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Heart Attack

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Album Review

Toronto's Woodhands mine similarly vigorous, often abrasive, electronic dance-punk territory to the likes of Austin's Ghostland Observatory and England's Does It Offend You, Yeah? (those are just among the more recently notable of an extensive, overcrowded lineage). Their main point of distinction being that they do it all non-digitally, with real drums, analog synths, keytars, and so forth, and reportedly recreate it all live (an impressive feat given that they're just a duo). You might not think that such a commitment to (frankly, pretty flimsy) 'authenticity' would count for very much when translated to disc, but Heart Attack does maintain a sort of unrelenting grubbiness (despite some very sharp, precise playing) which helps to evoke the breathless energy of a sweaty, uninhibited dance party. Plus, it's just relentless: save for the brief ambient break "Monsterdinosaur" (a waste of a decent title) and the halfway credible, if ironic, slow jam "Straighten the Curtain," the beats barely let up for an instant, even between songs, though they do grow somewhat more nuanced as the album progresses. The jokey "Dancer" will grab attention with its insistent crunch and the absurd interplay between guest vocalist Maylee Todd's cooed verses and Dan Werb's manic, aggressive ranting (the hook, in case you can't decipher it: "You're a very good dancer!/What is your name?/What is your name?"), while "I Can't See Straight" is deliciously menacing with its strobed synths and stuttered breakdowns, but the really good stuff comes through in individual moments more than entire songs. Though there are synth riffs and processed vocal hooks sprinkled liberally throughout ("Under Attack" and "Be Back Soon" have a couple worth remembering), the ride is mostly worth it for the unexpected groove shifts and jammed variations that come toward the close of most tracks. "Sailboats," for instance, starts out as an electro-pop duet with labelmate Laura Barrett (it sounds roughly like a less memorable Postal Service). Halfway through, the track gives way to a full-on drum solo, and then a stripped down 4/4 throb, which gradually builds through layers of synth loops into a swirling, hyperactive groove that ends the album on a high note. As party music — and there's little pretense that this is anything else — it's perfectly serviceable stuff, and more inspired than plenty of the recent output in this vein. ~ K. Ross Hoffman, Rovi


Formed: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s

Woodhands are an analog-fashioned electro-pop group with a penchant for tongue-in-cheek decadence. In addition to issuing studio recordings, the group tours and is known for its wild dance parties. The roots of Woodhands can be traced back to the basement of frontman Dan Werb's apartment in Montreal, where the group began as a recording project. Werb (vocals, synths, drum machines) has been joined off and on over the years by numerous musicians, most notably drummer Paul Banwatt. The group later...
Full Bio
Heart Attack, Woodhands
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  • $16.90
  • Genres: Electronic, Music
  • Released: 01 April 2008

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