Nic Harcourt’s Best New Music: Nikki & The Phantom Callers; Karaoke


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It’s Friday, which means it’s time for Spark’s music expert and legendary L.A. radio DJ Nic Harcourt to weigh in on what new music he’s got on repeat at the moment. Below, he shares his newest picks added to his Spark Radio playlist and shares a spotlight on his favorite earworm of the week.

New to Spark Radio:
Ro Malone: Drinking Of You
Karaoke: Lo Hi
Nikki & the Phantom Callers
Simon Grossman: Claudia
Young Creatures: With Eyes Too Blind To See
Art d’Ecco: Desires
Making Movies: La Marcha
Greg In Good Company: Just A Sunset
Yola: Stand For Myself
Sofi Tucker, Amadou & Mariam: Mon Cheri

Hi friends, my apologies for not posting last week. I was in Atlanta for a few days recording an interview with Ludacris and live sessions with three amazing independent ATL artists that will play as part of Fintech South 2021, a virtual summit that takes place June 22-24.

From the 1920s through 1950s Atlanta was a major center for country music and more recently Is considered to be a capital of hip-hop, R&B and its offshoot neo-soul, and of gospel music – in addition to a thriving indie-rock and live music scene. I wanted the artists we picked to record to represent at least part of that spread and so we filmed sessions with poet/rapper Adán Bean, Southern Gothic rock n’ roll outfit Nikki & the Phantom Callers, and indie art-pop band Karaoke. Each and every performer on stage at City Winery’s Atlanta location delivered mesmerizing sets and I wanted to spotlight them on this week’s playlist adds. 

Adán Bean is an incredible stor teller and currently recording new material which we’ll bring to you on this page when it’s released.

Nikki & the Phantom Callers frontwoman Nikki Speake grew up in rural Alabama before moving to Atlanta and brings a specific southern grit to her lyrics and performance. “Prodigal Daughter” musically pulls from garage rock, honky-tonk and ’60s country-pop as Nikki takes on the traditional prodigal son story and flips it to a feminine perspective. In an interview with Pop Matters , Speake said that the lyrics “developed into a call and response song between a mother and a daughter, with the mother full of worry and grief over a rambling daughter. I had a pretty strict Southern Baptist upbringing, going to church three times a week for most of my youth, and I still have all of those biblical stories twisting around in my head.” The song is from the album Everybody’s Going to Hell (But You and Me.)

Karaoke are an indie five-piece comprised of Grace Bellury (guitar/vocals), Tymb Gratz (guitar), Chris Yonker (bass), Zach Pyles (keys/synths), Adrian Benedykt Switon (drums). The track I added to this weeks playlist “Lo Hi” is from their most recent album Blood, Piss, Religion, Pain released digitally and on cassette from their Bandcamp page.  The group’s members clearly bring multiple aesthetics to the music, and the album reflects that with an eclectic grouping of songs that range from dream-pop soundscapes to more avant-garde pieces full of jagged guitars, skittering beats, and samples. “Lo Hi” is probably the one song on the album that pulls all these ideas together into something that begins with Bellury sounding like Cocteau Twin’s Elizabeth Frazier rummaging through Tom Waits’ sonic workshop of marimbas and bells into the opening lyrics, “That smoldering smirk on your face needs to be wiped clean/ with a steady hand/  Somebody strong enough to shoulder the weight of your stare/ somebody with withering eyes to match” before layers of. fuzzed out and stabbing guitars kick in over beats and the repeated “Low High” chorus that drives the song towards a breathless finish.