Every so often, a truly remarkable band wanders onto the Detroit scene and captures the attention of the city for a moment, however fleeting that moment it may be.
Once such band is Phantom Cats, though sadly for music fans far and wide, they are no longer a band … well, almost.
Formed in 2010 as a collaboration between singer Liz Shar and guitarist Nick Landstrom, the band spent the next four years playing just about everywhere there is to play in Detroit, and in 2013 released a six song EP called “Ray of the Moon”.
Things seemed to be progressing well for the group until 2014, when they decided to go on hiatus. With lead Singer Liz Shar heading to graduate school in Washington, DC, the band was unable to continue.
However, in an effort to preserve what amounted to an entire album’s worth of unrecorded material that had been developed prior to their hiatus, the band decided to record a final album, the forthcoming “Swan Songs.”
After recording was complete, Landstrom, a self-employed music teacher and musician, had a finished project that he cherished but had run out of money and was unable to finish the record.
“I’m a self-employed music teacher and musician and there’s a lot of things that I need money for. I rely on my car for work, I am in dire need of equipment to move forward as an artist, and I still have to return to Wayne State in the winter to finish my bachelors,” he tells us.
Thus, in a final effort to help his most prized project see the light of day, Landstrom launched a crowdfunding campaign, which is seeking a relatively low funding goal of $600 – every penny of which he accounts for on the crowd funding page.
Landstrom says the campaign was launched somewhat regrettably, but that it will be worth the listener’s while.
“I could really only stomach asking people for money if I felt I would be giving them something back,” says Landstrom. “What I will be giving back is an album that I think provides a unique counterpoint to what we think of when we think of music from Detroit. And, since we aren’t a band anymore, the album will be made completely free to everyone so you’re doing everyone a service by donating in a sense.”
If you dug the video above, you’ll love what the rest of this outstanding album has to offer.
“The influences that went into the creation of this music are incredibly wide ranging. Over its forty or so minutes you will hear the influence everyone from Beethoven, Wagner, Stravinsky, Debussy and Ravel, to James Brown, Erykah Badu and J Dilla. From there you’ll hear the influence of Deerhoof, The Dirty Projectors and Bjork, among many others.”
Despite that impressive list, Nick states clearly that the album was not an effort to sound like any one thing. “To my knowledge, and at the risk of self-aggrandizing, there is and never was a band from Detroit that sounds like Phantom Cats.”
“These are art songs. There are some definite dance inducing grooves, there are moments of tender despair, fits of rage, and powerful joyful reconciliations of all of the above. The music is true to life. Real life. We recorded completely live. No click track, no overdubs, no studio magic. Just raw, fluid, continuous performances.”
In closing, Nick says, “Phantom Cats is no more, this is truly our Swan Song. I really don’t like asking for money, but I would be forever bummed if this music was never heard. And it deserves to be heard.”
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