Alternative indie rock band with hip-hop influences, Phantom Phunk, had their origins in 2014 when a collective of friends, songwriters and musicians got together to share ideas. The band has since gone from a two piece, to a three piece and then a four piece, until their final transformation back to a three piece band in 2018, consisting of Alexa Toro on vocals, Nick Emiliozzi on drums and Hector Fontanet on guitar. Hector was one of the original founders of Phantom Phunk. The power trio has now released its 5 song EP entitled “Struggle With Me”. It’ hard to keep your eyes or ears off this trio of aural vandals. In Alexa you have a front-woman who is as cocksure as she is enigmatic. Guitarist Hector possesses a talent that outshines the craftsmanship of some of his peers, and Nick’s drumming serves as a rock amid the slick and raucousness.
The band have thus far shape-shifted their sonic identity from release to release, but this new offering finds them mixing and matching, as they splice their fuzz-toned alternative-rock with the edgy urban tones of hip-hop and more.
The tracks on “Struggle With Me” will shake up your indie-dance party quicker than anyone else I can think of now. The EP kicks off quickly with “Mediphorical”, and the music is clearly jumping in an exciting direction. Its guitar heavy with its jangly riffs, while Alexa Toro jumps in at all the right places, keeping the song to close to the home front.
The first semi-ballad is “Every Where You Go”. Though this is the slowest track on the album, it certainly does reveal a groovy side to things. The music here perfectly matches the lyrics and the rap verses, while a booming bass line props things up.
And that bass gets into an upbeat and funky rhythm on “No Hard Feelings”, almost the most immediately arresting song on the EP, as it grows and mutates into an insinuating, thumping and slapping bass beast. But there’s so much hot chili surging through Phantom Phunk’s veins that they’re totally on fire on the fast-paced “Something Certain People Say”, as they dish out their own brand of bone-rattling art punk.
But this EP zips around with abandon, never staying in one place long enough to get stale. So before you know it, the band has already launched into “Cheap Thrills” – a track that is totally, stop and start tight.
On this riff heavy track with its martial percussion and soaring melodic hook, the trio comes closest to replicating the nervy energy of epic progressive rock, demonstrating how far Phantom Phunk is able to push the structure of a punk-rock song.
With Nick Emiliozzi’s skittering drum lines and Hector Fontanet’s angular, buzz-saw guitar riffs used both for texture beneath the dense layer of rapped verses, and laying down the rhythmic foundation, this song also best represents the stylistic pivot the band have successfully executed here.
Herein lay the difference between Phantom Phunk and so many of their contemporaries. There is no pretentious posturing, no attempt to look cool for the sake of it, no effort to pander to any given set of aesthetic ideals.
They just do what they have to do, to make explosive ass-kicking songs, which one minute lean toward incendiary alternative rock, and then the next towards emotional arty punk, before forging some streetwise swagger.