20. The Lumineers
17. The Belle Brigade
15. Kopecky Family Band
13. David Wax Museum
12. Of Monsters and Men
11. WU LYF
Hometown: Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Band Members: Sarah Barthel, Josh Carter
Album: Eyelid Movies
For Fans Of: The XX, Beach House, Cocteau Twins
The general consensus is that electronic-pop duo Phantogram materialized from the ether, emerging from nowhere to produce the type of danceable tracks Salvador Dali might craft if he traded his paintbrush for a drum machine and analog synthesizer. This is nearly the truth; Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter’s “nowhere” is the obscure New York town of Saratoga Springs. The pair had no pedigree as previous members of lauded bands or grand industry connections when they wrote the songs that became 2010’s sleeper success story “Eyelid Movies.”
“We weren’t planning on making a debut record,” Barthel says. “Technically it was supposed to be our demo. It just caught on a lot faster than we expected.” The vocalist and keyboardist explains this with an air of disbelief in her voice while Phantogram prepares to soundcheck before their sold-out headlining show in Denver, a mere 1,800 miles from their quaint upstate New York home.
Common threads permeate Phantogram’s catalog—synthetic beats, organic guitar lines, Barthel’s angelic alto and Carter’s urgent tenor—but songs never run together. “Josh and I always want to keep things moving,” Sarah says. “We admire The Beatles, how every single song sounded different but it worked so well together. We’re always inspired and influenced by so many different artists that I don’t think we even could make all our songs sound the same,” she says. — Ryan Wasoba
9. The Vaccines
8. The Joy Formidable
6. Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside
5. The Head and the Heart
3. The Civil Wars
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
1. Alabama Shakes
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