Grief is a tricky thing. It takes various shapes and forms and can often hit us in ways we don’t see coming. It has this way of pushing us to the darkest parts of who we are and taking away the things that make us feel anything other than loss. Ghost Town Remedy’s TJ Maher has dealt with more than his fair share of grief after losing his brother to suicide and father to cancer. Thankfully Maher managed to come out on the other side, using the band’s debut full-length album Caffeine Dreams as a means to put himself back together again.
There’s a lot of emotion packed into Caffeine Dreams’ nine tracks, and a surprising amount of pep considering the subjects dealt with throughout the album. Opening track “Pepe Silvia” kicks things off with a wonderful funk sound that you can’t help but bounce along to. The hooky chorus begs to be sung to at the top of your lungs and you won’t be able to keep from dancing when that screeching synth drops in. “Satellite” has a straight rock sound with driving guitars and an infectious beat. The track deals with death and attempting to reassure yourself that the person you lost is still watching over you. The upbeat rock sound creates a feeling of hope that’s especially comforting if you’ve lost someone important to you.
“River Runs Dry” is probably my favorite track on the album. A soulful folk ballad that’s dripping with emotion, I couldn’t help but go back and listen to the song several times before continuing on with the rest of the album. Violins dance above pianos and guitars on the driving “Waiting Room.” The track is about something everyone can relate to, finding oneself trapped and not knowing what the next step should be. “There’s nothing left to take from me / As I am dying patiently / One foot out and one behind / It’s finally time I’ve crossed the line / Oh I’m waiting for life to begin / BUt I’m getting nowhere / Once again.” Lyrically the song starts in a relatively dark place but moves to one of hope as the tune progresses.
Caffeine Dreams is a wonderful little album that dances along the line of folk and rock. Undeniably catchy, the hooks of the first few songs on the album will draw you in but it’s the ability to relate to the themes of finding one’s place in the world and dealing with loss woven through each track that will keep you coming back again and again.