Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#855 in the Series) is The Phantom Six, Plastic Rain
Sitting on the outskirts of Morgantown, WV near the lunacy that is West Virginia University ( voted the “Number One” party school in the nation on and off for years by many different publications ) comes one of the best, well hidden garage bands out there today; The Phantom Six and their phenomenal debut, Plastic Rain.
Under the direction of lead vocalist/guitarist/songwriter/producer, Mark Poole (at his own Zone 8 Recording Studio, an often swelteringly hot, two room laboratory where Poole is both Jekyll and Hyde), this album is full of cool, crisp leads and rich, enigmatic lyrics. Add to it the floating harmonies and you get this fully produced gem with no empty space for the ear. It is brilliantly busy yet still tight.
The opening track, “Corianna,” starts us off with a sonic boom of guitars and big back beats from Clint Sutton’s pumped up drums telling us the story of a mysterious obsession with a girl from the past. Quickly followed by “Inspiration,” another great lyric about a strange muse of a girl, and we have the perfect recipe to start our pop/rock cocktail.
The title track with its power chords and big hand claps is fun and “Scenes Like This” with its Kinks-like, doot-doot-doot backing vocals and the Keith Moon-like fills of Sutton (who is a real highlight throughout the album) show us that Poole is a great songsmith and a really versatile vocalist. He even shows off a fun falsetto voice over some great head-banging instrumentations and Brian May type guitar fills on “Losing Control.”
There are the sweet, threaded harmonies of the ballad, “Shades of Sunday,” and some country twang straight out of the Alex Chilton school of Memphis Pop on “Big Airplane” and Poole and guitarists William Sheeder trade off perfectly crafted leads over the entire cd. The showpiece for the entire band is the track, “Help Back”, with its flowing riff and some virtuoso, spiraling bass work by Billy Matheny in addition to many grooving, stop/start breaks, rave-ups and tags. The album ends with a number, “Envelope” that is right out of The Zombies‘ “Odyssey and Oracle”.
There are snippets of The Romantics, Tom Petty and Big Star as well as the aforementioned 60’s British Invasion bands yet the band still has an original sound that is all its own with Poole’s familiar West Virginia drawl that we all know and love in my neck of the woods. This may be their first cd but these guys have been playing music with each other for a long time in other variations of this band and it shows in every fun filled, danceable track.
West Virginia may be primarily known for its coal, but the Phantom Six would be the states musical diamond mine.
– Bubby Lewis, Frostburg, Maryland USA
(The Phanton Six photo above by Suzanne Reynolds)
- Corianna 2:34
- Inspiration 3:44
- About Love 4:08
- Plastic Rain 2:59
- Scenes Like This 3:30
- Losing Control 3:56
- Don’t Make Me 3:44
- Into My Dreams 3:57
- Shades of Sunday 4:13
- Emily Einstein 3:54
- Big Airplane 4:30
- Help Back 3:33
- Envelope 2:35
- Mark Poole – lead vocals, guitar
- Billy Matheny – bass, backing vocals
- Clint Sutton – drums, backing vocals
- William Sheeder – guitar, backing vocals
- Woody O’Hara -percussion, backing vocals
Listen to a few tracks below