Thus far, nothing about 2014 has proven to be easy. From a universal level to the microcosmic environments created by daily miscommunications to the ever pervasive work-in-America distress, every day stands with one foot in yesterday’s trials and the other in tomorrow’s opportunity.
But the same thing can be said of 2013, or 2012, and probably all the years to come; for the emotionally inclined, all we can insist upon is the ability to manage the chaos with a precariously positive attitude and a protective skepticism toward all those memories to come. Every end is a new beginning, but every moment is an end.
This is why Phin is high on my radar of listenable music lately, and why I think they’re a band that everyone should have on steady, springtime rotation. They’re an indie-rock outfit from Nashville that epitomize the boundaries between introspective stills and entropic inundation.
Created in 2013 and led by singer-songwriter Toby Haydel, Phin has splashed the Nashville music scene with a passionate, layered rock sound, featuring a tight chemistry that speaks miles of a group that’s just over a year old. Their connectedness seems to be universally understood by the city, as they recently came out on top of the Music City Mayhem Contest sponsored by Lightning 100, winning a slot at this year’s Live On The Green.
Phin juxtaposes both Sam Cooke and MGMT as influences; a cross that, by lesser musicians, might not translate as melodically as it does on their EP release, “Those Killers.” But with a comprehensive vision of how soul music penetrates synthesis, how pauses underscore noise, the six-piece band has created a sound that is not only pop-sensible, but also one that resonates on various levels of contentedness and unpredictability.
The album begins with “Free Spirit,” a wonderful introduction the band’s capacity for passionate dynamics, and the feeling of boundless liberty, of existing in this freedom, “perfectly imperfect.” Quickly, Phin elaborates on this sentiment with “That Is Home,” and showcases their talent for constraint. It is a track that begins with a pronounced and grooving bass line, traveling as the undercurrent of steadily growing layers underneath the desperate yearning in Haydel’s voice. As the EP advances, there are notes of both the traditional and experimental use of electronic instruments, lending the sound to a perfect composite of roots-rock and synth pop. It may be completely subconscious, but Phin finds a way to encapsulate the vacuum that exists between spiritual soaring and humanistic degradation, the cross between a free spirit and a lonely ghost- a feat that typically foreshadows great musical success.