Conventions [CS; Skrot Up]

I saw Phil Diamond do the Scammers thing along with an awkward ten-or-so others in the audience last month, and the dude freaked all ten-or-so of us completely out with his unbelievable confidence. That vibrato’d voice fluttering triumphantly over the square-by-comparison beats, floating out of a man who was shifting and contorting his body around the room, his face flying into ours, causing winces and confused looks abound. But the thing is that such confidence was warranted given the musical magic that came off of Diamond’s various instrumental devices: Beats had a very high head-nod factor. Melodies were consistently catchy. Buttery bass lines. And what really got me was the timing — brilliant pop song pacing, endless examples of tension and release, and whip-smart lyrics were wedged into the cracks to fill out the venue with boisterous bravado.

And, of course, all of that and much more makes its way onto the reels of Conventions, one of a handful of tape releases Diamond’s completed over the past twelve months, and possibly his best to date. Scammers has a sound that screams “Vegas” without ever really making the listener feel weird or unnecessarily guilty about liking that it does that. It’s a crazy phenomenon that’s difficult to describe, but nonetheless a simple thing to toss aside so that the swooning of a lovely ballad like “Effortlessly” with its soaring chorus can proceed uninhibited. Diamond’s a charmer that knows exactly what cards he has and when to play them, cashing in that sultry tenor for stunning climaxes that won’t fail to send shivers down the spines of tape deck owners everywhere. Robotic, rapid-firing stabs of synth propel tracks like “Convention” and “Terror Nights” into neon, post-disco frenzies that make me wanna bust out the running man. But whatever you do, don’t forget to take Scammers seriously — check out the words, get to know the vulnerable, thoughtful, and honest songwriter that is Phil Diamond. Something so normal never felt so weird, vice-versa, and of course none of that really matters. Scammers enjoyability is a very real, simple thing that seems universal and unequivocal and undebatable, and is yet something I fail to grasp completely with words. Let your ears do the talking, and let me know if they say whether or not the world is ready for a guy like Phil Diamond. I bet they’ll say “yes.”


Cerberus seeks to document the spate of home recorders and backyard labels pressing limited-run LPs, 7-inches, cassettes, and objet d’art with unique packaging and unknown sound. We love everything about the overlooked or unappreciated. If you feel you fit such a category, email us here.

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