Feature by Bailey Garno
What goes on in Baraboo, Wisconsin? Supposedly a whole ‘lotta nothing, says the overwhelmingly talented and gracious musicians, collectively known as PHOX. However, this dreamy pop group hails from the small town, and when you listen to PHOX, nobody can deny that some serious talent has indeed sprouted up amidst the fields in this Midwestern drive-by town. On June 24th, PHOX’s self-titled debut album was premiered over NPR’s “First Listen,” which is an impressive accomplishment in itself. But the praise that the group has received since makes this accomplishment something more. And you better believe that PHOX is worth all the hype.
The group of six lives together in nearby Madison, and it was when they moved in together that their music collaboration took off. Led by Monica Martin on vocals, PHOX puts an interesting twist to the pop sound. Martin has the vocal range of Regina Spektor, and seems to sing the craziest melodies without any effort. Her sound is soft and breathy, and Martin has the ability to just flip her voice in a way without warning. For someone who is supposedly shy and deals with considerable stage fright (listen to Martin and bandmate Matt Holmen’s interview with NPR here), Martin has no problem showing off her range.
Martin’s bouncy vocals match well with the fun, whimsical sound the group collectively creates. Earlier this year, “Slow Motion” was released, a song where listeners will catch a variety of eclectic instruments, including some whistling! Martin says that she wrote the song a cappella first, trying to grasp the sound of a song that might be sung by some kids playing double dutch. Indeed, the music video is equally playful and child-like, filled with plenty of balloons, bicycles, and costumes.
PHOX has wasted no time sharing their sound since the album release; in fact, the Wisconsin natives kicked off their extensive tour the day of its release! Titled “How We Escape Wisconsin Winters,” Martin and her gang of boys have a hefty list of stops to hit, many of which they are headlining. Additionally, the self-described “lethargic pop” team will be performing at multiple festivals, including the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island on July 25th. Take a look at the full tour list on the band’s official site, and find the album available for download now on iTunes!