s, but has been making music for at least half that time. He’s lived in the metro Detroit area all his life, having contributed lead vocals, guitar and songwriting to previous bands like The Red Rocks and The Good Things. The Good Things were essentially a Halley’s Comet when it came to live appearances, and the lineup constantly shifted around Cox.
Which brings us to These Are My Ghosts. In the midst of a years-long stint of The Good Things being absent from your airwaves or your stages, Cox began work on an ambitious and imaginative series of concept albums, essentially a song-cycle rendered into musical stories or chorus-threaded versions of old time radio serials.
The first is titled “Defeats The Porpoise, or The Tale of Johnny and the Indomitable Sea Monster.” This ‘novelette’ album contains more than 20 songs where two narrators tell a quasi-quixotic story about a boy waking up from a coma to find that the world has been half-eaten by a gargantuan mammal. But it’s imagined through a sort of folk-pop stomp, as an absurdist Spaghetti-Western island fantasy.
“I’d Rather Just Die” is a David-vs-Goliath tale, where the hero emotionally writhes through a coming-of-age journey towards confronting a proverbial Goliath, in this case a porpoise. An infectious drum beat starts to march under Sergio Leone-esque whistles and layered guitars, one a delicate ukulele, the other a crunchier guitar growl. Cox basically gives you an eclectic barber shop quartet version of his vocals, re-recording himself four (or more) times in different registers, two of them playfully singing very low and very high to curtain his mid-high rustbelt warble. Each syllable is slapped with a bit of 50’s-throwback rock reverb. And then, at those catchy refrains, he lets that exuberant banjitar erupt with an exhilarating riff.
And so, with this single, Cox demonstrates how These Are My Ghosts bridges that Morricone vibe to a bit of the 70’s glam-rock riff-heavy style of T. Rex. I’ve listened to it 15 times already, and I’m eager to hear what comes next. This is the first single of a series of releases that Cox plans through 2019, leading up to the official unveiling of the full musical storybook.
When Cox isn’t in his laboratory, he’s a writer and tutor as well as occasional soccer coach. You can download this single for free at These Are My Ghosts Bandcamp and stay tuned for new music on Facebook.