April 24, 2008

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Phantom Planet, Raise the Dead
Atlantic Records, April 15
A single brush with commercial relevance (the song “California,” which became the theme for TV’s The O.C.) remains Phantom Planet’s sole claim to fame, that and drummer Jason Schwartzman’s cartoon-oval head, which co-starred in I Heart Huckabees.

Being that Schwartzman is the nephew of Francis Ford Coppola, one would have expected them to have broken a little bigger than their current position by now, but this generation of rock critics isn’t as fond of oligarchies as previous ones have pretended to be, so, after more than a decade of making ennui-drowned Strokes-inspired surf-rock, they’ve decided to cast their lot with style over substance: the music is still a slop-pile of soul-less Strokes leftovers, but now with new and improved skronk, Pavement monkeyshines and various Brian Johnstown distractions. Their corporate handlers will be shoving “Leader” into your ear pretty soon, not that it’s all that interesting but because it has little kids singing on it — hopefully your finger is at its ideal weight for quick-changing the radio station this summer. C-Eric W. Saeger