Friday, May 28, 2010

Phantogram and other summer listens

Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel together make up Phantogram
from Upstate New York's very own Saratoga Springs

By Shanna Farrell, cas:ev contibutor

Coinciding with my efforts to consume in a local and sustainable manner, I recently stumbled upon a band from Saratoga Springs. While I was taking a break from finals preparation this month, I was browsing the “Brooklyn Vegan” blog. A photo of a two-piece duo appeared accompanied by a caption quoting the two that read, “When you go out at night in a place like Saratoga Springs, people just want to hear ‘Freebird’ covers, Journey covers, at the bar all night.” That’s not something you read on a music site everyday.

The band Phantogram, comprised of Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel, have an ambient sound. Which makes sense, considering they have recently opened for indie sensations Beach House and The xx. Phantogram’s official website is their MySpace page, which plays four of their songs. I listened, I liked it, and I bought their full length on iTunes.

And while I really like their music, I also really like that they seem proud of where they are from. (However, in interviews, they sometimes come off as if they are backhanding Upstate a bit, though they acknowledge this. In a recent twitter post, Carter said they often get misrepresented in the press.) The two went to high school in Saratoga Springs together and reconnected after college when they bonded over their inclination towards Motown, indie-rock, and ‘60’s French pop (see: Serge Gainsbourg). Their sound is a mix of all these genres, though also present is a heavy electronic influence.

They’ve sold out shows in New York, play at Northern Lights (!), are currently on tour with The Antlers, and will be appearing at some major music festivals this summer, such as Sasquatch. They’ve also been getting a lot of play at the Wine Bar in Brooklyn that I work at … These two may be my new “hometown” heroes. Bold statement? You be the judge.

Also worthy of checking out are new albums by She & Him (Volume 2), The Black Keys (Brothers), Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings (I Learned the Hard Way), Broken Social Scene (Forgiveness Rock Record) and the August 2 release of The Arcade Fire (The Suburbs).