“Paper Ghosts” is the full-length debut release from LA-based indie rock trio, Armada. Cody Page (lead vocals/guitar), Eddie Core (drums) and Jeremy Gruber (bass/keyboards) seamlessly blend formal education with ragged inspirational bursts and backgrounds in rock, folk, and a bit of jazz. The result is a California masterpiece founded on truthfulness and a special brand of rock & roll urgency.
“Paper Ghosts” was written entirely by Armada and showcases aching, powerful vocals peppered with bouncy instrumentation and unique arrangements. The band teamed up with producer Mike Boden (who has worked with the likes of Journey, Tom Waits) to build a magnetic record that blends mainstream accessibility with the kind of honesty that defines big influencers Queens of the Stone Age, Wilco and Spoon.
The first single off “Paper Ghosts” is an upbeat banger called “Badge and Gun.” Filled with fuzzed-out guitars, shaky drum grumbles, and Page’s restless vocals, the track delivers satisfying thump amidst calculated chaos. Album opener “Ghost of Illinois,” by comparison, is stark and sudden, tipping its hat to the early 90′s with skin-tight rhythmic exchanges that run up against big, open choruses. Page’s alluringly off-balance vocal complements the sharpness of these angles with charm and swagger. The record takes a darker turn with the danceable “Callanwolde.” Verses move at a thoughtful pace before exploding into riff sections that uncover the song’s dangerous emotional territory. “Beacon St” continues down that introspective road, but switches the season to summer with plunky guitars, keyboards, and a honey-on-asphalt arrangement that cushions Page’s crushed-charcoal vocal treatment. The lyrics are a haunting representation of a love you can’t leave behind: “every time that neon light ignites on Beacon Street, every time the war is on the news… my god I know that they’ll be no forgetting you.” A shining track on an already stellar debut LP is a study on tension and release called “Pick Up The Pieces.” It flirts with U2-style shimmer with well-organized percussion before slow-burning the hook into a giant outro a la Radiohead’s The Bends. The entire band shines on this effervescent, radio-ready track, from smooth vocals with a hint of grit, to barely obedient guitars, to the signature drum pattern that shares a spotlight with rock-steady bass choices.
“Paper Ghosts,” out August 28th, 2012, is a wild, insightful thing from the top of “Ghost of Illinois” to “Love You“‘s final fade. This is one of 2012′s must-not-miss independent records.