SXSW Preview: Phantogram

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From KCRW DJ Mario Cotto:

Phantogram’s “Mouthful of Diamonds” was unquestionably one of last year’s sweetest album openers.

With a sputtering drum loop that suggests that the album may not take off, this upstate NY duo dramatically reel you in, to suddenly propel you on a stratospheric flight that is playful, but driven, and somehow bubbly while intimating menace.

Using a tried and true trip-hop formula of lovely female vocals over programmed sequences and drum rhythms, Phantogram wear their late 90’s influences well (GusGus, Lamb), but do so in way that more closely resembles their labelmate’s (Barsuk alums Death Cab for Cutie) side-project, The Postal Service.

Where pre-millennial trip-hop was tripping darkly, all anxiety and Y2K dread, this new strain of trip-hop doesn’t mind looking to the skies and actually enjoying the lightshow.

In addition to the “Mouthful of Diamonds,” “When I’m Small” and “As Far As I Can See” are good examples of their brand of trip-pop, I mean, trip-hop.

– Mario Cotto

Editor’s Note: Phantogram will be playing Filter Magazine’s Culture Collide showcases at SXSW, sponsored by KCRW. Find all the details here