COOL GHOULS – ” At George’s Zoo! “

Posted: April 24, 2022 in MUSIC

Cool Ghouls – a band fledged in San Francisco on house shows, minimum wage jobs, BBQ’s in Golden Gate Park and the romance of a city’s psychedelic history turns 10 this year. What better a decennial celebration than the release of their fourth album, “At George’s Zoo!” How did the San Francisco’s fab four arrive at George’s Zoo? The teenage friendship of complimentary spirits Pat McDonald (Guitar/Vox) and Pat Thomas (Bass/Vox) serves as square one.

The Patricks were munching on Eggo-waffle-sandwiches and downing warm Taaka in suburban Benicia years before McDonald would hear George Clinton address his fans as “Cool Ghouls”. The boys played their debut gig as Cool Ghouls at San Francisco’s legendary The Stud in 2011, but there’s no doubt the musical moment cementing the band’s trajectory was much earlier at the 18th birthday party for boy-wonder Ryan Wong (Guitar/Vox) – at the Wong household. You might remember the Ghouls’ earliest days… McDonald’s hair hung luxuriously past his waist, Thomas dreamt of no longer having to crash on friends’ couches to call SF home and Wong looked forward to turning 21. Cool Ghouls’ Pete Best, Cody Voorhees, thrashed wildly – but briefly – on the drums and Alex Fleshman (Drums), who still claims he’s not really “a drummer”, turned out to be a really good drummer. Thomas would sleep pee on tour. Those were golden days!.

It’s been 2 years since the last time Cool Ghouls have even played. Fortunately for us, the ghouls got an album in before it all went to shit, and they made it count. “At George’s Zoo” includes 15 of the 27 tunes they managed to eke out while simultaneously working through major life moves. It was a 5-month, all out, final sprint down the homestretch (to Ryan’s moving day) with affable engineer Robby Joseph, at his makeshift garage studio in the Outer Sunset . Instead of recording the entire album over a few consecutive days – like they’d done with Tim Cohen, Sonny Smith and Kelley Stoltz for the first three LPs – the band took it slow by working through a few songs each weekend after rehearsing them the week before. These guys have a real commitment to elevating as songwriters, musicians and ensemble players. It’s always been for the music with Cool Ghouls and this long-awaited self-produced outing is a track by track display of the ground they’ve covered and heights they can achieve. Their vocals and trademark harmonies are front and centre and out-of-control-good.

Ryan’s guitar solos are incredible. The horns by Danny Brown (sax) and Andrew Stephens (trumpet) hit in all the right places. Henry Baker (Pat Thomas Band / Tino Drima), plays keys throughout. There’s even a mesmerizing string section (“Land Song”) by sonic polyglot, Dylan Edrich. None of this growth is to the detriment of the fun, natural, feeling that fans have come to expect from the band. This is a fully realized Cool Ghouls album.

It paints a remarkable portrait of SF’s homegrown heroes and the many corners they’ve explored over the last decade. The song writing, harmony and playing are nothing if not solid. The lyrics are keen. Robby’s recording and mixing sound great start to finish . It’s a triumphant addition to their catalogue.

Recommended for Stooges and Beach Boys fans alike. Listen and see! Yes, many things have changed since 2011. Who knows what the 20’s will have in store for life on Earth, let alone the Cool Ghouls? We at least know that 2021 has “At George’s Zoo”

Available now on LP / CD / Digital via Empty Cellar Records and Melodic Records worldwide.

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