Lay your finger down

Photography by the REAL Aaron Dunn

I love nice surprises, when some never-heard-of-em band with a vague enough description written by lard knows who (check this one, “the end result is truly special, bringing to mind the beat savvy of The Beta Band, the other-worldliness of Super Furry Animals and the mood of Hallowed Ground-era Violent Femmes.” I had to at least give it a try, how could I not?) that I casually toss them on the iPod not thinking much about it, but then when I’m scrolling along one day and see it and think, “oh yeah… let’s give dis a go” and the pulsating moody darkness that is The Phantom Band’s debut album for next year Checkmate Savage kicks in, and who knows, maybe it’s the day, the weather, the season, or just the Handsome Furs-esque sound effects from the opening notes, but it connected.

Very nice indeed. I even considered this one for my best of 2008, which, by the way, I should be presenting soon with accompanying mixtape, just like last time, but unfortunately this is a 2009, so we’ll have to wait and see how this one’s a-sittin’ come next December. They have some tough competition though, with AC Newman, Decemberists, Neko, Handsom Furs, and many many more coming out with new albums in the coming year (yay!). Should be an amazing year, as every year is if you dig deep enough, and I can’t wait! But like I said, we’ve got to wrap this year up, yet I’m presenting a next year album! Confused yet?

Somehow… I’m not.

As for the best of 2008, I’m wrapping up the mixtape and finalizing the selections now. It’s coming along quite nicely (surprisingly, considering how many great albums there were). But down in the society, in the basement, we are also compling the boards best of 2008. Basically, you give your top ten, then each No. 1 gets 10 points, No. 2 gets 9 points, etc, etc…. When we are all done, we’ll see who reigns supreme… THEN, we’ll build a mixtape from THAT! So you, my dear readers, will get not one, but TWO best of lists and TWO mixtapes! Sweet, eh?

I know what your thinking, “holy shit, that’s fucking awesome!” And you are right, but here’s the kicker to the creme ala kicker or whatever…. You, that’s right, YOU, not the person standing behind you, but you can help make the best of list even best-of-er! And help make the mixtape, more mixtapered! All you gotta do is hop on down, sign on up, and get your list in ASAP. Then, once we are compiled (yay charts!), we’ll all work together and make the ultimate community best of 08 mixtape on the entire internet!

So… come on down and join in the fun NOW!

Man, I really got distracted there, didn’t I? Sorry about that, just excited. What were we talking about? Oh yeah, Glasgow’s proto-robofolk act The Phantom Band. I’ll tell you, if this is any indication of how 2009’s going to be, it’s going to be another mighty fine year. The comparisons are pretty apt, simply wonderfully moody electro-ish pop/folk kinda thing with National-like vocals. Have we compared enough? I think so, just scroll on down and enjoy!

The Phantom Band – 01 The Howling

Time leaves
Certain darkness come
Lay your finger down
Close my eyes
And still my tongue
Made me dust again…

The Phantom Band – 02 Burial sounds
The Phantom Band – 03 Folk song oblivion
The Phantom Band – 04 Crocodile

Give these Scots all your love here, here, and here now!

2 comments for “Lay your finger down

  1. Ross Davidson
    December 29, 2008 at 12:53 PM

    I was passed a promo of the Checkmate Savage album by someone at work and this is the blurb I now feel is my human duty to bounce around the internet like a crazy man…

    It is the best album I’ve heard in absolutely ages, as I toe-tapped my way through its synthy-krautrock-with-a-twist-of-something-sweet anthems (with a little sniff of 70s rock), stopping only to be moved to tears by the stunningly beautiful folk hymn ‘Island’. This is a band who seem to have so much to offer and, if any criticism is due, then it can only be that perhaps they are holding back a little on this record (?) for the sake of making a concise and accessible album. Don’t take this too negatively- on the contrary, I love the record how it is- my feeling that this might only be the tip of the iceberg in terms of what might have ended up on this lp only fills me with confidence that Checkmate Savage will serve as a neat stepping stone to greater magic with the next one as this promising band find their feet and settle into the public domain. In other words, I have a feeling that this is a band we’ll be hearing alot more of.

    “rocks and blood, blood turned an oily black beneath the hard northern starlight” were the words used in a great review I just read of Checkmate Savage. Although all the songs are fun and up-beat, varying a great deal in style (eclectic genre-hopping) there is a subtle darkness that pervades. Being from Scotland originally I get a strong sense of an ancient and mysterious beat thudding it’s way through the cold earth and onto the lp, or the faint shreek of a banshee echoing from the misty gloaming and through the epic tracks. The faint reverberation of countless untimely deaths, the distant murmur of a free church gathering, a creek and a scratch from the dark foundations of Roslyn chapel and a stain on Aleister Crowley’s pyjama bottoms… spooky phantoms, who the heck are you?!


  2. Tsuru
    December 29, 2008 at 1:59 PM

    wonderfully said, really…. your words should replace mine on the post.

    thank you so much…

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