Phantom Handshakes is a lo-fi, dream pop collaboration between Federica Tassano (Sooner, Mônetre) and Matt Sklar (Exiles) based in Brooklyn, NY. They had a mini album out in 2020, Be Estranged, a collection of 7 tracks ranging from jangly indie pop to shoegazey post-punk recorded at home during April and May of 2020 (mastered by Carl Saff at Saff Mastering in Chicago) and their upcoming full-length, No More Summer Songs, will be out tomorrow, April 30th on Z Tapes. The whole new album was created in true DIY fashion by the duo from their respective homes in Brooklyn and Manhattan from August until November 2020. No More Summer Songs has been previously introduced by a pair of tracks of shimmering lo-fi dreampop, Cricket Song and No Better Plan.
What Matt Says: “Phantom Handshakes started almost exactly a year ago. Federica and I both play in live bands around New York City and when the lockdown started and live music went on hold we met online and started writing and recording songs together from our separate homes. Some of the live bands we play in can be loud shoegaze, math-y post-punk bands so we wanted to set this project apart and embrace the intimacy of simple, lo-fi pop songs. We also had the added freedom to write and record these songs without worrying about how to arrange them for a full live band. For our latest single, “Skin”, I recorded a minimal backing track and shared it with Federica and once she added her vocals and some instrumental overdubs the song felt finished to us. There’s a space and spareness to the song that we didn’t want to clutter with extra instrumentation. We wanted to let the song breathe.
Diana Ross & The Supremes – Reflections
One of the best pop songs ever. There’s a triumphant, uplifting quality to the music that’s balanced out by the melancholy vocal performance. For me it’s that balance that makes the best pop songs. Also this song has perhaps the greatest bass line of all time.
Broadcast – Come On Let’s Go
Another all time favorite that has a great pop sound balanced with Trish Keenan’s incredible, monotone vocals. This song usually finds it’s way on any mixtape or playlist I make, especially if it’s for a road trip.
Vivienne Eastwood – Arteries
This song is from Vivienne Eastwood’s recent EP, Home Movies. They’re a great Brooklyn shoegaze band but as the album title suggests their last release was more of a solo, home-recorded bedroom pop album. Even though it came out a couple of months before the pandemic it feels like a ‘quarantine album’ to me. This EP and the recent Kevin Hairs EP were really influential for me when I started recording the Phantom Handshakes tracks.
Lunarette – Austin St.
Lunarette is a new dream pop band from Brooklyn that just released their debut EP and it’s really wonderful. They were one of the last bands I got to see live before the lockdown last year so I’m thankful for that. They’re able to blend all these elements of synthpop, sophisti-pop and shoegaze to create a warm vibe.
The Cure- A Forest
This is my favorite song by The Cure and one of my favorite songs in general. I love the gothic atmosphere accompanied by a pressing, fast rhythm that makes me want to dance with my eyes closed and get lost in a forest.
Fever Ray – Keep the Streets Empty For Me
Dark and intimate, this song is the perfect soundtrack for a sad rainy day.
Karin Dreijer (Fever Ray/the knife/ Honey is cool) has always been a source of great inspiration for me. I love their voice and how it can be powerful, soft and cold, all at the same time.
White Flowers- Blue May
White flowers is a brand new English band I discovered recently. With hints to bands such as Cocteau Twins, Slowdive and Lush, they create a dreamlike, beautiful sound. Right up my alley!
Grouper- Quiet Eyes
Atmospheric music is a constant for me: when I need some calm and quiet I just listen to it. In particular, Liz Harris’ murmurs and sounds are magical and have some sort of healing properties.