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Checkmate Savage

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Album Review

Starting with the crisp Motorik click and synth crunch of "The Howling," Checkmate Savage finds the Phantom Band still engaged in a good hotwiring of fine templates that is starting to give the Scottish group more of its own identity. If the group perhaps inevitably recalls some of the strongest rhythmic moments of a similar forebear in fusion, Stereolab — the chunky but fluid beats and ghostly guitar of "Crocodile" could just as easily come from that group as from joint wellspring Neu! — then the Phantom Band still have their own take to provide, at once graceful and almost sternly focused, something which comes out perfectly in the surging conclusion of that same song. A good amount of this comes from easy, clear singing, which gives the band a bit more swagger than some of the more po-faced neo-art rockers out there now. As a result, a song like "Folk Song Oblivion" has some of the direct kick of bands like Pavement or the Jean-Paul Sartre Experience at their best, catchy and shimmering, but that same feeling is equally evident on the instrumental closer "The Whole Is on My Side," ending the album with a soft glow.

Customer Reviews

Now that's a pleasant surprise!

Caught the track "Howling' on the radio and decided to give the whole thing a punt, and it's a belter. A real plethora of ideas rather than a one trick pony which sets it apart from pretty much most UK acts. Might be that there's a lot of my favourites in here, Beefheart, Stereolab, Can, Pavement, Sparklehorse, Neil Young but Phantoms really do have their own distinct identity. That's helped by the lead singer having a cracking voice and singing in native Scots rather than cod-Americana up-front in the mix. Great guitar playing too (I love a bit of twang!). Production is fantastic mix of great arrangements and great sounds, making for an exciting and dynamic sounding record. Probably 4 out of 5 eventually, but for now it's a 5 for being a real breath of fresh inspiration!

Two firsts

As this albulm hadn't a review I thought I would offer up my first ever opinion on itunes. The stand out track of the album "Folk song oblivion" is worth the cost of the album alone but there are enough good tracks to back it up and make the purchase very worth while.If in doubt give FSO a go and then buy the rest if you like it.


Really Good Debut Album...Really Good When I Saw Them Live...Stand Out Tracks For Me.. Island,Folk Song Oblivion,Crocodile..


Formed: 2002 in Glasgow, Scotland

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

The Phantom Band's history is one of anarchy and mystery, full of relentless name changes (Les Crazy Boyz, Tower of Girls, Robert Redford, Robert Louis Stevenson, etc.), obscure cassette and CDR releases, and multiple side gigs. By 2009's Checkmate Savage however, the group seemed to settle on both a name and a general sound (a blend of noise, folk, and brooding Nick Cave-like dark touches). The band is known for unpredictable live shows, where they've worn bags on their heads or employed Stairmasters...
Full bio
Checkmate Savage, The Phantom Band
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Customer Ratings