Woodhands: Heart Attack

Woodhands: Heart Attack (Paper Bag)

Woodhands is a synthesized electro-rock duo, but unlike many of its contemporaries, the members actually play instruments onstage instead of hiding behind laptops. Dan Werb sings and plays synths and a keytar, and Paul Banwatt supplies the beats the old-fashioned way — you know, on a real-life drum kit.

Woodhands’ debut, Heart Attack, sets it further above the fray by being well paced and enjoyable as a whole. It’s a thoughtful, smartly blended album, not just a bunch of singles stacked on top of each other.

These are raw, nasty, addictive tracks — the soundtrack for a dance party in someone’s dingy, unfinished basement. Opener “Dancer” is a party starter, to be sure, with airy female vocals and a rousing beat; a minute in, however, a jarring punk shout emerges and the two voices alternate. In lesser hands, the juxtaposition might sound abrasive or unnecessary; on “Dancer,” it sounds both necessary and downright brilliant.

Banwatt’s drumming is the star of the show here. He’s incredibly fast behind the kit (“Breaking Up”), and the syncopation he employs is unusual without distracting from the danceability of the songs (“Be Back Soon”).

And somehow, the band manages to make tactful use of a keytar and vocoder effects throughout, which is no small feat. Heart Attack is cold and inviting, sexy and nerdy, and the assured arrival of a new player on the electro-pop scene.

– David Hudnall

Woodhands: www.woodhands.com
Paper Bag: www.paperbagrecords.com

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