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Out of Glasgow comes the self-made “Proto-RoboFolk” of The Phantom Band: Checkmate Savage is their debut, but they’ve been dicking around for years, and you can tell; they’re tight, and intelligent sounding. What they sound like is a bit harder to pin down. These songs are dense with poppy guitars, and driven by hypnotic rhythms; particular Dunedin Sound bands like The Bats, Straight Jacket Fits, Sneaky Feelings come to mind, but it’s not just that simple, because Rick Anthony’s baritone modulates with a kind of naive, Bonnie “Prince” Billy swagger; another point of departure would be a band like Blitzen Trapper, similarly walking the line between heavy 70’s guitar jams and folk-songs, but Phantom Band are neater (Folk Song Oblivion is a beautiful comp. in this vein). Another taste: Throwing Bones (the single) is a driving jam a la Dunedin, where slide guitars and cute keyboards suddenly segue into barbershop and it actually works! Tight, right? If I have one complaint about this album, it’s that the songs are just too damn long – nothing below four minutes, mostly far beyond, at six, or eight, with lots of repetitive, instrumental breaks – but it’s excusable for a debut. Exercise some self-restraint and give us more of this good stuff already.

****1/2