Jake Simmons and the Little Ghosts new EP shows punk influence, new lyrical direction

Kalamazoo band Jake Simmons and the Little Ghosts, waving the flag of Springsteen influences with flourishes of punk and soul, will release a new EP Saturday in Lansing at Mac's Bar.

Simmons and the Little Ghosts bring a ton of energy to this new effort, entitled “Them and Them and Us."

While their previous self-titled record lies more on the soul-influenced, crooning side, this new effort shows off more guitar rock and energy.

“Them (In These Hands)” pushes itself forward by the perpetually repeated phrase, “In these hands we've been abandoned/In these hands we've been let down." The high-energy chorus shows the band's intensity; guitar chords explode, vocals soar and the drum and bass pound out the beat.

The chugging, downbeat-laden and snare-driven “Them (Evil)” has a march-like feel to it. “It's not about the people/It's about the right people,” and other lines like “Lesser of two evils/Won't you save us from these people” and “I'm tired of speaking softly” accentuate the political bent of the lyrics.

“Who Are You?” is a standout track for the band. With a lone, catchy guitar line and vocals, Simmons lays a lot on the line musically and lyrically. His guitar playing expresses a working class loneliness; one definitely gets Springsteen vibes from this. “Pray to save our souls/pray to save our minds/pray to rock and roll/pray to Jesus Christ,” he belts out.

The EP's longest track “Them and Them and Us” has a fast, if midtempo, vibe. Fingers run up the guitar neck in the bridge, creating a tension only amplified by the “woah” chorus. It's intense. As the drums push along with a one-two snare beat and the bass pushes down, a Gaslight Anthem feel comes through. The ending of the song builds up to a mighty, anthemic and triumphant instrumental catharsis.

The songs are worth multiple listens.

Jake Simmons and the Little Ghosts have armed themselves with a few new rock and roll weapons like catchy and singalong choruses, inventive guitar solos mixing the energies of soul and punk and a new lyrical mindset for the band to place a musical backdrop to.

If you're into bands like The Gaslight Anthem or Titus Andronicus, check this out.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars