Extra Happy Ghost!!!
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Extra Happy Ghost!!!

Calgary, Alberta, Canada | INDIE

Calgary, Alberta, Canada | INDIE
Band Pop Avant-garde


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Modern Horses Review"

One of the first lessons we learn about the world is how scary it can be. Discovering just how expansive your surroundings are for the first time and can be an absolutely terrifying thing to come to terms with. It’s easier every day to feel completely lost in a disaffected world with no reference point. Extra Happy Ghost!!! know this. They have been to the edges of precipices, and stared at the night sky with a smile. Modern Horses is a scale model of the imposing and cavernous world outside; distance with perspective. A pocket guide to infinity. Extra Happy Ghost!!!,while possessed by the best intentions, wring a wellspring of influences that echo every song with catchy reverberated hooks that could just as easily be shaken off into a wall of fuzzed-out guitars; and with a detached, yet beautifully pitched harmony of vocals they will tell you, ‘don’t try to figure it out’. Not long after Modern Horses’ modestly strummed beginnings (right around the time So At One really picks up) EHG!!! bare their psychedelic teeth, and reveal they are capable of considerable snarls of noise that left in the wrong jowls could ruin a song; but they remain in control throughout the length of the record with an impressively unobtrusive outcome. With their magnitude in check, EHG!!! have strung a record of well-directed lo-fi pop that gets more interestingly complex with every listen.

— Steve Marck - SouthernSouls.ca

"Extra Happy Ghost!!! Modern Horses"

By Alex Hudson
Matthew Swann is not yet a star in the Canadian music world, but the Calgary, AB songwriter's first full-length as Extra Happy Ghost!!! will have a guaranteed audience, thanks to the production work of indie hero Chad VanGaalen. The nine songs on Modern Horses bear the distinct sonic stamp of VanGaalen's Yoko Eno studio, brimming with brittle guitars and eerie, reverb swathed vocals. But unlike VanGaalen's albums, or those he recorded with Women, this collection is starkly minimal. Many of the tracks feature barebones arrangements, with Swann's guitar and vocals joined by drums and only a smattering of additional overdubs. This sparseness adds to the haunting atmosphere, making these slow, anxious tunes sound even gloomier than they otherwise would be. Plodding opener "Mercy, Mercy" contains the sinister refrains "Mostly I'll never harm you" and "Kill all your gods." Even the comparatively peppy "So at One" repeats the dour chorus lyric, "And so we are alone" before giving way to a dissonant, noise-soaked breakdown. Bleak as it is, Modern Horses is a grower and the unsettling vibes become increasingly irresistible with each listen. Having created such a dark, addictive debut album, don't expect Swann to be overshadowed by his big-name producer for long.

How did you come to be working with Chad VanGaalen?
How it first started was through Ian Russell; Ian runs Flemish Eye Records. I was at a Vic Chesnutt show in late 2009, I believe, and Ian approached me and said, "Hey, Chad is a big fan of your record." This was my EP that I had put out a few months prior to that [How the Beach Boys Sound to Those with No Feelings]. It was a massive compliment. I mentioned to Ian on the spot that I was a big fan of Chad's work and I loved both of the Women records, though at that point only the first one had come out. I was like, "If he ever wants to work with anyone or whatever…" Then, a couple months after that, I actually ran into Chad. We talked and it was like, "Yeah, let's do it."

What role did he play in shaping the album?
Initially, going into it, I thought, "Wow, what craziness awaits?" Funnily enough, I'd say the main factor he brought to it was actually a lot of restraint. Often times when I'd be like, "Hey, let's add a Theremin" or whatever outrageous notions I was coming up with, he said, "Dude, no." So it ended up being, in a lot of respects, quite a sparse record. The other thing was his space and the gear that he uses. The sonics were an influence on it; his tape machine, in particular.

Your past releases were mostly done at home. How did it differ to record in an outside studio?
It was challenging, actually, to relinquish control. I operate creatively in very weird ways and on very weird schedules. I'm totally a product of inspiration. A lot of the time I'll lay down a weird guitar part at three in the morning when I'm drunk. That part was different ? there was all of a sudden stuff that was out of my hands. But it was an amazing experience. It's a crazy little studio that he has. It's Chad VanGaalen; he's a fascinating, extremely talented, wonderful person.

Modern Horses is named after an incident in which nine horses jumped off a bridge. Why did you name your album after that?
The horse is one of the major symbols of the city that I live in, that I was raised in and that I have an extremely complex relationship with. The song ["Modern Horses"] is about psychological dissonance, with respect to one's situation. That's what the record is about, in a lot of ways. So much about our situations, no matter what they are, is informed by so many disparate elements that are completely out of our control. Those choices that we do make are framed in such a small, limited moment of that, which has been completely determined by various dissonant elements. In respect to my hometown, I was born in this place and I've chosen to stay here, but it's kind of just circumstantial that I'm here. I think a lot of artists in Calgary feel dissonance, alienation and confusion.

It sounds like a pretty hopeless, existential idea.
Yeah, it is. I'm scared to use those words because I don't want to come across as some pretentious loser. But it's a moody record and it is an anxious and paranoid record in a very, very sincere way. I certainly don't want it to come across as some heady thing.

What draws you to write such gloomy music?
I don't know! It's funny, especially in Calgary, so many of many of my favourite bands are these fun punk rock bands that just play rock'n'roll music. I've always, in a weird way, envied that; it's almost sometimes embarrassing to not be able to do that. But at the same time, I guess it's what comes out. I'm drawn to making music to explore certain ideas and to explore complexity. Given that I'm not the guy that's playing in the punk rock band, I guess the most punk rock thing to do is be yourself.

What are your future plans with Extra Happy Ghost!!!?
I would like to tour as much as I can for the next few months. I book my own tours and then assemble some sort of live incarnation to make that happen, so we'll see. Ideally I'd like to go on the road and play a ton of shows over the next little while. I'm also anxious to get started on another record. My favourite part of it is writing and recording.

(Saved by Radio) - Exclaim

"Disc of the Week: A cohesive, understated effort for this Ghost"

3.5/ 4 STARS

Ghosts, by their very nature, are not contented. They are disembodied, in an ornery state of flux – an unresolved state of transition that results in them being haunting, mischievous and generally frustrated. There are no cheery ghosts, but if there were any, there would be no degree to their happiness, let alone three exclamation points.

Extra Happy Ghost!!! is the project of Calgary’s Matthew Swann, a bedroom recorder who has moved on from home electronics for his first full-length album. Modern Horses was made in the studio operated by Chad VanGaalen, the indie-rock superhero who recorded the nine lingering, minimalist, sixties-reverbed tracks of this cohesive, understated black-and-white effort.

The album’s closing number is its namesake, a downbeat drone of windy, whirring tape noises, morose he-she vocals and a sparse guitar motif that comes and goes. The song Modern Horses – there are no such things as “modern” horses by the way, just evermore confused ones in an increasingly advanced world – considers a small pack of them who, in their panic of being herded into downtown Calgary, jumped off a bridge in 2005.

“The modern horses,” guest singer Laura Leif deadpans, “know how few things they control.”

The preceding Haunted House is equally subdued, but with a queer organ and a lone, disembodied voice – the ghost of Dennis Wilson? – at work. Superstition, a broken neck and a “massive harm in the garage” are involved.

Lyrics of Swann’s intrigue, though I don’t catch all the drifts. Themes of helplessness and chance, I think, play a part. Suffocation, too. “Hypoxia take me down with gentle power,” Swann offers slackly on the retro-groovy hazy pop of Mercy Mercy, the word “power” accentuated with a burst of extra-awesome(!!!) echo.

I’m sure I’m giving you the wrong idea about this record, an excellent follow-up to the descriptively titled 2009 EP How the Beach Boys Sound to Those With No Feelings. It’s lo-fi, uncluttered, head-nodding existentialism that isn’t dreary. Fire on Fire, in fact, is something you could shimmy to lightly.

Neither horses nor ghosts were harmed in the recording. Pitch-correcting software for Swann’s vocals was not employed. Drums are simplistic. Guitar solos do not figure, though the saggy strum of j23439 has a bit of a dissonant freak-out to it.

Ghosts aren’t happy, Swann probably realizes; the exclamatory emphasis is classic sardonic punctuation. And very few tamed horses are optimistic. People often are, but that doesn’t mean they know any better. Modern Horses and Extra Happy Ghost!!! make all the sense in the world after all. - Globe and Mail

"Lab Coast/ Extra Happy Ghost!!!"

Split seven-inch singles are often targeted at the most discerning of record collectors, yet they can be passed over with a simple flip of an index finger, never to be seen or heard from again. You would hope that this fate doesn't befall the first split seven-inch from Calgary, AB's Saved By Vinyl label. Their mission is to expose Calgary's music scene to the world, and they've picked some worthy ambassadors in Lab Coast and Extra Happy Ghost!!! All those exclamation points are part of the name, you see. No Elaine Benes-style revenge here, though the two songs that EXG!!! provide are fairly invigorating, in the manner only lo-fi basement pop can be. "1990's Brain Damage" is an aptly titled stomp dedicated to the thousands of fuzzy, jangly bands that littered the decade. "Mechanical 111" introduces some low-grade keyboards to the mix, but gives a glimpse into the barren Calgary apartment where these tracks were recorded. Lab Coast's efforts are no less intriguing. "For Now" is a slice of the sunny, carefree pop that's currently sweeping indie circles and "82 I Will Be You" manages to captivate with a charming harmony in less than 90 seconds. This is the kind of split seven-inch that may inspire you to spend a little more time in the seven-inch bin. - Exclaim

"Anti-Hit List by John Sakamoto"

Song Reviewed: Sympathy for the Moron
Beneath the surface of this song's lo-fi kitchen acoustics, it's the clash between the calm lyrics (sample: "Don't run away from my conversation/About all the brilliant things I've done") and the blunt trauma of a guitar solo that transforms this song into a riveting interior dialogue. - Toronto Star

"Essential Tracks by Robert Everett-Green"

Song Reviewed: Mash-Up: Neither Being Nor Nothingness
Calgary's Matthew Swann and friends conjure up a hustling pop tune from buzzy bass tones, peppy drum beats and a little bleeping signal that sounds like your mobile received a text message. It's like all our coolest appliances conspired to make a song, and it's good.

- The Globe and Mail

"1990's Brain Damage"

This brand new sludgy grunge song sounds like it was written and recorded twenty years ago in a garage on a rainy day while wearing flannel and bruised knees from skateboarding the neighbor’s plywood halfpipe all morning. The Calgary lo-fiers are known for their CD-R and tape releases such as the excellently named EP How the Beach Boys Sound to Those With No Feelings.

Pick up this track on the Saved By Vinyl Records split 7” with Lab Coast. - YVYNYL

"The Alabama Hot Pocket Award for Bedroom Innovation"

There’s no way to describe the shared aesthetic of Lab Coast and Extra Happy Ghost!!! without making them sound like a sloppy afterbirth of 2010 buzzwords. They’re lo-fi, home-recorded, swaddled in reverb, and a just little sun-bleached. Yet both bands seem to come by their sounds honestly, driven by the whimsical sense of freedom that comes, ironically, with low-production-value limits. These songs aren’t just being played—they’re being played with. They transmit the joy of fudging around on some half-broken synth in your basement, of writing without stopping to think. And it’s this sense of tinkering, as well as the unabashed celebration of melody, that make this 7” from two unheard-of Calgary artists one of the most uncomplicatedly enjoyable releases I’ve heard all year.

The EP kicks off with a dirty crash cymbal sizzling over a toy piano in Lab Coast’s “For Now,” a perfectly abrupt opening for a ten-minute record jam-packed with hooks, echoes, tinned-out guitars, keyboard burps, and other musical minutiae. This sounds like the audio equivalent of a packrat kid’s bedroom—marbles and mason jars and tent pegs and bottlecaps spilling onto every available surface. Or it sounds like a radio with the dial set at the fuzzy edge of a 90s college radio station. Or it sounds like the cuttings of slacker rock growing wild, roots reaching in every direction.

Lab Coast offer the album’s most upbeat moments, with “For Now” equally distributing its hooks between instruments, and “Will I Be” bouncing on a tide of guitar jangle. The usual half-asleep fuzz pop is here wide-eyed and alert, maybe even a little hyper. Imagine Pavement after a few too many cups of coffee. Still, their ambitions never get out of hand. Unlike most revivalists , Lab Coast never give the impression that they’re trying too hard. In fact, singer David Laing references the slacker-dom head-on in “For Now,” asking, “Why don’t you do the things you say you have to do?” It’s a disarmingly straightforward question aimed right at the heart of Generation Y—the very same people to whom Lab Coast’s songs will feel instantly, nostalgically familiar. In the case of Lab Coast’s music, the medium and message chase each other’s tails, laziness here being the zenith of accomplishment.

Extra Happy Ghost!!! are in slightly murkier territory than their album-mates, both in terms of genre and sound. The songs remain lo-fuzz, with the satisfying wet towel-slaps of the snares still landing solidly on the backbeats, but EHG!!! dabble and experiment within the confines they’ve set for themselves. “1990s Brain Damage” features falsetto harmonies and a keyboard solo that sounds like white noise being pushed around with a dial. “Mechanical 111” includes vocals that sound like they’ve been shot out into space. Yet these songs are inescapably catchy, despite a hint of melancholy and lyrical abstraction. “1990s Brain Damage” is the EP’s slow jam, a dejected, lurching track that is nevertheless more disheartened than outright depressed. “Mechanical 111,” meanwhile, lays a sad-robot narrative over the celebratory echoes of organs and drum machines. “When you’re gone, how I miss the hum,” sings Matthew Swann, and whatever it means, it’s clearly the clearest articulation of sadness he’s willing to offer.

This EP runs the gamut of shambling ’90s college-radio lo-fi rock—which admittedly isn’t much of a gamut, but it’s enough to remind listeners of the genre’s merits, and of why bedroom recordings and junked toys are going to remain in play no matter how technology evolves. Not just because of their retro cachet, but because they’re fun. Making music is pleasure, this record reminds us. Behind closed doors, this is what is happening in the bedrooms of the nation.
- cokemachineglow.com

"Hot Time Sartre in the City"

You take someone and you push them. You push them into the spotlight of mainstream Canadian rock. College rock. That someone plays to thousands of smashed 18 year-olds trying to find themselves in a gravity-well of debauchery; it’s beer gardens and they are the soundtrack to every fratt-kid’s blurred existence. If you keep doing this (keep pushing), eventually your weird bassist is going trap himself in the bedroom and emerge anew with six eerie pop songs crafted by someone sailing towards their creative zenith. Wasted double-tracked solos, distorted Nintendo, chamber-folk, and Sartre are brewed together into a frothy mead worthy of the greatest basement-viking. Kanpai! - weirdcanada.com

"Rocking with a Ghost"

Rocking with a ghost
Matt Swann takes aim at irony with bedroom pop project
Published July 23, 2009 by Jesse Locke in Music Previews

More in: Rock / Pop
Back in 1964, Edmonton native, educator and philosopher Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase “the medium is the message.” In the years following, musicians such as Bill Callahan, John Darnielle and the majority of the early K Records roster took the lesson to heart, adding to the emotional vulnerability of their songs by presenting them in bare-bones lo-fi fashion, stripped of the armour of polished studio production. Now in 2009, Calgary’s Matt Swann (a.k.a. Extra Happy Ghost!!!) has carried on the tradition with his aptly titled, heart-on-sleeve home-recorded debut How the Beach Boys Sound to Those with No Feelings.

“If I had recorded in a big studio, the engineer or producer would have known what they were doing, as opposed to myself, who was completely clueless,” Swann explains with a laugh. “Instead of fighting that, I just let it inform the esthetic. I’m a neurotic head-case and I almost feel embarrassed saying this, but I think the songs are surprisingly earnest. At points, there’s a lot of sadness and anxiety, but it’s also very hidden. They’re strangely non-ironic and I don’t know how cool that is.”

Though he’s assembled a crack band to perform his songs live (Laura Leif of The Consonant C and Secret Brothers, along with the members of Seizure Salad, Andrew Hume and Britt Proulx), Swann still describes Extra Happy Ghost!!! as “an outlet in the midst of my fun, rock stuff.” As the most recent member to join Calgary stalwarts Hot Little Rocket, he’s spent the past few years playing bass for the steadily touring four-piece, using any spare time to record the six songs of Beach Boys on a bottom-of-the-line 8-track. Overcoming irony may not be a primary lyrical theme, but the concept certainly comes across in Swann’s heartfelt tunes, despite the fact that their melodies are obscured under layers of fuzz.

“I think there’s a lot of irony in pop culture and hipster circles, so to speak, and in many cases it’s a mechanism of self-protection,” he says. “That’s something that I completely understand, because it can be difficult to share your feelings or be earnest, but I also don’t think it’s necessarily a good thing. It can be cute to a point, but it’s weird that art has turned towards irony and away from expressing deeper thoughts, feelings and being a vehicle for introspection. That said, there’s almost a meta-irony to my album as well, just because of the ridiculous song titles that are completely unrelated to the music.”

Indeed, titles such as “Hot Times Sartre in the City,” “Sympathy for the Moron,” and “Mash-Up: Neither Being Nor Nothingness” may simply be high and low culture-referencing red herrings, but they also point to Swann’s background and continued interest in existentialism and Eastern religion. Still, he quickly points out how firmly his tongue was planted in cheek.

“When I was in university, my degree was in Indian philosophy and I primarily studied early Indian Buddhism, going on to do a master’s in French and German philosophy,” Swann explains. “Just to clarify, though, a lot of my references to that kind of thing are just jokes, because they’re the things I’m most familiar with. I’m not trying to write a treatise on existential philosophy or anything like that.”

One thing he’s definitely attempting to express is a wide range of emotions, from sad to extra happy, bittersweet to slyly funny. The best example of Swann’s sense of humour comes at the tail end of “These Are the Facts in an Endless Regress,” as he sings “We could watch 2001 2,001 times, we could watch 2001 2,002 times.” It’s played for laughs to be sure, but also inspires a final contemplation on expression.

“I’m a huge fan of the movie, just because of the minimalism taken to such an exaggerated degree,” says Swann. “Lots of people think it’s self-indulgent, which is a really loaded term. I think a lot of good art is self-indulgent, and it kind of has to be. There’s some truth to that line as well, because when I bought 2001 for the first time on DVD, I probably did watch it 25 times.”
- FFWD Magazine

"Extra Happy Ghost !!! by Joe Veroni"

No harmonies. No surfing. How the Beach Boys Sound to Those with No Feelings is a minimalist’s take on the psych-rock scene. Matthew Swann, credited with vocals and “noise” amongst other instruments, leads the way for Calgary’s Extra Happy Ghost!!! What this 18-minute EP does have is plenty of disaffection and plenty of distortion. EHG!!! don’t mind taking a weird look at pop music through foggy eyes (“Hot Time Sartre in the City”). The six tunes are noticeably concise and minimal, driving straight to the heart of the band’s take on psych-rock (“These Are the Facts in an Endless Regress”). Swann and company combine slow, morose tunes with rising noisy pitches and distortion, leaving the listener in a daze (“Sympathy for the Moron”). The feeling of the whole is a little like downing some stolen Xanax after sipping a fifth of Jack for a few hours; there’s a definite haze surrounding this EP, but is well worth a listen. - Spillmagazine.com

"Extra Happy Ghost !!! Review"

Extra Happy Ghost!!! is the one-man band created by Matthew Swann who is better known as the bassist in the Calgary bandHot Little Rocket. Swann recorded this short little EP (about 18 minutes in length) in his apartment and then added additional drums and mixed the tracks elsewhere. The hilariously titled How The Beach Boys Sound To Those With No Feelings presents six peculiar lo-fi pop tunes with a remarkable emphasis on lyrics and vocal melodies. We hate rating EPs because they only seem to give an initial impression of what an artist is all about. So in this case we're going to leave this one unrated. But we do want to mention that Swann has a killer knack for coming up with some fantastic melodic hooks.
- BabySue.com

"Instant Playlist"

Extra Happy Ghost!!!
Sympathy for the Moron (Saved by Radio)
Not a riff on what may be the Rolling Stones’ finest moment, but instead a weirdly lo-fi exercise in tension-drenched, robotic indie rock. Don’t miss the skronk- tastic guitar insanity at the 2:08 mark. - Straight (June, 23 2009)


Debut 10" 'How the Beach Boys Sound to Those with no Feelings' July 2009 Saved by Radio.

Split 7" w/ Lab Coast
October 2010 Saved by Radio

Modern Horses
July 2011 Saved By Radio



extra happy ghost!!! used to say, "happiness is not found at the end of a rainbow, it lays in a sensory deprivation chamber with 'red headed stranger' playing on repeat". it turns out, that requires sound - now they say nothing.