The Phantom Band – Checkmate Savage

This record just won the 2009 BAMS award voted for by bloggers, music writers and presenters in Scotland.  I put the Phantom Band on at Trampoline in the 2nd month of shows.  They played shows in both Glasgow and Edinburgh for us and were mighty impressive.  I was not at all surprised when they got snapped up by Chemikal Underground.  I always thought they had a really good chance.  There was something brilliant about them, and I mean stand out brilliant, when they played those shows back in 2007.  And yet, for some unknown reason – I’m not even sure why if I’m honest – I never got around to buying their record until my fellow BAMS voted it the best record of 2009, by quite some distance I might add too.  Which, not only means it was the best record of 2009 but also the best record by a Scottish band in 2009.

Listening to it over the past week or so it it’s instantly infectious. ‘Howling’ starts with a fabulous bass line and drum beat and sets the tone for what is a pretty cracking debut album if you ask me. ‘Folk Song Oblivion’ is another cracker but it’s ‘Throwing Bones’ that I still remember from the Trampoline shows.  Brilliant.  I completely understand where all the votes for this record came from and excatly why.  They are like nothing else in Scotland, that I can think of anyways.  There is no attempt to be mainstream, in fact, I’d argue that much of this is as far from mainstream as it could get and yet they still have this real instant catchyness and poppiness to their music.

I noted over the past few days there’s been a little east coast/west coast tention brewing again and being discussed over on songbytoad.  It’s a shame that there is still this silly rivalry between the 2 cities, but quite amusing and ironic that the band who have produced what critics in Scotland think is the best record of 2009 are from Glasgow but sound like they are from Edinburgh!  I love this record.  Pure and simple.  I think it’s going to be a big year for this band and if they can maintain such high standards and produce a follow up anywhere near as good then the future definitely is bright.  I’m sorry this is such a late appraisal of the record, but it’s never too late to agree about how good something is.  You can check out the band here.  Enjoy.

TSP Grade = A