Phantom Family Halo

The Legend of Black Six

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The Phantom Family Halo are a willful anachronism, seemingly having heard no music past 1980. Even the production is retro on The Legend of Black Six. Instead of modern sheen and over-compression, the sound is natural and dynamic; drums actually sound like drums. Each song has its own identity, so much so that the album lacks one. It sounds "old," but that could mean any number of things, and this band tries them all out. "Black River" bounces along on Beatlesque bass. "Slender Head" dips into Hawkwind-esque psychedelia, while "In the Back of My Head" suggests a less dangerous Stooges. None of these are complete replicas. Despite the authentic instrumentation and all the right notes, there's a streamlined efficiency here that's quite modern. In fact, "Lady Blue" and "Stop the Biting" evoke the bluesy side of Sonic Youth. Other moments evoke a more robust Folk Implosion -- or a tamer Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. The band does stretch out once, on a psychedelic, 15-minute final track loaded with potential hip-hop samples. Most music plunders from other music; for better or for worse, this record is an acute example.

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