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Matt On Music: Phantogram and Planningtorock

Last updated: 02/19/14 7:10pm


I’ve been excited for Phantogram’s album since I heard their beautiful single, “Nothing But Trouble,” last month. The song, which sounded like an electronic remake of Arcade Fire’s “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains),” made me excited to hear the band’s other work. The album didn’t disappoint.

Planningtorock, the electronic music project of Jam Rostron, has been brought to my attention by a few people. Sorry, everyone. I don’t get it.

Phantogram: “Voices” (Republic) For a band called Phantogram, whose album is called “Voices” and whose album cover looks like the poster to an old Brian De Palma film, the music here is surprisingly lovely. While there is a temptation to view them as another indielectropop band, the vocals bring Portishead to mind, with Sarah Barthel’s gently powerful voice showing off the confidence of Beth Gibbons. That confidence, coupled with hooks as lyrical as “Don’t listen to me/I’m nothing but trouble/I’m losing my mind” and “Tell me the truth, I know you’re leaving/Tell me the truth, I know it’s you/Strange it didn’t affect me,” ensures that these are real songs that could work in any other genre. CHVRCHES and La Roux may get lost without their synths, but Phantogram could easily switch to guitars and be fine. Grade: A MINUS

Planningtorock: “All Love’s Legal” (Forced Exposure) Loud electronic music with feminist lyrics seems, in theory, so much like my thing that it’s strange how I can never get behind it. Still, The Knife’s
“Shaking the Habitual”—which I found incredibly overrated, especially by my favorite critics—at least had subtlety. So, when this album’s remix of that album’s masterpiece “Full of Fire” is retitled “Let’s
Talk About Gender, Baby” to highlight a key line, it irks me. Other songs, which have titles like
“Misogyny Drop Dead” and “Patriarchy Over & Out,” irk me even more. Stop saying it, Jam. Show it. Grade: B MINUS

Published Feb 19, 2014 in Life

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