19
Feb
10

THE RECOMMENDER – NUMBER 75

PHANTOGRAM

Some bands hunt in the dark and attempt to suffocate you with their bleak, scary music (see the likes of Portishead, The XX, Emika).  Some bands pour sugary pop all over you with a childish abandonment and produce friendly, neon cartoons of songs, (see Marina & The Diamonds, Tony Basil, early Madonna etc).  On the odd occasion you get a band who produce something that straddles a bit of both camps, a wide gap to attempt to breach by anybody’s standards, but they work out a way to compile tunes with enjoyable pop harmonies, whilst still being atmospheric and unsettling.  You could see examples of this with Sneaker Pimps, (oh you remember them, with their hit Spin Spin Sugar, back in the mid-90s), who made the kind of music that Girls Aloud would probably go for, if that scary blonde one, Sarah Harding, called all the shots.  Well Phantogram revisit Sneaker Pimps grave and seem to tap into the promise that was made back in 1996.  They take a portion of that dark trip hop, complete with the compulsory crackling sound from a dusty needle on vinyl and the slow, folding break-beats.  What really lifts them up to the light though is a real sense of a pop melody.  There are moments in their songs, particularly in the vocals, that are astonishingly gorgeous, “Showing love, you’ve got your hand on the button now”.  Amongst all the slightly more experimental distractions, they carry the tracks into verses and choruses and climaxes that any pop maidens would be proud of.  This male/female duo, from Saratoga Springs, New York, released their first full length LP, Eyelid Movies, in America last week.  This type of black magic is full of difficult tricks, but on the odd occasion someone creates something listenable, memorable and rather surprisingly hands you a smile from the shadows.   (MB)

Find them here:       Myspace

Hear them here:      PHANTOGRAM – WHEN I’M SMALL

TinyRedLineForBlog.jpg picture by odelaybradford

YEAR OF THE TIGER

This duo from Brooklyn contacted us recently as they state they are readers and followers of The Recommender, so they asked very politely if I’d check them out.  However, the real positivity they bring us come in the form of the electrical charge that buzzes throughout their amazing music.  It’s a real pleasure to locate and bring you fresh music from around the world, but it seems not even Brooklyn’s blogs have cottoned on to this band yet, so new out of the wrapping are this pair.  If you’ve come across our posts about the likes of MNDR, or more particularly Sleigh Bells, and enjoyed both of those talented New Yorkers, then you will adore Year Of The Tiger, as they also chuck out the same brand of killer electroclash pop.  Henry Ivry, one half of today’s duo, described to us that their sound was planned out to be “aggressive, but fun“, which seems like a similar methodology to the way the Recommender critiques music, so that works for us.  There’s a real fearless fusion of rock, electro, dancehall and pop folded into the mix in each track, but the alluring melodies are never lost in the noisy fuzz.  At times it’s astonishing to think that they’ve only been together two months, especially when you hear Henry’s self-proclaimed ‘best friend forever’ and the second half of this duo, Sable, work her vocals on tracks such as The Message,  “Your asking me to give my mind up“.  However, the finest worksong from the small collection has to be Heart Of Steel, with it’s amazing riffs, climactic bridges and punched beats.  This is music designed to slap you around your drunk face, so you can tune into exactly how good the party has become in your hazy absence.  It’s confident, sexy, dangerous and energetic, so it comes with the same warning that your friend gave you when you were thinking of approaching that beautiful chick that’s clearing the dancefloor, “watch out, she’s a total party animal“.  You correctly ignored your mate and enjoyed the best ride you ever had, right?  Right.  These special Brooklynites plan to work on getting some live shows in NYC soon and will produce an EP before the year is out.  We will keep you posted on their likely rapid progression.   (MB)

Find them here:         Myspace

Hear them here:        YEAR OF THE TIGER – HEART OF STEEL

TinyRedLineForBlog.jpg picture by odelaybradford

BULLION

Back in the 90s there used to be a kind of sound or genre called big beat, typified by many successful Skint label signings, peaking with Fat Boy Slim‘s global domination.  It’s a sound with a very heavy horse-clap bass drum, seemingly live in percussion, instantly enjoyable and the samples were packed on top so much the songs could barely breathe.  It’s hard to trace what the sound has evolved into since, if indeed it ever did, but we think Damian Harris‘ Skint roads could have easily led him to Bullion.  The beats are absolutely fucking enormous, his grooved chords are delightfully fuzzy and his samples are plentiful, although enjoyably selected and well placed within each song.  It’s music for feeling positive, music for the summertime, music not to be taken too seriously, like all this genre’s best predecessors.  One of the world’s largest blogs, Gorilla vs Bear, have been all over him, following his EP release a few years ago of a Beach Boys and J Dilla mashup, entitled Pet Sounds : In The Key Of Dee.  He’s more recently been writing his own orginal tracks with the below tune, Say Goodbye To What, which came out on the 18th January on the One Handed label.  Although it’s as confused as any tune Norman Cook would have penned, it’s a very excellent track with a Klaus Nomi/Leonard Cohen vocal sample that gives the music an excellent refrain throughout.  At 1 min 25 seconds in there’s a beautiful chanting mantra that breaks the tune in half, before the fun dances back in like a bendy Christopher Walken.  This masterful mixer, from Acton, West London, is heading out on a tour supporting The XX through March, which is both remarkably good for his publicity, but a shocking match up, considering how unrelated their sounds are!  It certainly confirms that obscure mix ups are precisely what he does best.  (MB)

Find him here:       Myspace

Hear him here:       BULLION – SAY GOODBYE TO WHAT

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8 Responses to “THE RECOMMENDER – NUMBER 75”


  1. February 19, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    Thanks for the kind words! Hope to play a show and rock your faces off across the pond sooner rather than later.

    x Sable

    ps. I am so that chick clearing the dance floor.

  2. 3 Mike
    February 23, 2010 at 12:15 am

    Bullion = killer track!

  3. February 23, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Funny you mention Sneaker Pimps and Marina and the Diamonds in that post – both of whom are linked by Liam Howe of course !

  4. February 24, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    Phantogram = favourite new blog find… thanks so much for posting about them!


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