It’s really hard to review the music of someone you know, especially if you are friends with them and respect their work, but I am going to attempt to do it today. Bryce Murphy, for those of you who don’t know, is not only a board member of 88.3 The Buzz, but he is also a member of local pop punk/indie band Ratchet Salon. He has played a few times live up at the station, so I have heard him perform before, but I’d never really sat down and listened to a full album of his. Violet Phantom came out a few days ago and comes to about 42 minutes of play time with 17 tracks. This was truly a full length album, with quite a bit of content from the band. Let me tell you what I thought, and I promise to try and be objective.
By: Zachary Stryffeler
Overall, I enjoyed the album. If you enjoy pop-punk or any sort of Lo-fi indie vibes music, this album has something for you.
The Good: The album has a lot of emotion. The lyrics are meaningful and heartfelt. Even during some of the speaking interludes, you can tell there is a lot of early 20’s super-charged pure feelings behind their words. Listen to the spoken word interlude on “See You Again, Maybe.” Really hits you right in the gut.
They offer a lot of variety on this album, from the grunge sound of “Broken Souls”, to the lo-fi beats of “Delphino.” Broken Souls reminded me a little bit of Nirvana’s “Something in the Way”, which is one of my favorite songs. Great stuff.
The track “The 14th Floor” was a really cool little interlude to change up the feel of the album. For some reason, it really reminded me of the Kenny Roger’s and The First Edition’s “Just Dropped In” from “The Big Lebowski”. It had some really chill and spaced-out vibes. If the album had an acid tab slipped in the CD case, this was the song to trip to.
The closing track of “The Times Are Not Changing” is my personal favorite and a real joy to listen to. A great send-off to the album, it has an acoustic vibe that just feels good. While the lyrics might be a little morose, you can hear the happiness in the group’s voices as they comment on finishing the album.
The Bad: Every album has its flaws, and this one is no exception. While a lot of the tracks feature some stellar musicianship on guitar and keys, on a few tracks, the vocals are a little flat and leave something to be desired. I understand that pop punk has a different sound when it comes to vocals, but rarely do we see the vocals climb above the standard pop punk sound.
In some of the songs, the keys seem to be wandering in no particular direction, acting as a sort of distraction in the background.
The album itself is a little long. With 17 tracks, it could have been pared down a bit to shorten the run time and give more attention to their real hits like “Casper’s Lullaby”.
Overall, this was a very good album and I enjoyed listening to it. I really hope you take a listen and help support a local artist.