Boomkat Product Review:
Checkmate Savage is the impressive debut album by Glaswegian group The Phantom Band, who emerge from the shadows - having formerly played their gigs with bags over their heads - fashioning an intelligent take on contemporary pop, with more than a hint of krautrock sophistication sneaking into the mix.
'The Howling' actually brings to mind Bonnie 'Prince' Billy in terms of the actual songwriting and vocal melody, but the band forge a sound that verges on outright prog at times, ultimately culminating in an elegaic breakdown sequence at the end, which makes for a curiously deflated way of getting an album started. 'Burial Sounds' launches into a more persistently rock-like aesthetic, establishing swampy, blues-influenced instrumentation alongside droning electronic tones, all leading into the album's first big payoff: 'Folk Song Oblivion', a hard-riffing, tremendousl well-written piece that sets detuned, grinding verse riffs against light, uplifting chorus parts that have a faint suggestion of Pavement about them.
There's a lot of good stuff here and it's often opened up over long song durations, yet never at the listener's expense. For instance, nine-minuter 'Island' finds the band in Will Oldham mode again, although this time there's a hint of Slint's visceral post-rock thrown into the equation. All very good indeed.