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Allyson Baker doesn’t scare easily. Back in the ’90s, she was sneaking into Dwarves shows and frequenting mosh pits before she was barely out of junior high; by age of 17, she was playing guitar for some of Toronto’s most notorious punk and hardcore bands (Teen Crud Combo R.I.P.), before leaving her friends and family behind in 2000 to shake some action in San Francisco. And yet, for all her apparent fearlessness, Allyson is very much haunted by forces beyond her control. Dirty Ghosts may be her new band, but it’s the five-years-in-the-making product of a habit she just can’t quit, a sound and vision that—despite numerous obstacles along the way—just had to be unleashed. True to their name, Dirty Ghosts rose from the ashes of San Francisco sludge-blues combo Parchman Farm in 2006; as an antidote to that band’s wall of squall, Baker and fellow Parchman Farm exile Carson Binks (another Toronto expat) launched Dirty Ghosts as a stripped-down duo, writing rhythmically driven new songs built around intricate drum loops pieced together by Aesop Rock. And as if this relaxed, more experimental ethic wasn’t a radical enough shift for these life-long punk-rockers, for the first time in her musical career, Allyson was forced to add “vocalist” to her résumé.
The Memorials were spearheaded by Bay Area drumming prodigy, Thomas Pridgen, in December of 2009. After a few years performing with The Mars Volta, Thomas turned his attention to forming his own group, incorporating a range of styles as diverse as the experiences of the bands members. Instead of becoming another rock bands’ heartbeat, the focus was to collaborate with proficient musicians whom Thomas felt would fill a void he has heard in rock music throughout his life. Thomas reached out to friends and former students of the esteemed Berklee College of Music, Viveca Hawkins (vocals), and Nick Brewer (guitars), to join him in his newest endeavor. Recording with his friend’s yielded a family vibe that enabled a comfortable yet intense recording process. The groups’ assets were rounded out with the addition of a bass, organ, synthesizers, and multiple percussive elements.