Daydream guitar pop? Indie-psych? College rock? Art-rock? Who cares, it's bloody ace!
I had no expectations before I listened to this album, having not heard of the group before, but wow, what a treat! It reminded me of why I love guitar based indie music before it became synonymous with the dreaded landfill tag. What it represents is a truly alternative and enlightening listening experience. A real ragbag of styles and moods, melodically inventive with cryptic lyrics and more twists and turns than a mountain road. Instrumentally it's a lo-fi guitar, bass and drums affair but it's what you do with that template that counts.
Hailing from Portland, Maine, USA, the band were originally called The Ponys until a similarly named band from Chicago were booked to play SXSW the same year. Hence a name change and Phantom Buffalo was born.
Lead vocalist Jonathan Balzano-Brookes possesses a pure tone, not rock in the slightest but extremely likeable and perfect for carrying the band's brand of dazzling and beguiling pop tunes. (I've found myself waking up a couple of times this week unable to get their song “Atleesta” out of my head. Kylie would no doubt approve!)
The problem may be that it will prove too esoteric for a lot of people's tastes; the band's previous two albums have all been released to large critical acclaim offset by the public's indifference, which is a shame as there's some stunning stuff on here. Investing a little time with this album reaps huge rewards. A real gem.
Click here for Phantom Buffalo's website.