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phyllis @ Locals Only

Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

phyllis @ The Melody Inn

Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

phyllis @ Rouge

Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

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(3.5 Stars)

Skip to: Making You Wait, Pure and Simple, No Alternative, Dave Song

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Phyllis pushes quiet band to the forefront
CD Review by Steve Hayes

Phyllis seems to be one of those bands that prefer to stay out of the 100-watt candle that is the spotlight of the Indianapolis music scene. They tend to go about the business of writing songs and playing shows without making any kind of fuss about themselves, at least any kind of fuss I can sense. This low profile has earned them titles like "underground" and "underrated." Based on the material I hear on their new eponymous CD, it's high time they shook off those labels and stepped to the front.

The five-member band appears to be the vehicle for Brett Cantrell's songwriting. The guitarist/vocalist claims sole or co-songwriter credit on nine of Phyllis' ten songs. The collected work is fairly straightforward indie guitar pop that has a little bit of Weezer and Guided By Voices coursing through its veins. Though the tunes don't blaze new ground musically, each is catchy. As a collection, the songs don't have that sameness that plagues a lot of records in this genre. Overall, Phyllis is a fun listen front-to-back.

After a brief feedback swell, the record kicks off with "Making You Wait," a peppy stomp that features the tasty guitar licks and catchy choruses that fill this record. "Pure and Simple" takes the mood down a notch, but brings on a great call-and-response vocal between Cantrell and his co-songwriter, Joe Welch, before climaxing with an edgy guitar solo over waves of cymbal crashes. "Against the Lie" clocks in at an all too short 2:27, but finds the time to bring in a lap steel guitar that helps build tension as the rest of the band carries the slow strut beat.

"In Matters" keeps up the gentle-but-rocking attitude of the previous two songs before letting the tempo pick back up with "Hesitate." "No Alternative" follows with a more driving beat and a new voice. Could be Welch or guitarist Scott Westervelt or drummer Randy Seals. Each is credited with vocals on the record.

"Disappointing You" delivers the seventh catchy pop tune in a row, but the mood changes swiftly with "Dave Song" (named after Phyllis bassist Dave Magee perhaps?). The song is the record's only foray into punk territory as the tempo picks up, guitars go up and the bass maintains an edgy riff throughout. Even though it's different in style from the rest of the record, the song stands up in quality to all the other tracks and even provides a nice distraction before moving back into more familiar territory.

"Face the Change" is a breezy, mostly two-chord tune that's interrupted by a swelling bridge and noisy guitar lead that adds a strong effect to an otherwise simple song. "Map of My Hometown," the only tune not credited to Cantrell, closes the CD with a true new wave feel. If I had this record a couple months ago, this song would've made for a great soundtrack for a summer cruising session.

The strength of the songs on Phyllis is definitely matched by the musicianship. Great noisy guitars, credited to Cantrell and Westervelt, fill the record. Magee is solid on bass and Seals and Dusty Privette set the beats nicely. My main performance criticism is that Cantrell sings a bit tentatively at times and seems to try to cover it up with some studio effects. Otherwise, he has a good voice that resembles Elvis Costello's a bit and delivers the songs well.

Production on Phyllis was done by drummer Seals at Archie Studios with the help of Mark Kocher and Drew Seals. If every record that came out of Indy was this good sonically, the city would have a lot to brag about.

It's tough to sum up Phyllis without repeating myself. It's simply a good record of good musicians playing good songs. I caught myself singing along on the second spin. If you like any of the bands or artists I mentioned during this review - Weezer, GBV, Elvis Costello - or are just a fan of good, modern guitar pop, this record is definitely worth your while.

by Steve Hayes

Phyllis is performing this Saturday, Oct 11th @ Zanies Too, with the Vulgar Boatmen. -


1997 EP lost...for good reasons
2003 LP "phyllis"
Self titled "phyllis" LP available on itunes, and CD baby.



1995-present. The first incarnation of Phyllis began after the breakup of the Lovemeknots. (very good Indianapolis pop band).
Drummer, Rich Meyer, and bassists, Dave Magee, were asked to be the rhythm section for an experiment.
Guitarist/songwriter, Brett Cantrell, had an inkling that he wanted to front a band; something that he had not done before.
Almost ten years later, with the addition of guitarist, Scott Westervelt, and new drummer, Randy Seals (Tommy Flake) the experiment is still ongoing.
Scientific data is still being collected. No major breakthroughs to report except for their self-titled album, "Phyllis", released in 2003.

Phyllis relys heavily on basic one, two, three, four-guitar, bass, drums rock ethic.
Traces of Replacements, Dinosaur Jr. and Superdrag
can be heard.