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Veruca salt are reunited and seething like never before with their strongest record yet.

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Ghost Notes

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By Estelle Tang

July 13, 2015

By choosing the title Ghost Notes , Veruca Salt confront common fears about band reunions head on. Will reconciliation be an excuse for nostalgia? Will the group be content to fall into old habits? This is the Chicago band’s first album with founding member Nina Gordon since 1997, and its opening sounds play like a knowing joke. On "The Gospel According to Saint Me”, a fuzzy and sinuous bassline that could have come from 1994’s American Thighs burbles quietly before being cut off by sharp chords, giving way to Gordon’s bell-clear vocals: “I wanted to live/ So I pretended to die.” The sound is familiar and so is the sense of mischief, and if there’s a phantom around, it wants to party.

If Ghost Notes doesn’t do much we didn’t already know Veruca Salt could do, that’s not such a bad thing in light of the group’s checkered history. From their earliest success with 1994’s “ Seether ”, their music was straightforward: infectiously poppy with a grungy rock underpinning, delivered by two frontwomen (Gordon and Louise Post) who were feminist but not overtly so—more the Breeders than Bikini Kill. Their music became glossier and sharper with their second album, Eight Arms to Hold You , which deployed single “ Volcano Girls ” like a grenade filled with superglue and silly string, and then, mysteriously and abruptly, Gordon departed in 1998. With Shapiro already having left after recording  Eight Arms to Hold You , Lack also exited, and Post oversaw a few newly constituted versions of Veruca Salt with dwindling success while Gordon struggled as a solo artist.

Gordon and Post are complements, tempering each other’s extremes while mutually enhancing strengths, and they’ve always been preternaturally skilled at transforming rotten experiences into triumphant anthems. Ghost Notes acknowledges this on “Black and Blonde”, the title a kind of sobriquet for the singer-guitarists and their contrasting aesthetics. Here, buzzing guitar and heavy drums underline Gordon’s angelic vocals except during the bridge, where their harmonies trill like a regretful music box. The juxtaposition makes their respective hard and sweet approaches sing, as on “Come Clean, Dark Thing”, where plain country-inflected verses alternate with a chorus backed by wailing guitar bends and Post’s scraping screams. The song’s lyrics prod and encourage, a “Hold On” for the 2010s: “Come clean dark thing/ You can breathe the air again.” It’s a sterling example of Gordon and Post’s assistive interplay and lucid sensitivity, and it’s an album highlight.

It’s clear that Post and Gordon are exhilarated about reuniting, and that joy is Ghost Notes ’ main theme. “She’s the flame and I’m the glow,” declares Post, and if their glee wasn’t obvious enough, the “Laughing in the Sugar Bowl” video shows an old photograph of the two burning in reverse—a reference to their 1998 split—then a shot of the older but wiser band members jamming, and the girls whispering to each other like besties, twin Gibson SG Standards at the ready. It’s an infectious friendship romp, marking a new chapter in the band’s Nina-and-Louise mythology.

The most common sin here is that the music can veer toward generic, forgettable rock. Sometimes the songwriting relies too heavily on swelling harmonies and crescendos, and occasional lyrical clichés grate. “Bang bang my head against a wall of sound,” shrieks Post on “Empty Bottle”, a song otherwise quietly prepossessing and handled expertly by producer Brad Wood. “The Sound of Leaving” showcases the versatility of Post’s voice, which can be one moment delicate, a petal on water, and a bewildered howl the next. But the track is complacently constructed, incorporating a basic guitar solo and a repetitive outro that feels more like a shrug than catharsis.

Apart from not futzing with the formula, the most compelling evidence of Ghost Notes ’ looking back rather than forward is that some of its songs actually were rescued from the ‘90s ashes of the band. Album closer “Alternica”, a sprawling, slow-paced epic about alienation, loss, and hope that draws on dreamy imagery, is a spiritual sister to “Earthcrosser”, the final track on  Eight Arms to Hold You . Not only does it hark back to the sonics of a previous era, but its evocation of a music-related space with a sci-fi name—“All hail Alternica”—is almost adorably old-fashioned. But so what if Veruca Salt’s return isn’t about doing something new? At its core, Ghost Notes , and the band who made it, wouldn’t be what they are if they didn’t celebrate their own homecoming. As they sing at album’s end, “In the end it comes around/ Comes around again.”

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Review: veruca salt, 'ghost notes'.

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veruca salt ghost notes

Veruca Salt's new album, Ghost Notes, comes out July 10. Courtesy of the artist. hide caption

Veruca Salt's new album, Ghost Notes, comes out July 10.

Ani Difranco has a line in her 2012 song, "If Yr Not," where she sings, "If you're not getting happier as you get older / Then you're [messing] up." Chicago alt-rock band Veruca Salt certainly didn't seem unhappy in their heyday in the mid- and late-'90s, but it's apparent within in ten seconds of the band's first album in nearly a decade, Ghost Notes , how much more fun they're having now.

album cover

Also apparent within ten seconds is the quartet's intention to double down on sounding recognizably like Veruca Salt, which means sounding unabashedly decade-specific. It's a bold move: changing lineups several times in the '90s and early '00s, stepping back from new material for a full decade, and returning with music that sounds as deliberately youthful as "Seether," its 1994 debut single. In fact, maybe even more so. Thanks in large part to unsinkable pop harmonies from Louise Post and Nina Gordon, Ghost Notes has brighter, rounder edges than their debut, American Thighs , or the even grittier Eight Arms To Hold You . What read then as a dirty-haired, grungy rebellious streak has been injected with exactly the lighter-hearted joie de vivre Difranco's lyric insists is the key to growing up.

To say they're audibly having fun as a pop-leaning rock band instead of a grunge-leaning rock band doesn't detract from the attitude the quartet still has in spades. "Black And Blonde," "The Sound of Leaving" and "Triage" would all have fit in on earlier Veruca Salt records but deliver their kicks with a grin that's specific to this one. Ghost Notes is a comeback in more ways than one — it's the first new music from the band in ten years, and it's the first released by the original lineup since Eight Arms in 1997. A group of friends and musicians who have overcome internal turmoil and external pressures that caused them to part ways in the '90s would sound this invincible. Embracing a throwback sound isn't stagnation for Veruca Salt. It's celebration.

  • Veruca Salt

The Fire Note

Veruca Salt: Ghost Notes [Album Review]

Christopher Anthony | June 29, 2023 July 16, 2015 | Reviews

Veruca Salt Ghost Notes El Camino Media [2015]

Having reunited with their original lineup in 2013, Veruca Salt have returned with their new LP, Ghost Notes . This album marks the first collaboration between Louise Post and Nina Gordon since 1997’s Eight Arms to Hold You . From a reviewer’s perspective, one might expect a lukewarm response to this record, but instead, the band recaptures the poppy and grungy charm that defined their 1994 release, American Thighs . It goes without saying that Post and Gordon’s reunion is crucial to the success of this endeavor.

Following ’97, neither artist experienced much success individually. Post led various incarnations of Veruca Salt, resulting in albums that are difficult to recall, while Gordon embarked on a forgotten solo career that produced two records marred by major label pitfalls. This “woe is me” backstory sets the perfect stage for Ghost Notes , as Veruca Salt makes the most of their circumstances.

The album kicks off with the groovy opener, “The Gospel According to Saint Me,” as the band eases back into their signature sound. However, it truly hits its stride with the attitude-filled follow-up track, “Black And Blonde.” The commanding bass and heavy drums dominate the song, while the soaring harmonies and hushed sing-along in the background serve as a reminder that Veruca Salt is back in full force. Though they’ve occasionally bordered on forgettable clichés, pulling it off at this stage is no easy feat. The nearly six-minute-long “Empty Bottle” is one of those songs that sticks with you. It starts off incredibly slow, only to crank up the intensity within seconds. The passion still shines through, evident in the climactic lyrics: “Banging my head against a wall of sound; A wall like a lover, it brings me to the ground; We surf the crowd, oh, we won’t be defeated; I don’t want to drown if you’re not drowning with me.” These words remind us that emotions remain timeless, irrespective of age or era.

Let me be frank; Ghost Notes will likely not make it into the Top 50 this year. However, it marks a solid return to the stage for Veruca Salt. If you were a fan of their first two records, Ghost Notes will satisfy your core. At 55 minutes, the album may be a tad lengthy, but it compensates for lost time as Veruca Salt showcases their enduring musical prowess until the very end.

Key Tracks: “Black And Blonde” / “Empty Bottle” / “The Sound Of Leaving”

Artists With Similar Fire: Juliana Hatfield / Weezer / Throwing Muses

Veruca Salt Website Veruca Salt Facebook El Camino Media

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Ghost Notes is the first new album from Veruca Salt featuring all original members (Nina Gordon-Vocals & Guitar, Louise Post-Vocals & Guitar, Steve Lack-Bass, Jim Shapiro-Drums) since 1997's certified gold album, Eight Arms To Hold You. Formed in Chicago, IL in 1993, Veruca Salt took the indie-rock world by storm with their first single 'Seether' from their debut album, American Thighs. For their first record in almost two decades Ghost Notes, the band enlisted producer Brad Wood (Smashing Pumpkins/Sunny Day Real Estate/Liz Phair) who also produced their debut release.

Product details

  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Product Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.08 x 5.24 x 0.28 inches; 1.34 Ounces
  • Manufacturer ‏ : ‎ El Camino Media, LLC
  • Item model number ‏ : ‎ 34207590
  • Original Release Date ‏ : ‎ 2015
  • Date First Available ‏ : ‎ May 16, 2015
  • Label ‏ : ‎ El Camino Media, LLC
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B00XM0FS20
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ USA
  • Number of discs ‏ : ‎ 1
  • #18,848 in Pop (CDs & Vinyl)
  • #19,828 in Rock (CDs & Vinyl)

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Ghost Notes

July 10, 2015 14 Songs, 54 minutes ℗ 2015 Are You There God Its Me Music (ASCAP)

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Album Review: Veruca Salt – Ghost Notes

Veruca Salt new album reunion Ghost Notes

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It’s unlikely that Veruca Salt ’s original lineup of Nina Gordon, Louise Post, Steve Lack, and Jim Shapiro ever imagined influencing bands 20 years in the future. One listen to Colleen Green or Charly Bliss, though, is all it takes to recognize the Chicago band’s importance, even if just with 1994’s American Thighs .  Ghost Notes , Veruca Salt’s fifth album, plays out like a thank-you note, but unlike most reunited bands, Veruca Salt don’t aim to recapture the past. Instead, the four-piece ditches easy nostalgia for a thorough embrace of their alternative rock roots.

When they returned for Record Store Day 2014 with  “The Museum of Broken Relationships” , things seemed like they could go in either direction. Veruca Salt could embark on a money grab reunion tour or use the holiday to ensure their reunion news reached every fan. Ghost Notes suggests they did the latter. While that single did stick around (B-side “It’s Holy” was axed on the final cut), it was tidied up for the album, warping its brief timestamp and prowling bass to better support the angsty lyrics. Now, the reshaped high school heartbreak prose fits in with the present day.

The band knows better than to dwell on the past. The cliches of the ’90s — power chords, grunge production, drawn-out vocal groans — are behind them, for better or worse. Now middle aged, the four musicians aren’t pretending they’re still in the decade of Lisa Frank stickers and flannel, and they occasionally get lost in the fluff. That doesn’t mean every pop punch hit the trashcan. Hefty grunge romps about in “Black and Blonde” and morphs into cheery melodies on “Eyes on You”. The pop peaks on “Laughing in the Sugar Bowl” , a two-minute slap of jetting guitars and taunting refrains. Veruca Salt are still writing catchy, raging songs, but the naivety of their intent and its two-decade-old edits are miles away here.

Maybe it’s because they frequently opt for slower songs. On “Empty Bottle” , Veruca Salt arrive in a contented, contemplative space. “I don’t want to drown if you’re not drowning with me” should stamp itself as a cliche, but the sonic twists around it hint at recurring panic. “The Sound of Leaving” clears the foggy murk of Kurt Cobain, “Lost to Me” treads in Liz Phair territory, and closer “Alternica” recalls the operatic nature of …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead in six string-laden minutes. Even “Triage”, the album’s secret weapon, twiddles its thumbs in an endearing fashion, a move that allows its final moments of crushing riffs to hit three times as hard.

Holding on to feelings of youth while accepting your age is hard no matter the context. Veruca Salt’s original lineup gives it a whirl anyway and comes close to pulling it off from front to back. Opening lines like “I know it’s late but it’s better than never/ I always thought you would live forever” on “I’m Telling You Now” are strung like candy necklaces, the sugary vocal delivery contrasting with the snarl of the guitars. Veruca Salt helped form the take-it-and-run blend of power and melody in the ’90s. It’s been 18 years since the original lineup tackled their original sound, so Ghost Notes  slows things down to half the tempo to pretend like nothing has changed. For 14 songs, it’s easy to pretend that’s true.

Essential Tracks:  “Empty Bottle”, “Laughing in the Sugar Bowl”, and “The Sound of Leaving”

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Album Review: Veruca Salt - Ghost Notes

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Veruca Salt, ‘Ghost Notes’

veruca salt ghost notes

When the Chicago foursome Veruca Salt burst into the rock world 20-ish years ago, it quickly became known for its ferocity. The title of the quartet’s debut (“American Thighs”) nodded to AC/DC’s swagger; the band enlisted megaproducer Bob Rock for its followup; and gritty tracks like “All Hail Me” and “Volcano Girls” channeled hard rock’s crunch, adding Nina Gordon and Louise Post’s spun-sugar harmonies and gimlet-eyed lyrics for extra pop. Gordon departed in 1998 and Post trucked on until the mid-2000s; the band’s original lineup reformed in 2013. “Ghost Notes” unsurprisingly reflects (and reflects on) the band’s maturity, but retains the confidence and playfulness that made it an alt-rock touchstone. Rock gems like “The Gospel According to Saint Me” and “Black and Blonde” possess the gnarled potency of the band’s earlier material; the slow-burning “Museum of Broken Relationships,” meanwhile, shows how the Gordon/Post harmonies can simultaneously convey joy and heartache. When the band stretches out, as on the gorgeous, feedback-covered “Prince of Wales,” the results are stunning. (Out today)

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veruca salt ghost notes

Review: Veruca Salt, 'Ghost Notes'

Veruca Salt's new album, <em>Ghost Notes, </em>comes out July 10.

Ani Difranco has a line in her 2012 song, "If Yr Not," where she sings, "If you're not getting happier as you get older / Then you're [messing] up." Chicago alt-rock band Veruca Salt certainly didn't seem unhappy in their heyday in the mid- and late-'90s, but it's apparent within in ten seconds of the band's first album in nearly a decade, Ghost Notes , how much more fun they're having now.

veruca salt ghost notes

Also apparent within ten seconds is the quartet's intention to double down on sounding recognizably like Veruca Salt, which means sounding unabashedly decade-specific. It's a bold move: changing lineups several times in the '90s and early '00s, stepping back from new material for a full decade, and returning with music that sounds as deliberately youthful as "Seether," its 1994 debut single. In fact, maybe even more so. Thanks in large part to unsinkable pop harmonies from Louise Post and Nina Gordon, Ghost Notes has brighter, rounder edges than their debut, American Thighs , or the even grittier Eight Arms To Hold You . What read then as a dirty-haired, grungy rebellious streak has been injected with exactly the lighter-hearted joie de vivre Difranco's lyric insists is the key to growing up.

To say they're audibly having fun as a pop-leaning rock band instead of a grunge-leaning rock band doesn't detract from the attitude the quartet still has in spades. "Black And Blonde," "The Sound of Leaving" and "Triage" would all have fit in on earlier Veruca Salt records but deliver their kicks with a grin that's specific to this one. Ghost Notes is a comeback in more ways than one — it's the first new music from the band in ten years, and it's the first released by the original lineup since Eight Arms in 1997. A group of friends and musicians who have overcome internal turmoil and external pressures that caused them to part ways in the '90s would sound this invincible. Embracing a throwback sound isn't stagnation for Veruca Salt. It's celebration.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

veruca salt ghost notes

Ghost Notes

  • Record Label: El Camino Records
  • Release Date: Jul 10, 2015

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Generally favorable reviews - based on 12 Critic Reviews What's this?

Generally favorable reviews - based on 10 Ratings

  • Summary: The first release from the Chicago indie rock band's original line-up since 1997's Eight Arms To Hold You was produced by Brad Wood.
  • Genre(s): Grunge , Pop/Rock , Alternative/Indie Rock , Alternative Pop/Rock
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  • Positive: 11 out of 12
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  • Magnet Sep 22, 2015 80 As comebacks go, it's perfect. [No. 124, p.61] All this publication's reviews

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Veruca Salt reunites to tell story of breakup, recovery in ‘Ghost Notes’

Nina Gordon, left and Louise Post of the band Veruca Salt are back together after 20 years and are photographed during a rehearsal n North Hollywood.

Nina Gordon, left and Louise Post of the band Veruca Salt are back together after 20 years and are photographed during a rehearsal n North Hollywood.

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More than two decades after rising out of the Chicago indie scene with the hit alt-rock single “Seether” on debut album “American Thighs,” Veruca Salt’s Louise Post and Nina Gordon are the first to admit that though their passion for music hasn’t changed, their lifestyles have.

“It used to be about our Johnny Walker Black,” Gordon says, as the two sit down at a bright and airy cafe in Studio City. “Now, it’s our lattes.”

Regardless, Veruca Salt’s original lineup has returned for the first time since the late ‘90s with “Ghost Notes,” a record that doesn’t shy away from scrutinizing the band’s tumultuous breakup. (Veruca Salt celebrates Friday’s release of “Ghost Notes” with a performance Saturday at the El Rey Theatre.)

After the release of the sophomore album “Eight Arms to Hold You” in 1997, drummer Jim Shapiro quit the band. Gordon and bassist Steve Lack left in 1998, leaving Post alone under the Veruca Salt moniker for two subsequent albums.

“The expectation was for us to skyrocket,” Post said. “We were so disappointed when we felt like anything short of that was happening.”

“When blunt haircuts and grungy guitar work go the way of the Pet Rock, the band will likely survive,” read a 1995 review for a Veruca Salt concert that ran in The Times. “Its sense of style and feel seem too strong to be rendered obsolete.”

“Our favorite thing in the whole world was to sing together, sing harmonies and kick on our distortion pedals,” Gordon said. “The industry, the expectations, all of that stuff is part of what ate away at the trust and bond.”

After years of scarce correspondence and each writing scathing songs about the other, Post and Gordon, both having started families, began talking on the phone and reviving their friendship.

“Everything was friendly, but we didn’t discuss music,” Gordon said.

However, when Gordon noticed the buzz Mazzy Star was receiving after its 2012 reunion and appearance at Coachella, it triggered a desire to play music again with Post.

“We met for dinner, and we laughed and we cried,” Gordon said. “We saw each other for the first time in 14 years.”

But before recruiting Lack and Shapiro to restart Veruca Salt, Post and Gordon first had to reconnect musically.

Post shared an idea for a song that would become the new album’s final track, “Alternica,” which looks back on the alternative music scene that gave birth to their band. For Gordon, hearing Post’s song signaled a need for the duo to write about the friendship that had spawned Veruca Salt.

“The most powerful and wounded place was our relationship,” Gordon said. “That was the place we needed to write from.”

With Post and Gordon both raising families, the songwriting demanded a joint effort. “We relied on each other to write these songs and to finish these songs,” Post said. “We’ve never really done that before.”

Post and Gordon used the tracks of “Ghost Notes” to deconstruct the breakup of the band and their relationship. “Black and Blonde,” a song Gordon had previously released in 2000 as a searing critique of Post, was rerecorded for the group’s new album.

“We reclaimed it and reframed it to be a song about us and what happened to us, not what was done to me,” Gordon said.

Reuniting to retell the emotions of the breakup, Post and Gordon made a point not to hold back any feelings. The album “is the exclamation point of all the excavation we did in order to be able to heal and come back together as a unit,” Post said.

Post and Gordon said naming the record “Ghost Notes” became an allegory for the tracks that were inspired by the band’s breakup. “I think of each song as a page torn out of a notebook, our notebook,” Post said. “It’s our way of honoring a time and letting it have its day.”

Even though “Ghost Notes” focuses on recovering and rebuilding after the band’s breakup, the opening track, “The Gospel According to Saint Me,” makes it clear that the reunited band still means business.

“It’s gonna get loud,” Gordon sings with backup vocals from Post. “It’s gonna get heavy.”

With the band’s signature mix of sticky pop melodies over crunchy, distorted guitars, “Ghost Notes” has become the third Veruca Salt album that never was, a proper follow-up to “Eight Arms to Hold You.” However, Post said Veruca Salt didn’t aim to recapture an established formula.

“There was no conscious decision to stay true to our sound or even recognition that we had a sound,” she said. “It was just the four same people making an album, with all these years in between.”

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Veruca Salt

Where: El Rey Theatre

When: 9 p.m. Saturday

Tickets: $25

Info: https://www.theelrey.com

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  3. Review: Veruca Salt, 'Ghost Notes'

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  4. Veruca Salt: Ghost Notes [Album Review]

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VIDEO

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  3. [ARCHIVES] VERUCA SALT "THE MORNING SAD"

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  5. PLAY GREAT GHOST NOTES WITH THIS RIGHT HAND DRILL (Bass Lesson)

  6. Veruca Salt 1997 interview part 1, Nina and Louise get a manicure!

COMMENTS

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    Ghost Notes by Veruca Salt on Apple Music Open in Music Ghost Notes Veruca Salt ALTERNATIVE · 2015 Preview 1 The Gospel According to Saint Me 3:49 2 Black and Blonde 4:07 3 Eyes On You 3:17 4 Prince of Wales 5:35 5 The Sound of Leaving 3:32 6 Love You Less 3:09 7 Laughing in the Sugar Bowl 2:16 8 Empty Bottle 5:53 9 Come Clean, Dark Thing 3:22 10

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