The Middle East Club is known for showcasing some of Boston’s best local bands, but this Brooklyn-based quintet stole the spotlight last Friday to kick off the new year. Rocket & The Ghost lit up the venue, along with Beecher’s Fault and Madison Gerish. Lead singer Kiyoshi Matsuyama proved his outstanding range of vocals while backed by his bandmates’ powerful instrumentation. The clarity of Matsuyama’s voice paired with Brian Kesley’s heavy bass lines and Alan Markley’s powerful guitar chords couldn’t have left a single member of the audience disappointed. With the addition of backup vocals, a synthesizer and keys by Sean Gavigan, a modern component was paired with the classic rock sound of bass, guitar, and Stuart Bidwell on drums.
As a new band, Matsuyama admits that Rocket & The Ghost is still trying to figure out who they are. Their new self-titled EP released this past November makes Matsuyama’s claim easy to understand, as many of their songs cannot be classified under one distinct genre. Some critics categorize Rocket & The Ghost as rock, and although Matsuyama confesses they are “loud” when performing live, his delicate vocals and Gavigan’s harmonious synth defy rock standards. The EP served as a first experiment in an exploration of the band’s sound, and Matsuyama assures that this will resonate in future projects as well.
Though the band is constantly evolving and changing, their musical chemistry surely remains. Originating in Brooklyn, a famous artistic hub, the band was surrounded by cut-throat competition, innovation and opportunities to collaborate with a plethora of artists. In turn, Matsuyama credits Brooklyn for influencing the bands sound, “salty-sweet with modern ideals and old-school approval.” This “salty-sweet” dynamic is definitely evident in their self-titled EP, as each of the six songs were recorded live for an organic vibe. Full of what Matsuyama refers to as “OK mistakes” that inevitably result from live recording, the EP contains a genuine rawness free from studio editing– a rarity in this musical generation.
Matsuyama relates creating the EP to throwing darts.
“You just aim, and sometimes, you hit something.” It was an unpredictable process, as completing a song could either take one rehearsal or several months. “Something specific has to move us,” claims Matsuyama. And the crowd at the Middle East surely agreed, singing and swaying along with Rocket & The Ghost’s visceral sound.