AOTW: Phantogram

After paying their dues and opening for the likes of Ra Ra Riot and Yeasayer, Phantogram is finally headlining their own tour next month. As the electro-pop duo from Saratoga Springs, NY gears up for its US tour, which begins September 5th, the buzz just keeps getting louder. At the beginning of this year, their debut album Eyelid Movies was featured on NPR’s First Listen. And just last week, Canadian rapper k-os released a mixtape in which he samples their song “Mouthful of Diamonds.”

Phantogram is a self-proclaimed “street beat psych pop” duo. The band consists of a pair of childhood friends, Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter, who have known each other since junior high. They left their small town to pursue their respective creative endeavors—but when that didn’t pan out, the two returned home and found what they were looking for in each other.

Barthel’s keen ear for dance club beats and her luscious vocals give form to Carter’s dark lyrics and indie-pop melodies. They each approach the project with different influences—she, with a hip-hop sensibility and he, with an interest in French pop and indie electronica. The result is oddly irresistible. Phantogram’s dance rhythms, shoegaze lyrics and wispy vocals are romantic yet dark, refreshing yet haunting. Somehow, even the most mellow tunes inspire feet to tap and bodies to shake.

Barthel and Carter’s chemistry is undeniable, especially live onstage. They work well together, and they are clearly invested in the music. Barthel’s romantic, airy voice is the perfect match for Carter’s dark, bluesy lyrics. They make the contrast between hip-hop rhythms and indie melodies work.

Phantogram kicks off its first headline tour right after Labor Day at the North Coast Music Festival in Chicago. They’re also making pit stops at other festivals, including the Midpoint Music Festival in Cincinnati, OH and the Treasure Island Festival in San Francisco, CA. Whether they are playing shoegaze-y French pop or jazzy hip-hop, Phantogram promises to get your body moving.

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– Ivana Ng


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