This is all about the power of the Internet. Four days ago I literally knew nothing about this band. I learned of Phantogram through a tweet by the Antlers of all people. (you see, twitter is good for something. I feel like that is a recurring theme with me) I figured if they were good enough for the Antlers it was worth delving into. Resources like the hype machine and myspace (yes it is still good for something) make it possible to experience bands before they’ve released any actual albums or EPs. I can’t stress enough how invaluable these two sources are for when I’m looking to track down band content. From there I hit Amie St looking for cheap cds. If Amie Street is a dead end I make my way to Amazon. Never do I go to iTunes. Those Apple bastards have stolen enough from consumers. Screw them and their useless iPads. Through the resources previously mentioned I came across a track by Phantogram called “Mouthful Of Diamonds“. Fifteen seconds into the track and I knew I’d be a huge fan. Their sound, which is awesome, is best described visually through this promotional photograph:
That’s a simple shot, but there’s a lot going on here. That’s exactly how I’d describe the sound of Phantogram; Two unassuming Up State New Yorkers throwing down psychedelic melodies on top of hip hop beats. Easy enough one would say..but there’s so many more layers to their sound. Unfair as it sounds but thanks to the girl/guy vocals and the moody sexiness to the.their songs I predict lazy comparisons to the XX. Mind you they are quite different. I’m a huge fan of the XX’s debut album but something has really struck a chord with me on Eyelid Movies. Today I stand before you as a huge advocate. I’ll go as far as saying this is my favorite album of 2010 so far. Sure it’s not even February yet but January had some great releases (Beach House, Spoon, Vampire Weekend) That’s saying a lot from me. I guess the fact that I was witness to zero hype for this band is making me love this album even more. You can’t put a price on zero expectations. In today’s landscape of instant information and constant spoilers ignorance truly is bliss. I realize by writing this I just spoiled your ignorance . It was bound to happen sooner or later…so it might as well come from me.
Highlights: “You Are The Ocean And I’m Good At Drowning,” “Mouthful of Diamonds,” “Futuristic Casket,” “Running From The Cops”
The Mo-odds: “Bop Shu Bop”
Matt Kollar and the Angry Mob: “Cartwheels”
Judging from the announced line up for Coachella months from now, you’ll be put in the awkward position of choosing between Day Three performers Spoon and Phoenix. A few weeks ago this would have been an easy decision for me. Phoenix’s Wolfgang Amadeus. Phoenix had been the soundtrack for far too many parties for 2009. There’s no way I could not see them. Fast forward to this week and the release of Spoon’s Transference and shit just got real. Decisions will have to be made. There will be sacrifices. Tears will be shed. In a perfectly scheduled world I’ll be able to see both bands but it never works out that way. I’ll be sitting at Orbital like a jerk wondering why the hell the organizers couldn’t have tailored the set times towards my specific needs and interests. For now I’m going to remain sided with Team Phoenix but the more I listen to Transference the harder the decision will be in April. One song is swaying me. Spoon’s jangly guitars and funky bass grooves are great but I’m a sucker for piano ballads. “Good Night Laura” is a gem full of lush piano melodies and humming that can only be matched by the Crash Test Dummies seminal “Mmm Mmmm Mmmm Mmm.“ The rest of the new album’s tracks act as a sampling of sounds from the life and times of Spoon making it a great introduction for new listeners who ignored their previous six releases…or people who had sworn allegiance to Phoenix. Present company included.
Highlights: “Goodnight Laura,” “The Mystery Zone,” “Written in Reverse,” “I Saw the Light”
Answer: When you ask them to comment on the Cold Cave CD that you’re thoroughly enjoying they answer you with a hipster snobbish reply of “Pssh, i feel like anyone could sing like Ian Curtis”
They say it like that is a bad thing! In defense of Cold Cave I hardly think they’re intentionally trying to be Joy Division copycats here. Having said that, I get where this person was coming from. If you start a band with deep low vocals mixed with ominous synths it’s just natural for people to make those comparisons. I guess if we have to throw labels on people consider Cold Cave the New New Order. My personal opinion is that if more bands sounded like Joy Division and less like Lil Wayne’s Rebirth the world would be a better place.
Highlights: “Love Comes Close,” “Life Magazine,” “Youth and Lust”
For those of you that listened to last Sunday’s episode of Ammunition Radio, this is the Steve Albini article we were referring to (thank you to Andre for sending to me so that I didn’t have to go digging for it). We hope that by now all of you have come across this and read this, especially if you are in a band or a musical artist (whether signed or not). Some of the content is a little dated and some of the numbers need some tweaking as it was written a few years back, but the majority of it still applies and really this is one of the most accurate, informative pieces on the music industry you will ever read.
Whenever I talk to a band who are about to sign with a major label, I always end up thinking of them in a particular context. I imagine a trench, about four feet wide and five feet deep, maybe sixty yards long, filled with runny, decaying shit. I imagine these people, some of them good friends, some of them barely acquaintances, at one end of this trench. I also imagine a faceless industry lackey at the other end holding a fountain pen and a contract waiting to be signed. Nobody can see what’s printed on the contract. It’s too far away, and besides, the shit stench is making everybody’s eyes water. The lackey shouts to everybody that the first one to swim the trench gets to sign the contract. Everybody dives in the trench and they struggle furiously to get to the other end. Two people arrive simultaneously and begin wrestling furiously, clawing each other and dunking each other under the shit. Eventually, one of them capitulates, and there’s only one contestant left. He reaches for the pen, but the Lackey says “Actually, I think you need a little more development. Swim again, please. Backstroke”. And he does of course.
Every major label involved in the hunt for new bands now has on staff a high-profile point man, an “A & R” rep who can present a comfortable face to any prospective band. The initials stand for “Artist and Repertoire.” because historically, the A & R staff would select artists to record music that they had also selected, out of an available pool of each. This is still the case, though not openly. These guys are universally young [about the same age as the bands being wooed], and nowadays they always have some obvious underground rock credibility flag they can wave. (more…)