The Phantom Band: Strange Friend (Chemikal Underground) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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The Phantom Band

Strange Friend

Chemikal Underground

Sep 04, 2014 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

The first 10 seconds of Strange Friend is all you need to realize that listening through it is going to beif nothing elsefun. The punchy analog synths of opener “The Wind that Cried the World” have all the charming sparkle of the 8-bit ditties that soundtrack your dusty old Nintendo titles. When frontman Rick Anthony adds his baritone to the mix, it sounds like The National’s Matt Berninger has found the cure to his depression in vintage arcade games. Throw this in with the record sleevea collage of neon geometric planes and goopy, psychedelic comic book illustrationand you’re primed for adventure.

This momentum carries through the motoric race of “Clapshot” and the following “Doom Patrol”a chugging march of hummingbird guitars that may be the album’s highlightbut drops off suddenly with “Atacama,” a bluesy acoustic number that comes from left field. “(Invisible) Friends” and the rave-tent-ready “Sweatbox” fit right into Strange Friend‘s playful universe, but other moments, notably “Old Shoe Blues” and the rambling “Galapagos” feel out of place.

It may be moot to fuss over tonal disparities on a record that has such kinetic energy. The half-tempo breakdown in “Doom Patrol” has the indulgent glee of teenagers jamming in the garage, and the remarkably imaginative drumming throughout is worth noting. The Phantom Band may have done better to be a bit more selective in the studio, but they were probably too busy enjoying themselves to bother. (

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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