A talk show on KUCI, 88.9 FM or kuci.org pertaining to life questions and regular music rants. Fridays from 4-5 PM!
At Phantogram’s formation in 2007, Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel created an electro-rock fusion that was innovative in the indie rock world. It had a zinging edge to it, and vocals that screamed power and angst, but in a melodic sense. The duo’s long presence in the scene has allowed them to continually sell out shows, but it does not make up for the fact that their new album, “Voices,” does not add anything new to the table.
“Voices” is a compilation of overall upbeat electronic pop rock combined with high-pitched vocals and ironically depressing track titles. The album opens with the single, “Nothing But Trouble.” Immediately picture the band opening with this to get the crowd going and excited. It’s a strong, happy note that sets a tone for an album that will be straight indie rock with added influences of chamber pop and electronica.
As the album begins to progress … oh wait, it actually doesn’t do that. The next three to four tracks sound exactly the same. Now, one can give credit that they are simply good songs. It’s no wonder Phantogram has managed to remain relevant in the music scene for so long because these tracks are intricately arranged. However, they each seem to follow a similar formula. With the aforementioned descriptions of high vocal notes and electronic buzz comes redundancy and inability to distinguish between songs in ways other than when Carter is singing and when Barthel is singing.
“Black Out Days” and “Fall in Love” sound like minimal variations of “Nothing but Trouble,” and “Never Going Home,” which is vocally led by Carter. The track itself slows down a bit and the chorus is slightly more pleasant to listen to, but otherwise the tracks blend into one long and continuous one.
As soon as Sarah Barthel leads vocals again with “The Day You Died” it goes back to the same formula. It gets even more bothersome with “Bad Dreams,” which tries to capture the audiophile’s ear by including a catchy electronic drum line. Then the vocals come in high, and the overall sound becomes quite grating.
This set of high vocal notes becomes too much, and the ironically depressing lyrics titles do too. “Celebrating Nothing” and “My Only Friend” are even more of the same sadness, and the duo tries to build intensity in the final track, but in the end it leaves no memorable impression whatsoever.
The only track that does mildly stand out is “Bill Murray,” which seems to encompass a melodic set of instrumentals, a mild “indie lullaby.” In regard to whether the song actually embodies the sentiments/acting talents of Murray … let’s just say they did it for the whimsicality of the title.
Overall “Voices” is a set of droney, yet well-produced electronic rock tracks that start to mesh into one another. This isn’t to say that the music itself is bad quality. Rather, the songs lack any sort of innovation or experimentation. The duo knows what they are good at and simply stick to it. However, their style applies to only one formula, and this one does not work for multiple songs.
ONLY RECOMMENDED IF: You’re into “The Naked & Famous,” and want to hear the original sound.
2013 was a pretty monumental year in terms of music, but I’m sure 2014 will be just as exciting too. Here are just a few to list:
1. Young the Giant - Mind Over MatterJanuary 21st
It’s been over 3 years since YTG released their initial self-titled in the fall of 2010. As a fan of primarily the first half of the album, will the sophomore release bring something that can remain attention-grabbing throughout?
2. Azaelia Banks - Broke With Expensive Taste
According to Idolator, Azealia Banks has yet again pushed back the release of her debut album because the label supposedly “changed their mind.” Banks has left quite an impression on the electronic music world. How long-lasting can she keep this till fans lose hope?
3. St. Vincent - St. Vincent February 24/25th
Annie Clark has consistently made well-composed chamber pop with an edgier twist to it; the most recent single off the upcoming album (“Birth in Reverse”) proves to be just as such. With the slight twists and turns that music has made toward DJs and boards, Clark sticks to her roots, and this one is sure to be the next best yet.
4. Broken Bells - After the Disco January 14th
A genius collaboration between Mercer and Danger Mouse, I wasn’t expecting a sophomore album to come out. Rather, I was expecting them to follow the same experimental side project trends that Divine Fits and Dept. of Eagles took—a one time ordeal. However, here comes an even kookier follow up that is already blowing NPR stations away. And by this I mean I’ve heard “Holding on For Life” pretty consistently on KCRW lately.
5. Beck - Morning PhaseFebruary 14th
Another artist that got lost in the shadows after the 3-year-mark.Regardless, Beck Hansen’s singles remain ever present in movies and Spotify playlists. With some side promotions (Warby Parker) finally comes Morning Phase. The tracklist is already out, and I’m eager to see what Beck has been doing with music all these years.
Happy new year everyone! Although this past Friday was my last broadcast for Isms & Rhythms, I will still be continuing via VLOG! It will still be in the same format as the talk show was; you’ll just get to see my face! Also, videos will be posted every 2 weeks. I am doing a vlog for the first time…ever. So please, feel free to offer incite, comments, or other concerns on how I may improve by clicking on the video and scrolling down to that comments section.
Also, leave suggestions for things I can talk about! I am more than happy to experiment, and I’m looking forward to continue my rants with visual accompaniment! Have a wonderful winter quarter and subscribe subscribe subscribe!!!