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Jason Schwartzman's glorious reemergence

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Coconut Records
Nighttiming
Young Baby Records
Released: May 19th, 2007

Coconut Records is the irresistible, pop-rock brainchild of actor/musician Jason Schwartzman. When Schwartzman quit playing drums for Phantom Planet to star in the Mike White-written Fox sitcom Cracking Up (eew), it heavily divided their fan base. There were the fans that stuck with Phantom Planet despite one of their central songwriters leaving and there were the fans that foreboded the end of the Phantom Planet world. I fell into the latter category by regarding The Guest, the last effort Schwartzman was involved in, as the quintessential Phantom Planet album.

Some people never really understood the ramifications of his untimely departure. Schwartzman co-wrote Phantom Planet's ever-so-popular album The Guest, which gave him major cred in my book. The Guest was the singular, sparkling gem of Phantom Planet's repertoire and none of their albums thereafter have impacted me as much. I suppose it's obligatory to include the fact that he wrote the piano line for The O.C. theme song "California," which successfully lifted Phantom Planet onto the mainstream pedestal of stardom. The point is that Schwartzman wasn't just a subordinate drummer. He fulfilled a much more vital role in the band than most people were aware of.

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So, why did he decide to release a solo album? I've got my theories, but none of them satiate the multitude of questions. Maybe his acting career hasn't been as fulfilling as he had originally planned: Marie Antoinette, Shopgirl, Bewitched. Maybe playing on 2 tracks of Ben Lee's 2005 release Awake is the new sleep made him hungry for more. Or maybe his little brother Robert Carmine (of Rooney) inspired him to get back on the bandwagon. Regardless of the rationale, the results are spectacular and I still can't get past the fact that Nighttiming has garnered so little attention.