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Exclusive First Listen: Phantogram

Hundreds of bands played the music showcase known as CMJ in New York City last fall, but someone told me that I absolutely had to see Phantogram. I went, I saw, I loved.

Phantogram is a Saratoga Springs, N.Y., duo: Sarah Barthel plays keyboards and sings, while Josh Carter plays guitar. These folks have been friends since junior high — about a dozen years ago — and the chemistry is undeniable. Plenty of percussive beats and sonic textures pervade the music, so it's hard to tell who's doing what, but that's just fine.

In performance, swirling lights and projections reflect in light what you hear in sound. Barthel is a visual artist, and this is a team that uses its arty sensibility to make mysterious and danceable pop music.

Without the live light show, the music feels a bit less dense and even more fun. If you want to think about the words and music together, their songs function as self-contained vignettes. They feel a little bit like short films, but you can just let the beats and sound carry you away, drift off into a dream and dance.

You can hear Eyelid Movies, the duo's new album of mysterious and danceable pop music, in its entirety on this page until the disc's release on Feb. 9. Please leave your thoughts on the album in the comments section below.

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In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.
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