Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Meah! / Phantom Family Halo split on Sophomore Lounge Records

The split seven inch has introduced flip side bands to fans of just the single side and can be the format to experiment, show some range or include an unreleased cover. In the case of this split on Sophomore Lounge from Meah! and Phantom Family Halo it could include all three.

"Kids/summer" is seriously bombastic, with literal kids (I think) in the background and beginning of this. I happened to just be listening to Health's s/t from '07 and there's similarities here in the heavy chopped up tom beats, cacophonous guitars and alternating heavy cymbals. But Meah! goes from a heavy hardcore feel to bouncing along like Zs with a jaw harp...or whistling the next measure. They create a crazy tension that's hard to wrap your head around, from childlike 'ha's' to blasts of hardcore tom, blown out with heavy distortion, then a rawhide country line dance blows in to build and build this to a mathy conclusion that leaves nothing but questions behind. Like 'how is a three piece making this much noise?' and 'What do they listen to?'. It uses a hip hop vocal rhythm for a drop out. Whirring guitars are so impossibly chopped up like hearing Battles for the first time. What are they trying to do? What led them here? Bizarre and impossible to pull this off live, let's just say they must take some liberties when reinterpreting this. A growly southern soul blues sound comes from the vocal for a second, but how they work this jaw harp into blast beats is a first. "Mystics" has a feedback low hum of a simple bass line and they're slowing things way down from that panic'd opening. I think one of the lyrics is '...microwaved fish sticks'? Here they caught Natural Child, high and yearning for some Gordon's fishermans. This one breathes big and stretches out...a three piece that has a ridiculous eye on each other to put together free jazz noise bursts out of any alternate tuning. They make you hear all that training every measure. Phaser wah guitars, before the laid back sound gets seriously heavy with a full throttle arrangement like some kind of Captain Beefheart Sabbath combination.

Phantom Family Halo drop a cover on the B-Side of Red Crayola, and it's always great to have a band I'm unfamiliar with make you reconsider a classic again. A lot of times and especially on a B-Side its there to educate, but then this is their only song on the split? I thought they were going in a super crazy direction when I played this at 33, but Sophomore got away with two different speeds on either side, you don't see that everyday. They cover "Hurricane Fighter Plane" sufficiently slow and crafting a hallowed out crackling ghostly echo, you have to hear to have an understanding of the lengths this took, or the flies buzzing around. The lead vocal has a soul sound trying to burst out. The slow train rhythm marches on and this is a version that you could manage to play forever. They pick up the essential elements and make this as minimal and post as possible. All the way to the very end, still figuring out if they compressed the drums so well they could be interchangeable with a beat or thats some better than average drum machine. It's a nice questionable blend of the real and fake, a fantastic cover that makes me want to revisit the original check out Phantom Family Halo more in the future since they went this far to pay such serious homage.

Pick up this split on clear coke bottle blue from Sophomore Lounge Records.

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