Living here in Chicago, we’re not ready to give up summer until we’re good and ready. So even though the electronically inclined North Coast Music Festival purports to be “summer’s last stand” from August 31 to September 2, we’ll be living it up until the autumnal equinox.
Semantics aside, if you’re here with us, you can enjoy North Coast too, seeing artists such as Pretty Lights, Atmosphere, Big Boi, Girl Talk, The Rapture, Dan Deacon, YACHT, Rebirth Brass Band, People Under the Stairs, and many more in addition to some of dance music’s biggest names. See the full lineup here.
A few years ago, Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel took to recording their own music in a barn in upstate New York. Though it was never intended for the masses, the music made an auspicious debut via the 2010 album Eyelid Movies on Barsuk, and a loyal Phantogram following materialized — and continues to grow ever larger. In addition to praise from unexpected sources (Questlove,Big Boi, Fitz and the Tantrums, Kings of Leon), the duo’s popularity has risen from a years-long tour stint, loaded with sold-out shows, international bookings, and major festival appearances.
And in the midst of the tour hustle and bustle, Phantogram has managed to pull off yet another standout release in the form of Nightlife. Carter’s minimalist guitar lines, hip-hop beats, and assorted loops and samples weave the perfect melodic backing for Barthel’s breathy singing and, at times, his own reverb-laden vocals. The synths and drum-machine beats draw similarities to Eyelid Movies, but the new record holds its own as a mini-LP — and also holds fans over until the next full-length release.
Here, ALARM speaks with Carter about performing live, his collaboration with Barthel, and Nightlife.
What do you like about recording in a barn versus a recording studio?
It was circumstantial, really. We lived up in the country in upstate New York, and it’s what we had. My parents had a barn on their property, and I had been collecting a lot of recording equipment and learning how to record myself. Instead of having to pay a lot of money to go into a studio, we just did our first album ourselves, and the new record as well.
You have a long, diverse list of musical influences. What non-musical influences impact your songwriting?
Dreams definitely impact my lyric writing and our songwriting. Often when Sarah and I get together to work on music, we kind of come up with imaginary plots that would be in a movie. We think very visually when we’re writing.
What are your roles in songwriting?
I write the lyrics. I make the beats and I write most of the music, but often Sarah and I get together and write. Sometimes she’ll come up with something on the piano or guitar and bring it to the table, or I’ll make a beat or write something on guitar or piano, and we’ll bring it together.
Sometimes we just jam over a basic drum-machine rhythm and vamp for a few hours and write that way. Often when I write lyrics too, I’ll bounce them off Sarah and see what she thinks of it; so, sometimes even though she isn’t writing the lyrics, she’s connected to them anyway because she’s there while I’m writing them.
Despite its history and charm, Asheville, North Carolina isn’t widely known as a destination for music and culture. Many associate the town with the Blue Ridge Parkway, hippie drumming, and maybe Black Mountain College, a progressive institution that closed in 1957 but once was a center for artists like Merce Cunningham and John Cage. But look deeper and you’ll also find a contemporary music scene, classy bars, and a population of locals that are culturally aware and proud of their town.
And they’re nice — like deep-South nice. Maybe that’s why Robert Moog decided to spend the last 25 years of his life there.
Each Tuesday, Behind the Counter speaks to an independent record store to ask about its recent favorites, best sellers, and noteworthy trends.
Sporting two locations, (Fabulous!) Jackpot Records has served Portland’s independent music community for 13 years as both a new/used CD, LP, and DVD retailer and a record label that reissues lost treasures. We recently caught up with Burnside manager Patrick Dennehy to get some staff picks and see what has been trending.
The beloved, yearly music festival known as Moogfest is back. Usually held in New York City, Moogfest 2010 will be in Asheville, North Carolina, Robert Moog’s former home, to honor the late legend’s contributions to modern music. AC Entertainment has released its ever-expanding lineup, featuring artists carving out their own places in history as creative pioneers.
Taking place over Halloween weekend, from October 29-31, Moogfest 2010 will host performances in venues all over the historical city. Our favorites include El-P, Matmos, Jon Hopkins, Dan Deacon, DJ Spooky, Massive Attack, Four Tet, Jónsi, and RJD2.