Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Phantom Band's The Wants is Strangely Exquisite

The Phantom BandThe Phantom Band is one of the most apt monikers for a group that used to change names as often as they changed underwear. For a long time, they even chose a different name every time they played.

For awhile they stuck with the name Robert Louis Stevenson, but old habits die hard. They finally settled on The Phantom Band.

An elusive name isn't the only mysterious thing associated with the band. The music defies labels and genres. The Wants, released in late October on the Chemikal Underground label, is the band's second album, building on their impressive and unnoticed debut, Checkmate Savage.

The Wants by The Phantom Band is mystical, intricate, and unsettling.

This isn't meant in a bad way. Each song is unique, but on their own aren't as good as the whole album. There is a bigger story to be discovered woven together with each consecutive song, making The Wants better enjoyed from start to finish.

The most epic song is The None Of One. It's an adventurous outing. Just when you think you know where they might take it, they change directions. It builds and then explodes.

Musically and lyrically, Into the Corn is the standout. And, oddly, none of the band members ever heard the song in entirety until they heard the playback, well after the recording. As for the rest, slate Come Away in the Dark as a nice ballad with some striking E-bow on the chorus, and a nice clip by a driving bass in O. There isn't a suitable vide to show you, but this one from the last album provides a nice preview.

There are also fuzzy guitars, soulful vocals, odd drum machines, homemade instruments, strong songwriting, and a mix of folk, Krautrock, rock, and who knows what else. You might hear some early REM (and even that is a stretch) but there are no indications of any obvious influences. It's all good. This Scottish band has been around long enough to know what they want to be.

It all came together when a bunch of long-time friends hooked up in 2002 to form a band, mostly for fun. Then it turned into something worthwhile. And now, Rick Anthony (vocals), Damien Tonner (drums), Greg Sinclair (guitars), Duncan Marquiss (guitars), Gerry Hart (bass), and Andy Wake (keyboards) earn every inch of exposure.

The Phantom Band’s The Wants Earns A Mystical 5.9 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

This is the kind of album that makes it interesting to see what is on deck next for The Phantom Band. They wrapped up some European dates in August, but I'm still waiting to see where else they might play or if they will make it to the States. You can keep tabs on The Phantom Band on Facebook.

Or, enjoy the unsettling sound of The Wants by The Phantom Band on iTunes. You can also get The Wants on Amazon.
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