Artist to Watch: Phantogram

Phantogram, a band based in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., delivers tons of energy and electro beats.

I was in Geneva, N.Y., last February solely to see Ra Ra Riot. It was a literal homecoming for CNY’s indie darlings, since guitarist Milo Bonacci is originally from Geneva.  And, as usual, their set didn’t disappoint. But yet another Ra Ra Riot triumph isn’t what I left raving about.

Instead, I was introduced that night to a duo from Saratoga Springs, N.Y., called Phantogram. They were the opener’s opener and, since it was held in the local opera house, everyone was sitting in theater seats with the house lights on as Phantogram took the stage. Yet their first song got everyone’s feet tapping quietly, and the second had folks bobbing their heads and looking to their neighbor for reassurance. By the middle of the third, the front half of the house was on their feet in front of the stage.

Phantogram is made up of Sarah Barthel on keys/vocals and Josh Carter on vocals/guitar. They’re small in numbers but big in everything else. They describe their music as “street beat, psyche pop” but I’d call it electronic indie-dance rock that demands a physical reaction.  If you were to listen to an audio recording of the band, the first thing you would notice is the emphatic beat in each and every track. All of the percussion is preprogrammed by Carter and Barthel and it’ll make you question whether or not you need real drummers in your life anymore(though to be fair, drums are Carter’s original instrument). 

The band’s stage presence is just as attention-grabbing. They don’t take up much physical space, but the visible energy they display fills whatever venue they’re in. Carter moves about the stage while utilizing his guitar as almost another percussion, with catchy Andrew Bird-styled loops. Barthel gets down as if no one is watching her, while adding her light, airy vocals over the top of whatever hypnotic synth riffs she unleashes.

Full disclosure – my enthusiasm for Phantogram is so high that I wrote a review of them on that Geneva night that ended up on their MySpace page. I eventually grabbed them for an audio interview on my blog, and I even started their Wikipedia page.

So if you don’t believe my praise of them, that’s fine. However, respected radio stations like and KEXP have started spinning their stuff. Phantogram also have their first European tour coming up this fall and their full-length just dropped overseas (it’s rumored to be available in the States come November).  Just listen to the tracks below, check out this BBC Music review and jump on the bandwagon while you can. It’s still early enough to earn bragging rights (“You’ve never heard of Phantogram?!?”) when it comes to your friends.


Official MySpace page
YouTube: “Mouthful of Diamonds,” “Turn It Off,” “As Far As I Can See.”
Twitter: @Phantogram


Thumbs up.

Thumbs up.

Post new comment

* Field must be completed for your comment to appear on The NewsHouse
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.