Tight Phantomz

Crazy When Wet

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Tight Phantomz first appeared with 2004's Nightfool EP. It didn't really cash in on great song titles like "Ninja Talk" and "$3 Relapse," but the Chicago trio (featuring Mike Lust and Jay Dandurand, ex of Lustre King) proved it wouldn't back down in a revivalist hard rock fight with Bad Wizard or Fu Manchu. Crazy When Wet is more of the same -- stinging riffs, pounding drums, and vocals like a tumbledown Marc Bolan. But it also feels like something made with love for decades yore. "Hash Sisters" has a thumping cowbell and lyrics about teenage queens, "Stranded" crosses the legacies of Nazareth and the Sweet (complete with fizzy keyboards and high harmonies in the chorus), and "DUI in St. Charles" has some particularly stinging guitar work from Lust. The record misses whenever you get the feeling the Phantomz are sort of kidding around. With Bad Wizard or some of the Gearhead label's hard rock outfits, there's the sense that they were born to do it, while the Tight Phantomz can be tongue-in-cheek -- their cover art, after all, features an indie rock dude slipping 'n' sliding into a Marshall stack. But "Do Us All a Favor" remedies that -- it sounds like a real song instead of a collection of "Yeah!"s, riffs, and weed references -- and "Sorry, Baby" is an eccentric mid-album ballad with weird string effects and weepy reverb. The Phantomz also include a gentle read of Fleetwood Mac's "Albatross," and finish out the album with a studio tone that oscillates forebodingly. So it's not all Godzilla guitars and bongs in rec rooms. There's a connection to that creepy side of the 1970s, the dark spaces that brought on the Mac's penguin fetish and the queasy allure of Al Stewart's "Year of the Cat." Some groups are hard rock purists, and that's awesome. Tight Phantomz seem to be laughing, rocking, and paying homage all at the same time, and that's fine too.

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