by Justin Wilder
Special to iVoryTowerz
Vocalist Alex Greenwald of Southern California's Phantom Planet insists in an interview in Billboard that even though the band was dropped by its label Epic, and a few band members left over the years, the group never really considered breaking up. Maybe they should have just cut their losses and quit before releasing their newest record, Raise the Dead.
No matter what the members of Phantom Planet do with the rest of their musical careers, they will most likely be labeled as the dudes who penned the anthemic theme song for The OC, "California." Either that or that actor Jason Schwartzman once was their drummer. In any case, Phantom Planet's, Raise the Dead has neither Jason Schwartzman or a single that comes close to the guilty pleasure that was "California."
Inspired by cult leaders such as Charles Manson, Jim Jones and David Koresh, Raise the Dead was written and recorded over an eighteen month period, beginning in late 2006. This inspiration is evident in the lyrics, more than the cheap Beatles soundscape spit out by the foursome. On the track "Confess," vocalist Greenwald yells "Do you have something to confess?" over and over again as swirls of orchestration fill the air. The Beatles' influences could come from their Fueled By Ramen labelmates Panic At The Disco, which recently released Pretty. Odd. The thievery on Raise the Dead is much more subdued than that release but much less effective.
There are a few catchy tracks on the disc.
The lead single, "Do The Panic" has ba-ba sha-doobadoo's and all sorts of Pro Tools audio tricks that create the perfect chart topping single. The last track on the record, "I Don't Mind" is a pretty pleasing acoustic track until it fades out into random, meaningless noise a la the Wilco sonic masterpiece "Less Than You Think." The only difference being that Wilco utilizes such noisy experimentation effectively.
I feel like that is a theme throughout this album. There are a few different influences and sounds that are impacting the grand experiment that Greenwald sees as Phantom Planet and he doesn't really understand how to use them.
(Promotional photo of Phantom Planet from Fueled by Ramen Records. The band plays Tulsa, OK tonight, the latest stop on their tour of the U.S. To see Phantom Planet play "Do the Panic" from Raise the Dead on Jimmy Kimmel Live please check below.)
Raise the Dead
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by Justin Wilder