There’s a lot of significance attached to Tiny Ghosts’ recent single release “What For?” It’s not only become the duo’s most successful original single release thus far, but it also marked the first song that they actually recorded together in person since Tiny Ghosts began. That may seem curious on the surface, but it makes perfect sense if you get to know a little bit about their history. Most of their early recording was done virtually, with lead singer Dayan Marquina and guitarist Eric Morgan emailing tracks band and forth to flesh them out. Just writing and recording like that turned this side project into a full-fledged obsession for the two, which really helped their personal friendship blossom as well.
Marquina is originally from Peru. She eventually moved to North Carolina where she quickly became immersed in the local music scene. Just a few weeks after moving, she attended her first concert in the U.S., an AFI club show, right around the early 2000s when the band was not that established yet. That night, she met Morgan who was also in attendance at the show, and it wasn’t long before the two began to connect over their love of early 2000s emo.
Considering the origins of Tiny Ghosts, it comes as no shock that they are massive AFI fans. Today, both Marquina and Morgan share with us a rundown of their favourite AFI albums, from bottom to top, and what makes each one significant to them.
11. Crash Love (September 29, 2009, via Interscope)
Marquina: Crash Love is very different from their last 2 albums. It evokes memories of Sing the Sorrow, but with a unique twist. Davey Havok’s vocals showcase a broad range of tones and textures, revealing his growth and evolution as a vocalist. The album as a whole offers a diverse range of sounds (very poppy but I love it), showcasing skillfully crafted songs with irresistible hooks and guitar riffs.
Favourite Song: “Medicate”
10. Bodies (June 11, 2021, via Rise Records)
Morgan: I don’t like having this at tenth, it feels a little too cliché to rate their latest album least. Bodies (read our album review here) is not a bad album. Leaning into their new wave influences more, this record is heavy on atmospheric synths and set at a more restrained pace — with (lead singer) Davey being soaring and infectious as ever. However, in the end, this album lacked the identity and chill-inducing moments that the rest of the catalog has in droves.
Favourite Song: “Looking Tragic”
9. AFI – The Blood Album (January 20, 2017, via Concord)
Morgan: After getting back into the band via their 2013 reinvention, this was the first AFI album I had actively been anticipating since Sing The Sorrow. While it didn’t quite live up to the grandiosity of Burials, I really enjoyed the stripped-down approach to a dark pop-rock. The more guitar-driven songs help bridge this matured version of AFI to their Nitro Records era while still pushing themselves forward into new territory.
Favourite Song: “Hidden Knives”
8. Decemberunderground (June 6, 2006, via Interscope)
Marquina: This album came out in 2006 and I was in college, older and wiser (not really (laughs)), but I was at a time where I had definitely welcomed other types of music into my life. I would compare this album to Sing The Sorrow still, but it had a little bit of a new and different sound, which I pinpointed to having more electronic effects and synths incorporated into a lot of the songs which really gave it a distinct contrast compared to their previous albums.
And for me at that time it blew my little head off, great album! Ten out of ten, and a total time traveler, it is so nostalgic for me.
Favourite Song: “Summer Shudder”
7. Very Proud of Ya (June 18, 1996, via Nitro)
Morgan: A classic bay hardcore album with a few sneakily catchy tracks that have stood the test of time. One of my best friends and old bandmate had this album in his Kia Spectra’s CD player for an entire year and I feel like I can still sing along to all 20 tracks. Like ATASF, the song formula was simple, ultra fast-paced straightforward punk but I really dig Davey’s varied screaming delivery on this record.
Favourite Song: “The Secret Ninja”
6. Shut Your Mouth And Open Your Eyes (November 11, 1997, via Nitro)
Marquina: This magnificent album came out in 1997 so I didn’t listen to it until I was about 13 (in 2000). I realized if you listen to these albums in order you can hear the band evolve and especially Davey’s vocal deliverance. He started to get more melodic, this is prior to Black Sails In The Sunset so you can REALLY HEAR how they got there if you listen to this one! ‘A Single Second’ is one of my favourite songs on this album, and it’s very interesting, super fast still, but the chorus is so chanty and there are multiple tracks of Davey’s vocals with different melodies which I love.
Favourite Song: “A Single Second”
5. Burials (October 22, 2013, via Republic)
Morgan: After Sing The Sorrow, I admittedly stopped following the band’s next couple of releases as I was getting into heavier music and starting to play in metalcore bands. Crash Love especially felt very forced and further progressed into predictable radio-rock territory. Burials felt like a kind of reset for the band where they didn’t have the same commercial pressure, and I think that freedom showed in how fresh the album turned out.
Much more electronic and synth influences are present on this release, but done fairly tastefully and help shift the trademark AFI ‘darkness’ from their goth era to a more cinematic, mature sound. Songs like ‘Heart Stops’ show off how catchy this new dark indie-pop sound can be without feeling like you’re still stuck in a suburban Hot Topic. This is what I think of as the band’s third (and current) phase and one that I think has them blossoming again.
Favourite Song: “A Deep Slow Panic”
4. Answer That And Stay Fashionable (August 1, 1995, via Wingnut)
Marquina: I did not get into AFI until the release of The Art of Drowning so I didn’t have a listen to their early stuff until after that, Answer That and Stay Fashionable was the first fast-paced punk rock album I heard from them and I quickly fell in love with it. Davey’s vocals sound so young, the drums are super fast, the punchy trashy guitar riffs and everything in between makes this album a true punk rock classic. I don’t think I can pick a favourite from this record, I find myself repeating the angry ‘Half-Empty Bottle’ song a lot, but I do absolutely LOVE the comical side of ‘I Wanna Get a Mohawk.’”
Favourite Song: “I Wanna Get a Mohawk (But Mom Won’t Let Me Get One)”
3. Sing The Sorrow (March 11, 2003, via DreamWorks)
Marquina: Ok, I feel like this one opened the doors for AFI’s dark and moody side. It HAD to be on my top five, despite the fact that it’s an overall amazing record, it came out in 2003 when I was in 10th grade so the nostalgia just pours out of each and every song. One of my favourite songs is ‘Dancing Through Sunday,’ Jade’s (Puget) guitar solo is incredible.
Favourite Song: “Dancing Through Sunday”
2. The Art Of Drowning (September 19, 2000, via Nitro)
Marquina: This album is a gem, I was only about 13 when it came out and it made such an impact on my musical taste, this is the second full-length album that they continued to experiment with different sounds and slowly migrating away from the fast punk vibe. To no one’s surprise, my favourite songs from this album are ‘Days of the Phoenix’ and ‘Morning Star.’ ‘Morning Star’s’ slow and quiet melodic buildup to such a loud and crashing end is absolutely chef’s kiss.
Favourite Song: “Morning Star”
1. Black Sails In The Sunset (May 18, 1999, via Nitro)
Morgan: Black Sails is an absolute thrill front to back and was one of those legendary albums released at the perfect time. This was the first album with Jade Puget on guitar, and his more lush, complex playing was the secret ingredient that propelled all the success that would come for AFI. It’s a fantastic hardcore album in itself, but we start getting more melodic sections, especially from Davey’s vocals, adding a layer of complexity that gives this album its magic and makes the hardcore sections even more impactful. The album’s finale gives us the first AFI ballad in ‘God Called In Sick Today,’ an emotional and brooding ending that is as close to perfection as you can get for a closer.
Favourite Song: “The Last Kiss”