Phillips Merchant Band Debuts New Prog-Rock Concept Album

phillips merchant band

Phillips Merchant Band is a collaborative international group who recently dropped their debut album. The project is the brainchild of Matt Phillips. The Cleveland, Ohio-based musician works remotely with artists around the globe to bring his compositions to life.

Although he is a lifelong musician, Phillips Merchant Band is Matt’s first professional foray into music production. Given the particularly chaotic events of recent years, as well as the personal upheaval of a divorce, he felt compelled to put pen to paper and pick up his guitar. The result is a genre-bending art-rock concept album of sorts that serves as a visceral reaction to a cultural and political world entropy which, in the author’s assessment, began in January of 2016 with the death of David Bowie.

Unfinished Business is the debut album from Phillips Merchant Band, available worldwide via all major streaming services. From the analog ambience of the intro “And So It Begins” to the jazz rhythms and folks sensibilities of “Landfall”, the album bends musical genres and generation into a distinctly modern prog-rock vibe. Matthew pairs his musical explorations with poetic lyrical examinations of events both personal and global.

"I was working out all of the insanity that began in 2016, from the death of Bowie to everything crazy in society and my own divorce. For me, the album is a psychological journey."
phillips merchant band
Matthew Phillips
Phillips Merchant Band

“The Blind Prophet” is a Bowie-inspired cryptic rocker. Syncopated rhythms meet swirling synth melodies as the band vibes through an acid rock guitar fueled space jam and a male/female duet sings “How’d it all get so strange?”. “Mr. Brown” shifts the focus to history, with a dark dream-pop meditation on abolitionist firebrand, John Brown.

“Spring Came” opens on a mellow acoustic intro before the beat lands on a laid-back mid-tempo alt-pop groove. On the mic, vocalist Rhiannon Ray Ray Hopkins offers a dreamy tale of awakening as strings and keys paint the periphery. “All is Vapor” is an epic violin-led cinematic instrumental inspired by the biblical passage ‘all is vanity’. The piece serves as a musical commentary on the impermanence of life and the transitory nature of reality. 

The title track follows with the record’s most personal commentary. Vocalist Tomás Baptista offers a powerful and soulful performance inspired by a meditative and spiritual journey in which Phillips released the pain of his divorce. Musically the track is an epic 8:36 journey through psychedelic rock, far East rhythms, jazz improvisation, and even a bit of Tijuana brass. “Where I’ll Be” follows with an introspective and melancholy Americana-infused exhale, before a steel guitar introduces “Landfalls” mellow groove.

Check out the videos for both “Spring Came” and “Where I’ll Be” below. You can also hear both songs on the Deep Dive : Pop & Rock playlist, or listen to the entire Unfinished Business album on your favorite streaming service. Follow the links below to connect with the artist.

Connect with Phillips Merchant Band