"To speak of money and music in the same sentence is a fucking travesty. I'd rather keep losing money, rather keep scraping by than be a part of a scene constantly talks about sales, guarantees, and marketing prowess... Because this is how simple it should be; music is inside you, boiling, and it needs to get out because it's your way to express yourself and communicate with others...it's spiritual survival."
These words, written by Marianne from Cease Upon the Capitol, sum up the basic ideals of the punk scene to me: to play music with emotion and passion, and to do so with a DIY ethic, without the support of a major label and their money. To try and make the world a better place, socially and politically, and to live life outside of the confines of mainstream society. If my summation of punk is correct, then Ghost Mice are punk as fuck, or as their logo suggests, "Punk as folk."
Ghost Mice consists of two members, Hannah and Chris. Both sing, and they play violin and acoustic guitar, respectively. The band was formed when Chris and Hannah, who were members of Operation. Cliff Clavin, decided to play acoustic music so they could tour easily and more often. They don't use microphones or amps when they play, and usually end up playing in a park or someone's backyard. Chris also runs Plan-It-X records, the label that put out Europe. Plan-It-X's motto is "If it aint' cheap, it aint' punk," and the label refuses to sell a CD for more than five dollars. Like I said, Ghost Mice are pretty fucking punk.
Europe is a concept album based on the trip Ghost Mice took to Europe in the summer of 2000. They stayed for 90 days, without much money, without a plan, and without any solid contacts or friends, leading to a very tumultuous and life changing experience. Ghost Mice have turned this experience into Europe, an eleven track album where each song is about one of the countries or waterways Hannah and Chris visited. The result is a record filled with ups and downs, hope and despair, and ultimately an album showing the resolve of the human spirit.
The album starts in England and eventually ends in Ireland, and it followers Chris and Hannah as they go to each country on their route across Europe. They hitchhike from country and country, relying on the generosity of strangers for their travels, and many times for food and shelter as well. The music reflects their feelings, rising and falling with the experiences Chris and Hannah go through. This is no more evident in France, which features Hannah playing very slow violin notes and Chris singing in a depressed state, "Paris isn't that romantic if you don't have any money. Those cafes aren't so cute to walk by when you're hungry." However, when the group is given a ride out of the country the music picks up, and we are left with the hope that the journey is taking a turn for the better.
The album's standout track is its last, as the group is in Ireland and is finally welcomed with open arms and their troubles are seemingly over. They are allowed to camp out under the stars without being hassled, and meet many people who take them in and give them to stay until they travel back to the United States.
Europe is a simple and fun album, played by two people who are able to look at life with a positive outlook and play music with that same positivity. I don't consider myself to be a punk, but I respect those that do, and I envy what Chris and Hannah are able to do with their lives. Europe is a punk album, played by two people just trying to live their lives the way they see fit and to share their experiences with others. If this is what punk is about, then I couldn't really ask for any more.
8.9 / 10
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