The Phantom Beat
Most of the time, albums are pretty predictable. You have a pretty good idea of what you are going to hear before the laser starts reading the disc. There are, of course, those exceptions where the music takes you totally by surprise. I have to admit I wasn’t expecting much when I dropped Abigail Grush’s The Phantom Beat . What came wafting out of my speakers could not have been more intriguing. Her sound is a bit tough to describe, but it combines elements of cabaret, jazz, and Merrie Melodies. Grush and her musicians weave guitars, drums, bass, clarinet, French horn and a glockenspiel together to create a wonderfully unique and engaging sound. Many of the songs reminded me of the songs in old Fleischer and Warner Brothers cartoons like Betty Boop and Merrie Melodies. The fact that the band is presented as Ub Iwerks’ style cartoons probably proves that connection. Despite the irreverence of the melodies, Grush’s lyrics are quite strong and add an additional layer of tension to the songs. The only record I can think to really compare it to is Ann Magnuson’s The Luv Show from a few years ago. The Phantom Beat is not only quite interesting and unique, but an infectious album that quickly becomes addictive.
Barsuk Records, P.O. Box 31016, Seattle, WA 98103, www.barsuk.com