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Checkmate Savage CD

4.8 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (26 Jan. 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Chemikal Underground Records
  • ASIN: B001KKRD54
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 82,071 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Product Description

Checkmate Savage - The Phantom Band [CD]

BBC Review

Glasgow's Phantom band have been stealthily developing their melange of... well, just about everything good in modern music, for four years now, finally settling on a name that encapsulated their somewhat indefinable approach. If we were lazy we'd reference krautrock, folk, post rock, tribal rhythms or even (don't laugh) Big Country. But we're not, and let's just leave it at 'very good' for now. Here's why...

Each track represents a tussle, taking you in several directions at once. Only on the instrumental Crocodile (it's a very good thing when a band have the intelligence to know exactly when to shut their mouths), is undeniably 'motorik' in sound; although it's more like a gaelic Neu!.

Checkmate Savage (the title alludes to our limited tenure as top species on the planet) has an undeniably large and boastful, if doomy, sound. But an heroic ability to throw caution to the wind and sound brazenly BIG mustn't be mistaken for the meaningless posturing of a band as dreadful as Glasvegas. We're talking of a devil-may-care combination of six souls throwing everything they know at a wall and seeing what sticks. It has little to do with boring old-fashioned rock.

The resultant pot pourri combines obtuse lyricism with experimentalism, analogue drones and pulses, and, most importantly bloody great tunes. Opening single The Howling is as good an ear worm as you're liable to hear this year. The previously released Throwing Bones rattles along like a hellbound charger racing down Sauciehall Street on a Saturday night.

So, thrills, spills and and an unabashed ability to sing in their native tongue. What are you waiting for? --Chris Jones

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Even a casual glance at the song titles will quickly reveal that lyrically this is a dark, dark album. But musically it's an intoxicating, exhilarating and wholly original ride through a largely uncategorisable landscape, albeit one with some familiar signposts along the way. Echoes of The Doors and Kraftwerk are evident amongst myriad influences, whilst the production and arrangements constantly surprise and repeatedly confound expectations.

Just when you think you've got the measure of a particular track it'll make an unexpected turn in a completely different direction, never more strikingly than on "Throwing Bones" where an accapella barbershop quartet suddenly hijacks the tune in mid flow. By rights, of course, it shouldn't work but in fact it does so spectacularly, with a remarkable self-assurance that seems stitched through the entire work. At times it's hard to believe that this is a debut album, such is the self-confidence running through its veins.

There are no throwaway tunes here. Nothing clocks in at under four minutes, whilst the brooding "Island" takes almost nine to build from solo guitar and voice to its powerful choral climax. Only on the album's closer "Whole is On My Side" do you sense the band beginning to run out of steam a bit, but by then they've done more than enough to earn their five stars.

Very early days still, but I'll be amazed if this isn't on many people's "Best of 2009" list come the end of the year.
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Format: Audio CD
If you attempted to place Checkmate Savage , the debut album by Scottish six piece The Phantom Band , into genre specific slots you would probably end up with R.S.I from whipping it out of one and then into another as yet another of the nine songs on the album switched styles midway , quarter, an eighth of the way through .This album is harder to pin down than an eel swathed in grease relaxing in a paddling pool made of butter.
Comparisons have been made the Beta Band and I can see the logic of that . The Phantom Band have a similar off-kilter but esoterically appealing approach to music . But they subvert norms and interweave styles even more .At times it sounds so resolutely studious and serious you fear lives may depend on it , other times it's so playful and off-beat that it seems life's just there to be enjoyed and to hell with everything. Checkmate Savage is imperfect but gloriously so.
The six members of The Phantom Band work in fields as disparate as art, law, social work and librarianship when not fulfilling band duty and maybe it's this eclectic mixture of influences that make the music so thrillingly hybrid. Rock mixes with folk via electronica , or splenetic rhythms vie with motorik rumblings or portentous keyboards pinion bass that growls like an inflamed appendix into a queasy pop chorus. Choral effects pop up at oddly opportune moments. Extended jams ( the recording process with ex-Delgado Paul Savage-perhaps the title alludes to him is some way?- took in lots of formless jams ) emerge gracefully from the arrangements.
The nine minute centrepiece of the album "Island" starts out as a lovely lilting acoustic ballad with ascending choral vocals with the vocals about "wildest Love" and "purest love" picked out by gentle banjo.
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If there's any justice in the world the Phantom Band will be the Next Big Thing. The production is wonderful - sympathetic without being overly slick, synthetic and/or organic as appropriate - and, most importantly, the songs are original and powerful. Scotland has a recent history of great bands from the Skids, through Goodbye Mr.McKenzie, Big Country, the Cocteau Twins, to most recently Glasvegas, and the Phantom Band not only keep that tradition alive but effect an evolution, and raise the bar higher still. Occasionally sounding like the best of recent American indie, but most often sounding like nothing you've ever heard before, seek out the Phantoms without delay.
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Format: MP3 Download
This is one of the most strikingly unique albums of the decade. I purchased this album upon a friend's recommendation and am so glad that I did. Influences, such as Can, are present but never overbearingly obvious for the listener, which in an age of obscene adaptations really does provide something fresh.

Rick Anthony provides Curtisian vocals that have a similar clear Scottish twang and delivery as Malcolm Middleton, but still maintains a distinctiveness, a true talent and certainly a voice that helps carry the record.
All in all, worth a buy!
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Agree wholeheartedly with all the positive reviews so far. An album that fascinates initially, unveils itself slowly and surprisingly, then while you're still busy smiling helplessly at the invention of it all, reveals that it's become the tune in your head for all occasions.

As a random aside for anyone who's interested, i have found this to be an excellent album for running to. This and Interpol's 'Our Love To Admire' back to back, 10k of leafy Autumn roads, job's a good 'un.
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This squarely indie release comes on like a less twee Frightened Rabbit, but then devolves into a more complex animal. The synths and howls of the appropriately named `Howling' mean more to this album that the pronounced Scots accent that warms its environs like a late night whiskey.

The foreboding drums of `Burial Sounds', chants and moog synths of `Folk Song Oblivion' all betray the album's progressive and psychedelic qualities. The latter of these two tracks later breaks into a less oppressive number and resembles dawn breaking from an inky night. With the refrain mention of `mountainsides', we are swiftly returned to all things bucolic, as the track name may suggest.

`Crocodile' is a lengthy instrumental, which opens with five minutes of building percussion that recalls a frog chorus with its choice of wood instruments. The break, five minutes in, introduces a post-rock sentiment to the fabric, which earlier brooded and simmered to the boil. `Checkmate Savage' embraces the eclectic and `Halfhound' opens with a bluesy-rock riff before evolving into a lolloping pysch. rock beast.

And the eclecticism continues, looking for the Scottish reply to Fleet Foxes White Winter Hymnal? Then, look no further than `Island', a part prog, part folk masterpiece.

`Checkmate Savage' features an upside-down hallway on its cover, and whilst this album will not turn its listeners' world so dramatically, it may well sufficiently jostle him into consciousness during these cold, winter months.
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