Monday, June 30, 2008
One of the most surprising and adventurous albums of the year is out now courtesy of a Nashville act called Computer Vs. Banjo. The group, a duo consisting of Beau Stapleton (formerly of Blue Merle) and Johnny Mann (Gran Torino's inventive guitar player), is an odd and invigorating mixture of electronics and cosmic folk that sounds like nothing else out there right now.
Opening up with a meditative and lovely keyboard instrumental reminiscent of some of David Holmes work, Computer Vs. Banjo's first full length LP kicks off with the gloriously off the wall "Jubilee", a song asking to "keep your enemies near" while delivering some of the most exuberantly American music I have heard in a long time.
Stylistic similarities to everyone from The Flying Burrito Brothers to Pere Ubu to the more recent Arcade Fire pop up through the album, but Computer Vs. Banjo manage to sound defiantly individualistic throughout the 12 tracks on offer here.
Highlights of the record include the quirky but melodic "Outerspace" and the beautiful "Low", a track that owes more than a little to the David Bowie album as well the underrated Minnesota act who mined similar ground in the mid nineties.
The album works best in its further out electronic moments and only falters slightly in the more traditional sounding numbers like "San Joaquin". Still, minor quibbles aside, Computer Vs. Banjo's first LP is a resounding success and fits in nicely in a year that has been marked by albums celebrating the outskirts of traditional sounds ranging from Portishead's astonishing Third to Goldfrapp's marvelous Seventh Tree.
More information on Computer Vs. Banjo can be read at their official site and at their MySpace.