A Phoenix Rising From Near Death Ashes
A good album has a narrative and a few solid singles. A great album makes you feel every note played at the bottom of your stomach and leaves you needing more. Fantastic Negrito's album Please Don't Be Dead is more than good, it is wonderful. The tracks are full, well thought out and beautifully executed. Influenced by blues, heavy rock, and funk, this album stands out. Unlike some albums that are overproduced and underperformed, this musical collection is chock full of boundary pushing tracks that can't be pushed into one genre's corner.
A track by track review you ask? Of course.
Plastic Hamburgers, the first track on Please Don't Be dead captures the sound of the entire album, with heavy guitar, funk like vocals, and amazing lyricism. He calls for listeners to "Break Out These Chains and Burn It Down," for social as well as societal change. We included the video to the track above. If any readers are interested in giving Fantastic Negrito a try, I would suggest starting with this track.
Bad Guy Necessity carries a funkier sound than the opening track, but has such a groovy beat that you'll surely be hooked in the first 30 seconds. Back up vocals have an almost church choir-like quality to them, carrying the song to a new level. There is a distinctive nostalgic feel to this track that sinks into your skin. Is this one of my favorite songs on the album? Yes, yes it is.
A Letter To Fear has an ominous, driving guitar track pushing and pulling on listeners. This guitar track is progressively accented by a sharp organ accompaniment. His lyrics call on friends carrying each other through rough times, noting that they won't be shut down. This blue-sy track is a cool accent carrying on the album's message while simultaneously mellowing out the album a bit.
A Boy Named Andrew gives me the itch to listen to some System of a Down with it's vocal diddies (sounding similar to Serj Tanikan's "nah-nah"s) mixed into an otherwise smooth track. The haunting vocals of this track leave listeners wanting more as Xavier notes that, "every time I close my eyes, I see the face of the living dead." An almost eerie vibe sets this track apart from others, and leaves listeners asking all sorts of questions.
Transgender Biscuits calls for unity and for people to come together to change their own world. The out of this world sound effects keep this protest-esque track interesting. A mix of different musical styles between chorus and verse transitions compel listeners to keep moving forward with the song. Arguably the most eccentric track on the album, Transgender Biscuits still manages to be compelling despite a simplicity lyrically speaking.
The Suit That Won't Come Off calls for an explanation of actions. And it calls for that explanation in the most organ-laden, ominous way possible. An unidentified source has wronged someone, and you can feel it. Xavier's range shines in this track as he hits all the highs and transitions some vocalists only dream of. A beautiful guitar solo mid track showcases the musical talent this group exhibits overall. This well thought out track holds yet another compelling narrative while bringing musical mastery to the table.
A Cold November Street is another track draped in a heavy beat accented by organ runs. This track has almost an old-school Gospel sound, with Xavier singing of struggles and sorrows. There is a soft few bars of tender apologies before a musical eruption leading into the most wicked of guitar solos that lead, yet again, into a collection of apologies. Again, I would call this one of my favorite tracks on this album and urge you to give it a listen.
The Duffler is a well fleshed out single off the album that is catchy and soulful. While this track isn't a stand out, it is a fine summary of Xavier's musical range and vocal talent.
Dark Window proves to be melodic and filled with a soft lyrical accompaniment, making it a wonderful accent piece that deviates from the album's more aggressive sound. The track has an almost dreamy, hazy feel to it rivaling any Pink Floyd or Radiohead track. It breaks up the grouping of songs surrounding it perfectly, pushing into the next track seamlessly. This is another favorite track of mine that I will inevitably end up playing on loop.
Never Give Up, a motivational track is a short track with a simple message: do not give up! We love a short little track like this when it hosts layers of vocals to unravel.
Bullshit Anthem wraps the album up with a groovy jam that makes listeners want to thrust their hips and clap their hands. The song sings about overcoming, in them with the rest of the album, and provides a fine highlight reel of talent ranging from Xavier's vocals, to spicy guitar licks, and some liquid cool organ sounds.
Please Don't Be Dead was nothing short of a home run album that is a staple in any well rounded music collection. Musically complex tracks with distinctive style make this album perfect for any musician that appreciates fine tuned details. Could this album convert any average music listener to a Fantastic Negrito fan? We think yes. Interested in conversion? Check out his music on streaming platforms, the group's site here, and as always, we urge you to buy some sick merch while you're visiting the page.