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Standout Track: “Talk Me Down,” a new percussion-rich groove of reggae-kissed brass and funky guitar from D.C.-based Phantomweight, whose latest EP, Value, dropped in August. With influences that range from Middle Eastern music to Gang of Four, the band’s current roster—guitarist-vocalist Ben Lucas, drummer Brian Lafleur, trombonist Matt Hotez, bassist Tyler Sari, and saxophonist Steve Sax—found one another via an ad that Lucas posted on Craigslist calling for musicians with an interest in punk, funk, and world music. “We love both traditional and pop music from all over,” Lucas says. “We’ve been a solid five-piece for almost a year now.”
Musical Motivation: With its bouncy bassline and relaxed beat, “Talk Me Down” exudes the effortless energy of an impromptu jam session. “The verses started with a samba-inspired drumbeat and a syncopated bass/guitar riff,” Lucas says. “The chorus was inspired by Afropop rhythms and textures.” The band’s affinity for Afropop shines on Lafleur’s dynamic use of percussion, too. “The congas add the main rhythmic heft,” Lucas says. “We also added woodblock, shaker, and tambourine.”
Creative Chaos: According to Lucas, the recording process for “Talk Me Down” wasn’t quite as carefree as the song itself. “The process was chaotic,” he says. “We started recording a set of songs in February 2014 and I just finished the vocal tracking this past week. Meanwhile, in that time, I had a kid, our bass player got married, our drummer left to pursue another project and then returned, our trombonist started grad school, and we added a sax player.” But the band found ways to push through, opting for unconventional studio space when necessary. “We recorded all over the place,” Lucas says. “Even in my car when I couldn’t find another place to be loud.”
Stream “Talk Me Down” after the jump.