KEXP at CMJ 2009, Day 2: Phantogram

photo by Carolina Rivera

Phan⋅to⋅gram [noun]: A phantogram is a form of optical illusion created with a pair of 2-D images that are distorted in a particular way as to appear 3-D to the viewer. Guitarist Josh Carter and keyboardist Sarah Barthel are just that-- an illsusion of depth and perspective with their rich, layered and complex music. Eyes closed, the duo from Greenwich, New York sounds more like a full 5-member band rather than a couple of best friends rockin’ out with a lap top and a few instruments.

Since their formation in 2007, Phantogram has already opened for acts like Ra Ra Riot, Yeasayer and Brazilian Girls. Carter and Barthel’s distinct technological urban rhythm and organic groove sound has also sparked the creation of a new indie genre, “street beat/psyche pop.” Fellow NY musician Matthew Loiacono conjured up the musical category when the two still went by Charlie Everywhere. The pair dropped the “half-baked idea” of a name after running into copyright issues and before releasing their self-titled EP in May 2009.

Unlike many bands forced to relinquish their title of honor, Carter feels the new name better embodies the essence of their project. The two typically begin their music writing process by visualizing short stories or films to create a song’s theme. Check out “Running From The Cops” and “When I’m Small,” which was featured on KEXP’s own Song of the Day, to hear some of their spacey synths and dreamy melodies.


photos by Carolina Rivera
Live at The Cutting Room Studios NYC

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