Wednesday, April 16, 2008

M is for an upside-down W

In addition to flipping the script from 'M' to 'W,' I'm also abandoning my alphabetical posting project and henceforth all the Ear To The Sound posts will be whatever floats my boat with no concern for following a straightforward path. Making it to 'L' was a feat unto itself and I was this close to halfway through the alphabet which was decent for something I decided to do on a whim.

My abandonment of alphabetized posts isn't happening on a whim, but there's a touch of caprice to my selection for this post: I managed to catch Woodhands performance at the LO Pub last night (their second Winnipeg appearance in just over a week), and while I've enjoyed their album Heart Attack with its catchy keys and pulsing rhythms, after seeing this dynamic duo live I'm completely won over. Usually when I go to a show I'm a 'hands in my pockets, head-bobbing at most' kind of guy but Woodhands actually got me dancing.

According to multi-instrumentalist Dan Werb and drummer Paul Banwatt, that's exactly the response they're looking for:
"woodhands is dirty electronic music. we are interested in emotional, sweaty dance floors. we want to make you cry while you're having sex. and it'll be the best damn sex of your life. and you'll be dancing."

Alternating between playing key-tar and what looks like an oscilloscope (some sort of loop machine/synth), Werb wrings soul and sweat out of instruments that typically produce cold, sterile sounds. Where Kraftwerk used synths to create music that Deep Blue would add to its iPod, Woodhands are channeling Rick James to craft nooky-music for Droids. "Can't See Straight" could function as the soundtrack to C-3P0 picking up at a robot-gay-bar with Werb singing "why can't I/speak to you/I want to come home/I want to come home," voicing the droid's inner monologue. The freak-out at the 3 minute mark is clearly when he convinces the other robot to go home with him.

The interplay between Werb and Banwatt is part of what makes Heart Attack a success - Banwatt's drumming perfectly matches the programmed beats Werb employs and the pair trade vocals smoothly and to great effect, with Werb alternating between smooth croon and strangled screaming while Banwatt favours a direct delivery and some decent MC chops.

I couldn't find an mp3 to link to directly, but at Hype Machine, they've got a few tracks to listen to including the incredibly catchy "Dancer" and the Woodhands Myspace page is streaming pretty much the entire album.

As a bonus though, I managed to make a video of part of the Woodhands performance at the LO, and while it's a bit dark, the audio is fine and proved to be a very interesting cover of "California Love."

Thanks for reading, now start listening...

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