By Allyson Bills
Phantom Party is the band that is currently bringing the beach to the desert with their first EP, Stellar. The Chandler-based band is comprised of three-fourths of the now-defunct The Semester Review with vocalist/guitarist Joshua Capati, backup vocalist/guitarist Gabriel Hernandez, bassist Matthew Slusser and drummer Austin Cooper. The lo-fi, surf sounds of Phantom Party is a dramatic departure from the pop-punk power chords of The Semester Review, and this genre suits them better as musicians. Stellar is a five-song EP clocking in a 11:18 minutes that was recorded in multiple bedrooms in Chandler.
The opening tracking of Stellar, “Catholic School,” is catchy as hell with Hernandez’s backing vocals, along with the clean up-tempo drums from Cooper. Listening to this song definitely makes me feel like I’m on a beach, instead of thinking out Capati’s woes of going to Catholic school. The song is so catchy that I initially didn’t pay attention to the lyrics of “I went to Catholic school, and then I lost my soul // I guess I'm going down to hell 'cause I won't do what I'm told.”
Next comes the EP’s title track, “Stellar,” my favorite track. For some reason, I always have a special place in my heart for title tracks on albums. “Stellar” is no exception. The rhythm section of Slusser and Cooper make this song special because listening to it, I can see the band’s potential. The rhythm section is where it’s at, and with lyrics like “Will you collect my soul // And make me cross their minds?”, you can’t help but fall in love with “Stellar.”
The two middle tracks, “Sunflower Eyes” and “Skin” are the weakest parts of Stellar. With “Sunflower Eyes,” I felt like the 2:46 minutes was too short for the song, and that the song could have developed more to its potential with another verse and chorus. As for “Skin,” I found the song overall to be too generic with the lyrics of “Since you're buried below my feet,” and it song was kind of slow for my taste. “Skin” doesn’t fit with the rest of the songs on Stellar.
“Twenty” is the final track of Stellar, which is fitting because it’s one of the strongest tracks on the EP. “Twenty” is perhaps the “poppiest” tracking, but also it’s where each band member’s instrument meshed perfectly together in order to create this song. Capati is also genuine in his delivery of the lyrics such as “Tomorrow I'll wake up early // To a lifetime of being lonely.” I can’t think of any twenty-something out there who would not be able to relate to the feelings of the loneliness and confusion of being twenty-years-old.
For a band that has been together for three months, Stellar is a solid start to Phantom Party’s band career because they are doing the lo-fi (surf) genre right by taking a page from Guided By Voices with keeping their songs concise, and not trying too hard. Granted, Phantom Party are still finding their sound and identity as a band, but they have all the time in the world to grow. I’m excited to see what Phantom Party does next. If you like Beach Fossils, then you will like Phantom Party.