Phantogram was probably the first synth-pop band that got me hooked on the genre over five years ago with their superb self-titled EP and first full-length, Eyelid Moves in 2009. At the time, they were an unknown duo from somewhere in northern New York state, who drew comparisons to M83 and Blonde Redhead. Fast forward to 2014, and Phantogram has emerged as one of the most popular synth-pop bands in the world, mostly from word of mouth and some strategic placements on teen TV shows.
And I know that they have grown in popularity because one of our radio stations in Ottawa played a song from their latest LP, Voices, which was released last week. Of course, our radio station tried to pass them off as a “new band”.
As their popularity has grown, Phantogram, which compromises of Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter, has stuck to what has worked for them – synth beats with euphoric choruses and catchy hooks. On Voices, the duo doesn’t change the formula, yet it works. The standout tracks are “Celebrating Nothing” and “Nothing But Trouble” with their deep grooves and synth explosions.
“Fall in Love” is more characteristic of the duo’s earlier work with its synth-pop, dance-oriented tune. The duo did write a slow tune dedicated to “Bill Murray”, which must have been written while watching the ending to Lost in Translation.
Phantogram is touring here and there, including three shows at the end of this week in Montreal, Toronto, and London, Ontario.
Bleeding Rainbow is the self-described, mutant pop-rock band from Philadelphia, PA. In many ways, their name and the description is quite apt. First started as a duo involving Sarah Everton (singer/bass) and Rob Garcia (singer/guitar), the duo was originally called Reading Rainbow, and they played straight-up, indie garage rock – music that was gritty and full of hooks, akin to The Pack A.D.
Over a year ago, Reading Rainbow became Bleeding Rainbow, as the band expanded to a quartet with the inclusion of Al Creedon (lead guitar) and Greg Frantz (drummer). Their additions allowed the band to produce a feel-good, indie pop-ish album with the excellent Yeah Right., which was released in January 2013.
Now with their latest release, Interrupt, which came out yesterday, Bleeding Rainbow continues to evolve, this time producing a pop-rock-punk album that is louder, harder, darker, and more aggressive than their previous albums. The band has been open that this album is a nod to the music that they listened to as teens, and they’ve been frank to identify My Bloody Valentine as one of those bands. As such, this album isn’t the type of album that will leave you all warm and fuzzy. “Tell Me” is probably the most “poppish” track on the album while “Images” has an in-your-face, punk feel.
Considering that the band has released two quite different records in the last 13 months, it will be interesting to see what direction they follow. Whatever it may be, it’ll probably be something like memorable like their previous album.
Bleeding Rainbow is on tour right now. Check their Facebook page for tour dates. And help them out by buying their record, as the band encountered a few difficulties recently while crossing the border back to the US.
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