Cool Ghouls Credit: Arvel Hernandez

Since forming in 2011, San Francisco quartet Cool Ghouls have made a virtue of no-frills consistency, doing little to disguise their devotion to 60s garage pop. Loose, chiming guitars ring out over chugging rhythms, but it’s their singing—which borrows from the early Beach Boys without sweating shortcomings in pitch or precise harmony—that makes each album a keeper. Cool Ghouls have definitely gotten better with time. On last year’s terrific Animal Races (Empty Cellar) melodies are catchier than ever—during a song like “Sundial” vocal parts hit with assurance, their three-part harmonies cutting through a charmingly shambolic din. The following “Time Capsule” proves that the foursome haven’t ditched their predilection for keeping things hazy and slack, while “When You Were Gone” dabbles gently in a weird soul-country hybrid. Still, I wasn’t prepared for some of the more aggressive shifts captured on the band’s great new tour cassette, Gord’s Horse: there’s the moody Mellotron-sopped instrumental opener “Ring for the Mole” and the deliciously ambling title track, which is a kind of denatured, spacey folk-rock song that expertly insinuates itself into the brain in spite of its washed-out vibe. While the shaggy tape-manipulation nonsense of “Legs in September” definitely feels like tour-release filler, there are several new gems in the band’s more classic spirit. As a whole it only strengthens Cool Ghouls’ position as one of my favorite rock groups over the last year or two.   v