Galapaghost: Album review of “I Never Arrived”

Hailing from Woodstock, New York, the solo artist, indie/folk singer Casey Chandler, created the essence of (and band now known as) Galapaghost.  Having completed a bachelor’s degree in music production from SUNY Purchase, this young gentleman recorded his first album, “Runnin’”(2011), in the comfort of his own bedroom, later releasing it on an Italian label, Lady Lovely, in 2012.

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(Cover of 1st album, “Runnin’”, via Lady Lovely’s site)

To promote his debut album, Casey toured Italy, successfully playing 15 dates.  Not only touring with the likes of Ru Catania, and Frederico Puttilli, the artist also received the aide of Ru Catania in the production of his second album “Dandelion”(2013).

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(Cover of 2nd album, “Dandelion”, via Lady Lovely’s site)

After a busy year of work, shooting & releasing a music video for his single “Science of Lovers”, and being commissioned to write the soundtrack for a major Italian film called “II Ragazzon Invisible” (directed by Oscar winning film director Gabriele Salvatores), Chandler has finally released his newest album “I Never Arrived” January 9th, 2016.

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(Album cover for “I Never Arrived”, via Galapaghost’s official site)

The album cover strikes me as quite Modest Mouse inspired, whereas the music reaches more for folk-pop roots, with a melancholy indie-rock twist.

Casey Chandler self-released his 3rd album, “I Never Arrived”, January 9th, 2016 on his bandcamp.  The album consists of 12 tracks.  The most popular being the 2nd,“Science of Lovers”, hitting 6,443 plays and later becoming a music video on the artists’ Youtube channel.  Soft, ambient, and heartfelt music envelopes the listener right from the start. It resembles the indie-rock aspect of the Antlers, through keyboards, synth and distant, yet surrounding, vocals mixed with rough lyrical subjects such as pleading insanity– not unlike poppy Bright Eyes, through the raw-sadness of folk.

The first track, “Mazes in the Sky”, begins with a downcast yet upbeat, ambient sound with more layered guitar-picking, and whining vocals managing respectable-enough indie-rock riffs. Lyrically, the song brings to light a lover lacking responsibility for their mistakes, outwardly blaming everything but themselves.

The next track, “Science of Lovers”, mixes up indie-rock with a folk beat, while vocals and guitar are heard weaving around each other. Through-out the song, though, we hear what some might find to be an overbearing Radiohead influence.

“Salt Lake City” comes next with an angst-y, nostalgic vibe. There’s the reoccurring folk-pop beat that builds-up for greater emphasis and then the releasing of the synth announcing a faster tempo. The recipe seems to be Of Monsters & Men minus the choir, with a dash of a summer-fling heartbreak and a bag of indie-pop.

“Mister Mediocrity brings more atmospheric, indie-pop groove, with a nagging feeling that you’re listening to an obviously depressed, amateur Yoni Wolf.  Lyrically, it touches on the artist’s struggle with his music, the creating, and the frustration of creating a diverse sound that defines his own genre…if only he could get there. Over-repetitive indie riffs and a trappy-pop beat, accompanied by whining vocals lusting over his wish to be able to create a new sound.

’’I Never Arrived’’  is a more ‘trap’ beat that occasionally makes the song relaxing and pleasantly ambient.  This is the originality shining through.  Although this is obviously not my genre, I can see the potential for amiability from the right audience. It was packed, though, with emotion and nostalgic angst.

The 6th track, “Vitamin D”; always a different sound. Drawing back to traditional folk, layered guitar-picking and harmonic setting, we yet-again suffer more angst while the the vocals chime-in, making the repetitive guitar seem way too long.

“The Greatest Roommate” is yet another experimental song crossing over two different genres. In this case it’s folk-pop and ambient country-pop.  You’re not sure if it’s a tribute for Mr. Lahey from Trailer Park Boys or a nervous,  pre-break up song.

“The Secrets Our Body Keeps” creates a quite lovely, experimental, yet harmonic, progression eerily resembling Metric’s “Breathing Underwater”. Catchy, pop verses and riffs blend perfectly.

“Somewhere”:… a wailing guitar leaving way for his deep, indie folk voice seeping through the melting bends of the guitar…Layered vocals confuse and blend with the harmonics playing tricks on your ears. Toning the setting down from the last tracks, and actually diversifying the patterns and coming up original… Piano & country melting-in with indie picking.

“Bloom”: comes out a little rushed. The guitar just doesn’t give time to really appreciate the complexity of the riff…although the vocals do whine it out, and well enough, yet they’re overdone between verses.

“Goodbye (My Visa Arrived)”: a soft on the ears melody, again almost droning-on too long, and taking himself a tad too seriously– but still pleasant enough.  Respect definitely goes out to Casey Chandler for being an independent musician and to all the seriously hard work he’s put in.  For all the harsh critiquing I do, I can still appreciate that.

“Our Place”:  another toned-down, soft and melodic song.  The country and folk feel becomes more dominant than the earlier pop tracks. It’s an original sound blossoming respectably well. Another whiff of a toned-down Of Mice & Men track, once again resurfaces.

As a conclusion, this album is quite diverse; layering sounds from genres such as folk, pop folk, indie rock/pop, trap beats and alternative rock waves.  Although taking himself a tad too seriously, Chandler’s new album is packed with emotion, nostalgic lust and powerful musical layering– maybe not as original as his first,  as he’s left, too often, sounding a bit too much like his influences, at times.

Words by Grace Karam

Footnote: This is my first album sent to me by IMP to review, if you enjoy it then check out their site and crew of writers!  This is my first official paid, free-lance work and it’s all thanks to IMP!