Whatzup
VACANT AFTERNOONS
PHEEN

by Chris Hupe VACANT AFTERNOONS

PHEEN

VACANT AFTERNOONS

       Phenn's debut album, Vacant Afternoons, has been a long time coming. After having been recorded a few years ago, the album was remixed by Grammy award-winning producer Scott Mathews. After that, some parts of the album were recorded again and then eventually mixed a third and final time by Monastic Chambers' Jon Gillespie. Though itÕs been a ridiculously long process to get this album released, it's certainly worth the wait.

       Pheen is comprised of five guys from Auburn who proudly announce their influences through their own original music. Tool, Nirvana, Trapt and Bush are just a few of the sounds Pheen draw upon for their inspiration, but be careful, they're not a just another copycat band. Pheen craftily combine all of said influences (and more) into a musical blender to produce a very original and unique sound. Though it seems like they have come out of nowhere, the band boasts loads of experience, having opened for national acts such as Trapt, Blindside and Crossfade, as well as having played the Ernie Ball stage at last years Warped Tour.

       The album commences with the Tool-inspired "Break Away." Vocalist Mike Ulm does his best Maynard James Keenan voice, while the band ably keeps up with solid playing. Throughout the remainder of the album, Ulm sounds a little more like Gavin Rossdale than Keenan, and the songs tend to show the band's Seattle influences, particularly Nirvana. "Compromised" and "Close to the Bottom" are particularly grungy, and "Nailed to the Canvas" and "Vagrant" are steeped in the vein of newer bands like Trapt and Smile Empty Soul. The songs rock hard from front to back with the exception of a single ballad, "Nothing Left," which shows their serious side.

       Mathews has been quoted as saying that Pheen gives the term "radio friendly" its meaning. I couldnÕt agree more. Their sound is familiar yet unique. And though Pheen's hard rocking and their style is uncompromising, the band still knows a melody when they hear it. Pheen is proof that hard rock and good songs are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Be sure to pick this one up at one of their live shows. (Chris Hupe)

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