The Jordan Years

Is it possible to frown with approval? Like, this shit is so badass it makes me want to unfurl my lower lip and bob my head in a slow but tough grimace? Well, that was my reaction to The Jordan Years, a new self-released album by Reno hardcore band Ghost Shirt Society.

This type of hardcore is essentially a live music. It’s music meant to be experienced in a cramped, sweaty space, a basement or a warehouse, so it often loses something in the translation to a recorded medium. Hardcore records are often primarily mementos or previews for the band’s live show.

And, as good as it is, this record certainly loses something without the physical and visual impact of GSS, particularly vocalist Jordan Garnee’s lurking, lanky, tatted-up body. Here, Garnee is only a caterwaul, intense but slightly monotonous.

On the record, as in the live show, the lyrics are mostly indiscernible, though The Jordan Years comes with a lyric sheet. The lyrics range from the self-loathing “Bullets” to the funny, disturbing, shit-talkin’ “Roommates” to “Pull the Pin,” a first-person song from the perspective of a World War II soldier: “dug in foxholes/ wait for panzers/ inside tanks there’s German soldiers/ open it, open it/ pull the pin and throw it in.”

The musicians—bassist John Benson, drummer Jeff Mitchell and guitarist Andrew Warbington—are surefooted and quick-limbed. The recording isn’t perfect; the mix sometimes seems a bit off, particularly in regard to the drums, which sometimes sound a little mechanical. But the music covers a lot of ground, defying the expectations of naysayers who think all hardcore sounds the same. The music moves from tight, heavy riffing to quick, chaotic blast beats to slower, nuanced rhythms with artful feedback drones. All of it stuff to inspire some scowls of satisfaction.