The Scaramanga Six – Phantom Head (Wrath Records)
Not usually my thing isn’t modern rock, but I always think everything deserves one listen. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with Phantom Head’, a collection of twelve tracks which are underground rock, yes, but pretty entertaining too. Based around brothers Paul and Steven Morricone, they bring well-made melodies and screeches in a variety of styles from pop to punk that often reminded me of New Model Army. Along the way, they also made me think of Ian McNabb/Icicle Works, particularly on opener, ‘I Will Crush Your Heart’ which could have been quite easily lifted from their ‘Defeat Your Enemy’ album.
They’ve been around for about fifteen years and have always released stuff on their own label, and, during that time have built themselves a following and critical acclaim along the way. Such is their reputation that they have managed to get legendary Stooges and Nirvana producer, Steve Albini, to contribute to the album which was recorded live. Everything from their sessions in Chicago is included here.
‘I Am The Rain’ has an anthemic chorus and the addition of a second drummer on the album adds real potency. We have hints of gospel on the brilliant ‘The Bristol Butcher’ which also has a hint of The Who’s ‘Pinball Wizard’, progressing into Led Zeppelin (‘Whole Lotta Love’), with a little punk thrown in for good measure. The diversity of the album is such that it makes it very enjoyable and listenable.
The guitars are tight, the melodies are memorable and effective and the production is spot-on. ‘Blunt Force Trauma’ is rockier still, but still holds together a great with power.
Album highlight is ‘Twist The Knife’ which it’s spoken vocal and explosive chorus reminiscent of Pixies, loose guitar and striking bass, it’s a killer lyric too. If you listen to no more of this album, then make sure you listen to this track.
Closer, ‘The Stepford Bands’ is again a lesson in songwriting. Opening with a great melody and venturing into another roaring rock effort. A fitting end to a good solid album.
Oh, and it’s got a great album sleeve.
Published on Louder Than War 23/04/13 - http://louderthanwar.com/the-scaramanga-six-phanthom-head-album-review/