Just when it seems you haven’t heard some good,new music, you discover something fresh and exciting.
Enter Phantogram, the electronic pop/rock duo comprised of bombshell singer/keyboardist Sarah Barthel and multi-instrumentalist Josh Carter, who will make its El Paso debut at Lowbrow Palace on Sunday, Sept. 15.
Known for their genre-bending sound and sensational music videos, Phantogram has been making music for over a decade.
Since this marks its first stop in the borderland, here are five of the band’s best songs you should know:
1. “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore,” from the album “Three”
It amazes me that an “electronic” group that relies mainly on synthesizers and drum machines has made one of the best, most organic hard rock songs of the decade. A throat-cutting tempest with buzz-saw guitars and Barthel’s desperate howl equate a love gone bad to drug addiction. It’s an incredibly cathartic song with an even more cathartic video, filled with imagery of motorcycles, tsunamis, demolition and bodysuits.
2. “Fall In Love,” from the album “Voices”
The song that catapulted Phantogram from cult favorite to mainstream sensation is a twisted, angular kaleidoscope of pulsing synthesizers and strings, showcasing the duo’s appreciation for more experimental sonic textures influenced by artists such as Prince and The Flaming Lips.
3. “Mouthful of Diamonds,” from the album “Eyelid Movies”
Brought to my attention by noted area fan Ileana Martinez, “Mouthful of Diamonds” is one of Phantogram’s most straightforward yet effective songs. Martinez describes it as a “dream landscape with a subtle beat and swaying guitar accompaniment tied to a dark subject.” “It became my favorite song of theirs as soon as I heard it,” she said.
4. “Don’t Move,” from the EP “Nightlife”
Phantogram has a penchant for sonic manipulation, and this is perhaps most evident on the single “Don’t Move,” which shows a clear influence of noted sample-based musical collagists such as J Dilla and Madlib. Barthel’s lyrics seem to evoke the paranoia of a failing relationship – but in her own subtle, blissful manor.
5. “Mister Impossible,” single
(possibly from an upcoming album?)
Riding a fierce and gratifying hip-hop beat, “Mister Impossible” is without a doubt one of the most confident and charging songs Phantogram has ever recorded. It moves like a German U-boat: relentless and determined. Not to mention it showcases the vocal dynamics between Barthel and Carter.
Barthel feels the power, exclaiming midway through the song: “Isn’t it exciting?”