Computer vs. Banjo - Computer vs. Banjo
Record Label: Diagram Records
Release Date: June 11, 2008
Although they toy around with 80’s tones and effects, you can’t group Computer Vs. Banjo with the Interpol-lite breed of retro cash-ins. No, these guys belong to the more innovative side of indie rock, which strives to be as unique as it is catchy. For one thing, you won’t even be done with the first song before you hear the mesh of computerized beats and banjo plucking. It’s just like with that band Drums & Tuba, where you realize that "OH! They’re called that for a reason!"
These are all essentially pop songs, but each comes with its own stand-out piece of weirdness. Whether it’s the punchy synth-bass of “Guitars Need a Sinner’s Touch” (which seems like it wants to blind you with science) or the Morphine-bred slide riff of “Give up on Ghosts,” the group’s experimental drive bubbles to the top of the mix again and again.
Computer Vs. Banjo should be 100% destined for the airwaves, even if they seem like they’ve got a little bit too much musical ambition for that. The best way to sum up this disc is, if you ever wanted to show your mom and pop what it is that you listen to, you should probably choose something like this (even if you are lying). Because if there were ever a band who united easy-listening adult contemporary (your mom’s music) with more acquired taste programming music (your music) and they weren’t called The Beta Band, it’s these guys. The dual sides of their nature make for at least one interesting listen, whether or not the style is your cup of tea.
My number one complaint with the album is that I know Computer Vs. Banjo would reach their fullest potential if they dropped the pop vibe a tad bit. Their style is abstract enough that some less-than-accessible tunes would better suit them - not that any of these songs is something to complain about individually, but I digress. They should play up the schizophrenic vibe that their name implies as far as it can go. Optimally, Mike Patton will hear this album and make a phone call or two - or just walk into the studio (who knows how he does things).
But as it is, Computer Vs. Banjo is a feel-good rocker that should please any and all pop-indie tweeners because it’s catchy and heartfelt beyond what you’d expect from a band with such a bizarre name. For a date soundtrack or a universally comfortable piece of music to play in the background at work, you can’t go wrong. But for something a little bit deeper, maybe try listening to the group these guys were no doubt playing in the studio during recording: The Beta Band.