Computer vs. Banjo, self-titled

Don’t for a second think that Computer vs. Banjo is some cleverly cryptic or ambiguously pretentious name meant to keep fans and listeners guessing. Computer vs. Banjo is exactly what the name implies: an ambient blending of electronica and folk sounds from jazz man Johnny Mann and roots musician Beau Stapleton.

The duo’s self-titled debut album, out on Diagram Records June 17th, finds a grand opening in “Jubilee,” an ambient track rich in electronic noise, piano and sporadic electronically distorted yet folky vocals. The song is epically long yet remains interesting throughout its five minutes and forty-nine seconds.

A synth assault follows on “Guitars Need a Sinner’s Touch” in a smooth track with a great percussive beat and wonderful production value that is displayed throughout the entire disc. Single “Give Up on Ghosts” (download) begins with an eerie whine that picks up into hand clap beat behind fuzzy vocals. “Give Up on Ghosts” is heavy and dark but manages to be catchy and full of hooks in its chorus: “Giving up on the ghosts that haunt me still / Wreckin’ every belief, takin’ every thrill.”

The album’s most experiment track is “Outer Space,” featuring an array of warped outer space sound effects (bleeps and blips) and a great deal of echo. A low piano melody and minimal percussion are overpowered by raw vocals. It’s “Outer Space” that assures Computer vs. Banjo is nothing but unique in a creatively deadened music scene and will turn the pair into a household name.

The folkiest of the record’s tracks is “San Joaquin.” It begins with an intro on the banjo and retains a sound that conjures notions of wide open spaces and the great outdoors. Picture “San Joaquin” in either a Western film or part of the last century’s great folk revival with a mellower attitude. Electronica comes roaring back in “Magazine Queen” with sound bouncing back and forth between each speaker, warping, static, white noise, excellent synth part and pop harmonies.

Muse and Radiohead influences are betrayed on “Stone” along with a surprising Latin influence denoted by a trilled guitar riff while “Lost” gives nod to the likes of Athlete and a more classical indie rock sound. Much of Computer vs. Banjo is lost in a heavy ambiance surrounded by electronic sound effects rich with distortion and warping, all working in Computer vs. Banjo’s favor. Mann and Stapleton have created something truly extraordinary in Computer vs. Banjo’s unique sound, making them Nashville’s next big thing.

Pick up a copy of Computer vs. Banjo on Diagram Records, out June 17th.

01. Jubilee
02. Guitars need a Sinner’s Touch
03. Give Up on Ghosts (download)
04. Outer space
05. Low
06. San Joaquin
07. Magazine Queen
08. Stone
09. 2heavy2hold
10. Concealed
11. Lost
12. Signs of Passing Time

Computer vs. Banjo: website | myspace | download “Give Up on Ghosts” | order Computer vs. Banjo
Diagram Records: website | myspace


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