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Tuesday, 14 May 2013 08:24

Charting the Music: Phoenix, 'Bankrupt!'

Charting the Music: Phoenix, 'Bankrupt!'
Written by Travis Dettmann
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In times when the world often seems on the brink of financial collapse, there isn't a better time to dance and let loose. Phoenix knows what's up on its latest release "Bankrupt!"

The fifth installment of the Phoenix legacy features 10 tracks packed full of synth-pop sounds, making "Bankrupt!" a must have for long stretches of interstate pavement. From beginning to end, expect uncontrollable body movements and minimum swerving.

88.1 KDHX chart position: #4 CMJ Top 30 for the week of May 7, 2013.

Record label, release date and producer: Glassnote Records released "Bankrupt!" on April 22, 2013; it was produced by Phoenix and Philippe Zdar.

Can be heard on: Rocket 88 with Darren Snow, Emotional Rescue with Cat Pick and Coin-Operated Radio with Ryan.

RIYL: Two Door Cinema Club, Passion Pit and Foals.

Hometown: Versailles, France.

Standout tracks: Hints of Passion Pit with whiffs of the '80s leaves listeners with aroma of "Dakkar Noir." The drums alone in "S.O.S. in Bel-Air" place you in the repetitious sway. The synth intro of "Don't" faintly reminds one of Mark Mothersbaugh's "Rugrats Theme Song," but soon after one realizes that it is more than a Nickelodeon cartoon.

About the band: Sometime in 1999, a Paris suburb became the location for the formation of what was to become Phoenix. Astralwerks and Source released Phoenix's debut "United" along with "Alphabetical" and "It's Never Been Like That" with a few years in between each release. The band's fourth effort "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix" brought on multiple television appearances, festival performances and awards.

This producer: Philippe Zdar is to praise for co-producing Phoenix's "Bankrupt!" as well as the previous "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix." He is also responsible for mixing records for Cut Copy, Chromeo and Two Door Cinema Club and co-fronting the house/synth-pop duo Cassius. You may have unknowingly heard Cassius's "I Love You So," as it was sampled on Kanye West and Jay-Z's "Watch the Throne" from 2011.

This label: Daniel Glass founded Glassnote Records in 2007. The label holds dual citizenship in both the US and the UK. While the label generally focuses on variations of the rock genre, Childish Gambino's 2011 album "Camp" made history being their first hip-hop release. Glassnote houses Mumford and Sons, the Temper Trap and Two Door Cinema Club and was labeled "Best Indie Label" from Rolling Stone.

Play it while: On a essay writers quest to strike it rich in Las Vegas.

Awards and accolades: Phoenix's effort "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix" received RIAA Gold status on September 10, 2010 and won the Grammy for "Best Alternative Music Album" earlier that year. If that wasn't enough, the singles "1901" and "Lisztomania" earned Gold status in 2010 and 2012 respectively. The new single "Entertainment" peaked 11 on "Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks" and slot 25 on "Billboard Rock Songs."

What the critics say: "This isn't the first time we've seen such a sharp deviation on a post-blowup album from an international synth-pop sweetheart in recent memory. A crude comparison can be made in the transition between 'Oracular Spectacular' and 'Congratulations' by MGMT, another group that's displayed both a readiness and reluctance to head a new pseudo-class of modern indie rock ambassadors to dance music circles. 'Bankrupt!' could end up the most anti-pop pop album of the year, which is exactly as confusing as the album sounds at times. But if the choice was between confusing or boring and safe, Phoenix made the right call." Steven Arroyo, Consequence of Sound.

KDHX coverage: In 2010, Jon Gitchoff blogged about Phoenix's dance party at the Pageant.

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