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CD Review: The Black Ghosts

The Black Ghosts | The Black Ghosts | IAMSOUND
By Dennis Romero
LA Weekly, Sept. 18, 2008

The self-titled debut from London band the Black Ghosts via L.A. label IAMSOUND takes its place on nu-electro’s top shelf alongside such breakout acts as Justice, Simian Mobile Disco and Digitalism. This 11-track one-night stand of an album (done so soon?) features ’80s synths, thrashing, live-like drums and the wistful, yearning voice of Simon Lord (of Justice’s “We Are Your Friends” fame). The songwriting, performance and sentiments here (the dramatic, string-fed “Some Way Through This,” the regretful “Don’t Cry”) are heartfelt, giving birth to an emo-tronic sound.

Even when the Ghosts get off the pillow, the moods (the catchy “Something New,” the momentous “I Want Nothing”) are bittersweet, buoyed only by a disco-punk groove and a chorus so syrupy it would make Chris Martin blush. Theo Keating, formerly of British big-beat duo the Wiseguys (“Start the Commotion”), helps the Ghosts maintain polish, rhythm and bass, which are never far from the dance floor. The penny-loafer stomp of “Face” belongs on an LCD Soundsystem album. The Damon Albarn–sung single “Repetition Kills You” rolls on bouncing rock & roll bass lines and vintage video-game melodies. The Black Ghosts is one of the best albums of the nu-electro era, even if it gives a little TMI to the audience of point-and-click cool kids.


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Dennis Romero

Dennis Romero is a Southern California journalist who has covered popular culture, youth culture, raves, ecstasy, marijuana, electronic dance music, surfing, the housing crisis, wealth disparity, crime and other topics extensively in the span of 25 years. He participated in the Los Angeles Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the L.A. riots.

Before joining in 2018 as daily contributor he worked as a 40-stories-per-month staffer at LA Weekly. He's also been a recent contributor to the op-ed pages of the Los Angeles Times. His work as also appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and the Guardian. He's been on the feature writing staffs of the Los Angeles Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Emmis Publishing's Ciudad magazine. He's appeared on CNN, Investigation Discovery and Reelz multiple times to speak about stories he's covered. He's participated in panel discussions organized by Zocalo Public Square, the National Hispanic Media Coa…

Gangster's Paradise Lost

LA CityBeat
Nov. 6, 2003
By Dennis Romero
Cover photo by Steve Appleford Losing the mural, it seems, was a sign of the times. In 2002, when the city renovated the recreation center at Stoner Park in West L.A., the last remnants of the Westside's Latino gang culture were told that the building's big Chicano-era mural would be temporarily removed to accommodate construction, but then returned. The big tableaux from the side of the building was an homage to the Mexican flavor of the neighborhood, and a point of homeboy pride.
But when Mayor James K. Hahn presided over ribbon-cutting ceremonies celebrating the completed makeover last summer, the mural was absent, and the homies still haven't seen it. (A council district field deputy who keeps his eye on parks in the area said he has no idea what happened to the artwork.) Today, a few survivors of the Sotel 13 gang, which has claimed the park since the early 1950s, still congregate at the rec center each weekday at 3 p.m. – lik…

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