The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger

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The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger
The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger.jpg
Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl of The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, in a publicity photo taken by the artists for their 2014 release, Midnight Sun
Background information
Also known as GOASTT
Origin New York City, United States
Genres Folk, avant-garde, psychedelic pop
Years active 2008-present
Labels Chimera Music
Associated acts Mark Ronson, Plastic Ono Band, Jordan Galland, Cibo Matto, Beck
Website theghostofasabertoothtiger.com
Members Sean Lennon
Charlotte Kemp Muhl

The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger is an American band formed in 2008 by Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl. The couple have stated that they started the band as a way to spend more time together, and while they released a number of recordings and went on tours as a duo, they consider Midnight Sun, released in April, 2014, their first real record. Their tour to support the release of the album in May and June 2014 included opening for Beck as he started the East Coast leg of his 2014 tour.

History[edit]

The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger was formed in 2008 by musician Sean Lennon and his girlfriend, musician/model Charlotte Kemp Muhl. The name of the band is from a short story once written by Muhl.[1] Kemp and Lennon met in 2004 at the Coachella Music Festival. In an interview with the UK publication The Daily Telegraph, Lennon commented on their relationship: "Charlotte hadn’t even heard "Strawberry Fields Forever" when I met her," Lennon said. "And she knew nothing about my mum. Her parents thought I was just a delinquent, by virtue of association with the famous hippie delinquents. So it was nice because it was like a bridging of gaps and a collision of galaxies."[1]

Both Lennon and Muhl are multi-instrumentalists. Among the instruments the band uses, are the guitar, drums, and also the bayan. Muhl, also a successful model,[2] has been featured in Maybelline campaigns, as well as Jennifer Lopez's clothing brand J Lo.[3] She uses funds from her modeling work to fund her musical endeavours.[1]

Media response[edit]

The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger
Sean Lennon & Charlotte Kemp Muhl at Union Hall in Brooklyn; Oct 2010 taken by Charlene Aqualina

With the release of Midnight Sun in April 2014, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger received substantial media coverage in a variety of publications and online media, exploring the nature of their music, relationship and how the band connects to Lennon's musical heritage. Prior to that GOASTT appeared in a two-page spread in Vanity Fair, where they were photographed by famed French photographer Patrick Demarchelier.[4] In the article Lennon described the musical relationship with Kemp as having parallels to the relationship between his father John Lennon and writing partner Paul McCartney, and said his writing relationship with Kemp is like "intellectual tennis".[4]

In Italian Vogue, a reviewer described their sound as "soft and dreamy and evokes 60s French Pop and Folk Pops' Bohemian Gypsie atmosphere."[5] For the fall 2010 issue of Purple, Lennon and Kemp recreated the iconic picture of John Lennon and Yoko Ono taken by famous photographer Annie Leibovitz for the cover of Rolling Stone in 1981.[6] The picture of Kemp and Lennon was taken by photographer Terry Richardson. In Rolling Stone magazine, Lennon told interviewer Austin Scaggs about the musical dynamics of his relationship with Kemp, juxtaposed with that of John Lennon and Yoko Ono: "They were unified as a message and a movement, but she didn't want to write songs with my dad. ... [Kemp and I] love to collaborate. We just have a chemistry."[7] They have also performed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon[8] and Conan.[9]

Discography[edit]

Sean Lennon performing with The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger at The Saint in Asbury Park, NJ in September 2013

Jardin Du Luxembourg[edit]

Grammy Award winning record producer Mark Ronson, collaborated with The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger to produce an album in 2010: Jardin Du Luxembourg Ronson stated: "It's a 60s psych thing, quite Brazilian, with Sean and his girlfriend singing in unison."[10]

Acoustic Sessions[edit]

Acoustic Sessions, was released in late October 2010 through their own label, Chimera Music, and was recorded in their own home studio.[11]' Lennon told Spinner that it's supposed to convey to listeners the idea of hearing them alone in a living room: "It's almost rough sounding, but hopefully in a charming way. It's mostly acoustic guitar, some piano, some vibraphone."[11]

Reception[edit]

Acoustic Sessions was released to generally positive reviews: In October 2010, the Canadian publication The Globe and Mail rated Acoustic Sessions its Disc of the Week: "The album charms like a countryside circus. You wonder if the Hendersons will all be there, late of Pablo Fanque’s fair – what a scene, you bet."[12] In the November, 2010 issue of Rolling Stone a reviewer described their sound as "sunny" and psychedelic, and gave it a rating of 3.5 stars out of 5.[13] A reviewer for NPR had the following to say about Acoustic Sessions: "Listening to Acoustic Sessions is like stepping into a magical world where a smiling sun shines on fields of dancing flowers while winged creatures flit about in the fragrant air."[14]

La Carotte Bleue[edit]

La Carotte Bleue was available at live shows and on their website. It featured a more electronic sound than their previous album, and included many re-workings of songs from Acoustic Sessions. Both tracks from the Jardin Du Luxembourg single were also included on this release.

Midnight Sun[edit]

Years in development and previewed first on NPR’s First Listen,[15] Midnight Sun was released on April 29, 2014 on Chimera Music and received strong critical response. A departure from their previous more acoustic efforts, critics were almost universally positive about the album, with Megacritic giving it a composite 81 rating.[16]

Midnight Sun positively slays,” NME's Jeremy Allen opined[17] in his 8/10 review, summarizing: “Midnight scorchio, more like.” Gregory Heaney’s four out of five star review in Allmusic[18] wrote: “With its eclectic instrumentation and crunchy production (mixed by the master himself, Dave Fridmann), Lennon and Muhl create a musical landscape where seemingly anything can happen.” And Luke O'Neil in the Boston Globe[19] described Midnight Sun as “an accomplished, enjoyable record from start to finish, regardless of references or lineage.”

Other reviews include:

  • Molo - April 28, 2014[20]- "Out-of-body transmissions that channel Bends-era Radiohead, Syd Barrett whimsy and woozy melodic weirdness. 4 stars ****"
  • The Independent, UK - 25 April, 2014[21] "[L]urking behind the cosmicity, there’s usually a solid pop hook."
  • Zachary Houle - PopMatters - May 15, 2014[22] "Midnight Sun is a near perfect album. It remains wholly consistent, and evokes a certain time and era of music that doesn’t often get heard very much anymore."
  • Rolling Stone - Will Hermes - April 29, 2014[23] “{L]ike a playful mix of Sixties and Seventies tropes. Overall, the set could use some emotional weight to match the level of wit and craft.”

Sales were weak initially, with the album not tracked by Billboard. A month after its release, it hovered around #400 in music on Amazon, on par with current sales of classic albums such as Abbey Road and Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles and many independent vinyl stores did not stock it.

Composition[edit]

A substantially more electrified album than their previous efforts but with a wide range of styles within its dozen songs, Midnight Sun is a unique, diverse album that is both retro and forward leaning, with clear psychedelic rock and neo-psychedelia influences that fans and critics have pointed to including the Beatles during their pre and post [Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band period, the Rolling Stones' Their Satanic Majesties Request, as well as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and, because of their harmonies, the Beach Boys, as well as contemporary artists such as Beck, Flaming Lips and Tame Impala. In a 2014 interview, Kemp Muhl cited Jimi Hendrix, Syd Barrett and Bach as influences.[24][24] In an interview with the Boston Herald in June, 2014, Lennon stated "It’s easy to hear influences like the Beatles and Pink Floyd, but honestly we’re inspired by more than what you’d expect,” Lennon said. “Miles Davis, Stravinsky, film and narrative play a role. A lot of people hear that it’s a psychedelic record and think it sounds like ’67 to ’70. To some degree, that’s true, but there’s more to it."[25][25]

Production[edit]

Recorded at The Farm in Delaware County, New York by Andris Balins, Kemp Muhl stated in an interview[26] to support the album: “Midnight Sun we consider our first real record, it's the one we spent the most time on. We brought in Dave Fridmann (Tame Impala, Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, MGMT) to mix it and that made a huge difference. Everything else we did ourselves.”

Eleven of the twelve songs on the album were produced by The GOASTT, with the exception of Johanessburg, which was produced by Mark Ronson. Muhl Kemp indicated in the same interview with the Vancouver Courier,[26] that she and Lennon played the majority of the instruments and she played the bass, keyboards and some guitar, but they brought the new band members in for some overdubs.

All vocals on the album are by Lennon and Muhl Kemp and all songs written by them except Golden Earring, which was written by Evans, Livingston, and Young.

Songs[edit]

  • 1) "Too Deep" - 2:29 - (Sean Lennon / Charlotte Kemp Muhl). Lennon: drums, guitar, synth; Kemp Muhl: bass, guitar, percussion; Balins: Hammond organ. "And it’s an “Instant Psychedlia’s Gonna Get You” moment from the off, with “Too Deep” beginning proceedings." (John Daniel Bull - The Line of Best Fit).[27]
  • 2) "Xanadu" - 3:13 - (Sean Lennon / Charlotte Kemp Muhl). Lennon, guitars, drums; Kemp Muhl, guitar, percussion; Samuel, flute, strings. "In short, there’s a lot of Lennonesque psychedelia going on here, the “Tomorrow Never Knows”-style backward guitars and Eastern tones of “Xanadu” in particular."[28] ""Xanadu", with its glam-influenced flamboyance is by far the album's catchiest song."[29]
  • 3) "Animals" - 4:18 - (Sean Lennon / Charlotte Kemp Muhl). Lennon all instruments. "Say a prayer for the Internet billionaire," Lennon sings amid Muhl's woozy backing on "Animals," nodding to "messages from Jesus in the grease upon the grilled cheese..."[30] "‘Animals’ is an epic psychedelic wig out with kaleidoscopic chord progressions."[17]
  • 4) "Johannesburg" - 3:48 - (Sean Lennon / Charlotte Kemp Muhl). Lennon, guitars, synth, organ, percussion; Ronson, bass; Kemp Muhl, kalimba; Camerieri and Leonhart, horns. "‘Johannesburg’ - sung by CKM - recalls the charming arcane weirdness of previous offerings, but this time there are killer hooks aplenty that immediately hit the spot." (NME)[17]
  • 5) "Midnight Sun" - 3:42 - (Sean Lennon / Charlotte Kemp Muhl). Lennon, guitars, Casio ML5; Kemp Muhl, bass, percussion; Berman, drums; Samuel, Hammond organ, guitar, strings. "But on the title track, where Muhl takes a more prominent vocal role, the song’s sitar-funk sounds like a Mod-era soundtrack to a car chase." (Boston Globe)[31]
  • 6) "Last Call" - 6:01 - (Sean Lennon / Charlotte Kemp Muhl). Lennon, guitars, bass, drums; Shimizu, slide guitar; Camerieri, horns; Drungle, strings; Bartlett, wurlitzer. "Muhl joins Lennon on vocals during a film-like flight “down the yellow brick road”; passing the scarecrow and co as they go slowly, before pausing for the sort of escalating instrumental outro."[32]
  • 7) "The Devil You Know" - 3:30 -(Sean Lennon / Charlotte Kemp Muhl). Lennon, all instruments other than vibraphone, played by Kemp Muhl. "“Devil You Know” is undoubtedly a rock song, with distorted, swirling rhythms and deep drums giving it a hint of The Flaming Lips or Beck."[27]
  • 8) "Golden Earrings" - 4:24 - (Ray Evans / Jay Livingston / Victor Young). Lennon, guitars, bass; Samuel, organ, strings, bells, synth; Mallard, drums, percussion. "“Golden Earrings” is a meandering, pensive slice of cinematic psychedelia."[28] "But on "Golden Earrings," a shape-shifting cover of Peggy Lee's 1940s gypsy ballad, Lennon and Muhl invest a thrift-store find with remarkable soul." (Rolling Stone).[33]
  • 9) "Great Expectations" - 4:39 -(Sean Lennon / Charlotte Kemp Muhl). Lennon, guitars, oboe; Mallard, drums; Samuel, organ. "“Great Expectations” is a descent into the watery abyss." (Boston Globe)[19] "The 'Great Expectations' is one of the most perfect examples of how Sean and Charlotte's way of approaching a song is by picking an apparent common chord progression and suddenly interrupting it with a dramatic change, usually changing an obvious minor sequence with a sudden major incursion."[34]
  • 10) "Poor Paul Getty" - 2:56 - (Sean Lennon / Charlotte Kemp Muhl). Lennon, drumgs, guitar, synth; Kemp Muhl, guitar, percussion; Smaule, bass, organ. "[T]he Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger planted someone dressed as a giant ear on the stage during their performance of the track “Poor Paul Getty.”[35]
  • 11) "Don't Look Back Orpheus" - 3:52 - (Sean Lennon / Charlotte Kemp Muhl). Lennon, guitar; Kemp Muhl, percussion; Samuel, calliope, harpsicord. "If anything, Midnight Sun is one big throwback with a solid sound that recalls the music, accurately, of a bygone era. In fact, “Don’t Look Back Orpheus” feels in some respects like a merry-go-round broken down. This is face melting music, to be sure."[22]
  • 12) "Moth to a Flame" - 6:44 - (Sean Lennon / Charlotte Kemp Muhl). Lennon, guitar, bass, drums, organ. Kemp Muhl, synth. "And the album ends on the nearly seven-minute long extended epic “Moth to a Flame”, which seems like the perfect goodbye to this near-masterpiece, lodging itself deep inside your skull."[36] "Experimental ma non troppo, 'Moth to a Flame' has us travelling through space and time and provides an excellent closure to the album."[37]

Additional notes[edit]

  • Xanadu YouTube Mix[38]
  • Animals on Letterman, May 3, 2014[39]
  • Animals Official Video- Director's Cut on Vimeo[40]
  • "Golden Earrings", the only cover on the album was originally from a 1947 movie Golden Earrings that Peggy Lee[41] turned into a hit and was later covered by the band Gandalf[42] in the late 1960s.
  • In an interview with Jessie Opoien of The Capital Times,[43] Lennon how he ikes the narrative of "Don't Look Back Orpheus," describing him as "the Johnny B. Goode, the Jimi Hendrix, the Ziggy Stardust of ancient Greece." They had recently purchased an air-powered organ that they called Calliope, which is the name of Orpheus' mother, and used Calliope to play through the song, with keyboard player Jared Samuel, adding a solo to the song.

Midnight Sun Tour[edit]

Just after the release of the album, The GOASTT embarked on a tour[44] of twenty-seven venues in the U.S. and Canada beginning May 2 and running to the Mountain Jam Festival in Hunter, NY on June 8, 2014, followed by an additional nine dates in the eastern U.S. and Canada, seven of which open for Beck.

In addition to Lennon and Kemp Muhl, The GOASTT road band includes members of the Brooklyn-based Invisible Familiars,[45] with drummer Tim Kuhl, Jared Samuel on keyboards, and Robbie Mangano on guitars.

During the band's performance at the Chicago stop of this tour, Lennon informed the crowd that he and the rest of the band would be available for a meet-and-greet with fans after the show. For unknown reasons, about thirty minutes after a crowd of eager fans had begun to form, venue security appeared and informed the fans that the band would not be doing a meet-and-greet. No explanation has been given for this incident.

Review of Denver Concert[46] “Teetering between a darkly groovy psych vibe to ’70s funk to Brian Wilson-inspired vocal harmonies, the band covered a wide range of sonic territory...Lennon closed with a gorgeous rendition of the Hendrix classic “Little Wing” that sent the exuberant crowd out into warm summer night with big smiles."

GOASTT often finished their sets with the Syd Barrett tune "Long Gone"[47] S. Victor Aaron in Something Else Reviews[48] wrote: "The Ghost of A Saber Tooth Tiger brings the full band to bear on the song, busting out of the tune’s seams with heavy tones from guitars, Muhl’s organ and Tim Kuhl’s discriminating drums as the song descends into the metal bombast waiting at the end the chorus."

Film[edit]

The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger played for an after-party, celebrating the opening of the independent film, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead (2009).[49] Sean Lennon contributed the soundtrack to the movie.

Charity[edit]

The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger played a benefit concert in August 2010, with all the proceeds going to support the Woodstock Animal Sanctuary in New York.[50]

Interviews[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c McLean, Craig (2010-11-05). "Sean Lennon interview". London: The Telegraph. p. 1. Retrieved 2011-01-27. 
  2. ^ "Girl of the Month: Charlotte Kemp Muhl". Who What Wear LLC. 2011-01-29. Retrieved 2011-01-29. 
  3. ^ "Our Models". Maybeline. p. 1. Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  4. ^ a b Bennets, Leslie (2010-10-01). "His One And Ono". Vanity Fair. p. 1. Retrieved 2011-01-27. 
  5. ^ Pia, Stefania (2010-10-29). "Sean Lennon". Vogue. p. 1. Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
  6. ^ "Sean Lennon And Nude Model Recreate John And Yoko (NSFW PHOTO)". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
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  10. ^ "| Playlist | Showbiz & TV | Daily Star. Simply The Best 7 Days A Week". Dailystar.co.uk. 2009-06-13. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  11. ^ a b "Canadian Music - HuffPost Canada". Spinner.ca. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  12. ^ "A thing of beauty from that 'beautiful boy' Sean Lennon". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  13. ^ Will Hermes (2010-10-26). "Acoustic Sessions | Album Reviews". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  14. ^ Hilton, Robin (2010-10-17). "First Listen: The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger". NPR. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  15. ^ "First Listen: The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger, 'Midnight Sun'". NPR. 2014-04-20. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  16. ^ "Reviews for Midnight Sun by The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger". Metacritic. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  17. ^ a b c "NME Album Reviews - The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger - 'Midnight Sun'". Nme.Com. 2014-05-09. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  18. ^ Gregory Heaney (2014-04-29). "Midnight Sun - The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  19. ^ a b "ALBUM REVIEW: The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, ‘Midnight Sun’ - Music". The Boston Globe. 2014-04-29. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  20. ^ "Stream The GOASTT's Midnight Sun Album In Full | MOJO". Mojo4music.com. 2014-04-28. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  21. ^ Andy Gill (2014-04-25). "Album reviews: The Black Keys, Pixies, Jackson Browne, Imelda May, The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger, Chris Garneau - Reviews - Music". The Independent. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  22. ^ a b Houle, Zachary. "The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger: Midnight Sun". PopMatters. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  23. ^ Will Hermes (2014-04-29). "The Ghost of a Saber-Tooth Tiger 'Midnight Sun' Album Review | Album Reviews". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  24. ^ a b "The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger on going electric and the timeless combination of marijuana and Pink Floyd | SF Music". Startedwww.sfbg.com. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  25. ^ a b "Sean Lennon and model girlfriend cut a smart sound". Boston Herald. 2014-06-06. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  26. ^ a b John Goodman. "The Goastt come together on North American tour - Entertainment - Vancouver Courier". Vancourier.com. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  27. ^ a b "Album Review: The Ghost Of A Sabre Tooth Tiger - Midnight Sun". The Line Of Best Fit. 2014-05-01. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  28. ^ a b "ALBUM REVIEW: The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, ‘Midnight Sun’ - Music". The Boston Globe. 2014-04-29. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  29. ^ "Reviews | The Ghost of A Saber Tooth Tiger". The Quietus. 2014-05-28. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  30. ^ Will Hermes (2014-04-29). "The Ghost of a Saber-Tooth Tiger 'Midnight Sun' Album Review | Album Reviews". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  31. ^ [3][dead link]
  32. ^ "Album Review: The Ghost Of A Sabre Tooth Tiger - Midnight Sun". The Line Of Best Fit. 2014-05-01. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  33. ^ Will Hermes (2014-04-29). "The Ghost of a Saber-Tooth Tiger 'Midnight Sun' Album Review | Album Reviews". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  34. ^ "The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger - Midnight Sun l Album Stream". Thefourohfive.com. 2014-04-22. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  35. ^ [4][dead link]
  36. ^ Houle, Zachary. "The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger: Midnight Sun". PopMatters. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  37. ^ "The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger - Midnight Sun l Album Stream". Thefourohfive.com. 2014-04-22. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  38. ^ Polidoro, Andrea (2014-04-26). "The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger - Xanadu". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  39. ^ "[HD] The Goastt - Animals - David Letterman 5-2-14". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  40. ^ d (2014-05-17). "GOASTT - ANIMALS music video (DIRECTOR'S CUT) on Vimeo". Vimeo.com. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  41. ^ "Peggy Lee - Golden Earrings". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  42. ^ "GANDALF - Golden Earrings". YouTube. 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  43. ^ Opoien, Jessie (2014-05-29). "The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger roars through 'Midnight Sun' : 77-square". Host.madison.com. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  44. ^ "The Goastt". Facebook. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  45. ^ "Invisible Familiars". Invisible Familiars. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  46. ^ "Photos: The GOASTT at the Bluebird Theater in Denver (review) - Reverb". Heyreverb.com. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  47. ^ "Sean Lennon & GOASTT - Long Gone (Syd Barrett) 5.5.14 U St Music Hall DC". YouTube. 2014-05-08. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  48. ^ S. Victor Aaron. "One Track Mind: Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger, “Long Gone” (2014)". Somethingelsereviews.com. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  49. ^ "John Lennon's son Sean rocks out hard with new project Ghost of a Saber-Toothed Tiger". NY Daily News. 2010-06-06. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  50. ^ "Nippertown!". Nippertown!. 2010-08-20. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  51. ^ "Pop & Hiss". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  52. ^ Horne, Sarah (2010-09-14). "Meet the New John and Yoko". New York Post. 

External links[edit]