Best of 2011: Paste Magazine’s Top 20 New Bands


20. The Lumineers
19. Generationals
18. Caveman
17. The Belle Brigade
16. Rubblebucket
15. Kopecky Family Band
14. Tennis
13. David Wax Museum
12. Of Monsters and Men
11. WU LYF
10. Phantogram
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
7. Seryn
6. Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside
5. The Head and the Heart
4. Typhoon
3. The Civil Wars
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
1. Alabama Shakes

For more info…

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  1. corey says

    congrats guys, you rock 🙂

  2. Stanley Johnson says

    Phantogram is truly worthy of being on the list. I saw Rubblebucket this summer, so I can attest that the bar is pretty high for this list.

  3. Mike Hotter says

    love the props for Phantogram – VERY much deserved. The annoying thing is the music press, reading the aspersions cast Upstate NY’s way in almost every national piece on them. Saratoga Springs is “quaint” and “obscure”? Provincial thinking on the part of these oh-so-worldly journalists just pours out whenever a NY band not from Brooklyn is mentioned and praised. At least Phantogram and Sean Rowe are shaking this all up – more power to them!

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