Plenty of musicians have taken a shot at electronic music. Artists like Bob Mould and Conor Oberst have dedicated whole albums to the endeavor, while others, like Pedro The Lion’s David Banzan and Ben Gibbard, have created whole new projects as a result of the pursuit. So you might be asking yourself, who’s next? How about Johnny Whitney and Mark Gajadhar of the Blood Brothers.
On Neon Blonde’s debut EP Headlines, Whitney and Gajadhar take electronic music and twist it into something sick and new, much like the Blood Brothers do to hardcore. Each song seems grounded in familiar points but is soon uprooted by strange and violent interjections.
The EP opens with an almost Trent Reznor-like, industrial beat before Whitney’s signature whine and a creepy organ kick in. “Headlines” could almost pass as a more stripped down song from Crimes as Whitney quickly runs through his numerous vocal personalities. He will scream, taunt, threaten, and sass you before the song is over. Just when it seems like the song has no more surprises, horns kick in that sound like a mix between Radiohead’s “The National Anthem” and free-form jazz.
“Barbados Nights” comes next with its Casio programmed beat that is filled with handclaps and maraca shakes. The song’s synths and guitars are faded into the background and sound like an 80's pop hit from an alternate dimension. Whitney’s vocals are distorted and delayed, making his already insidious voice even more abrasive and dangerous.
The EP than takes a drastic turn in sound for “Savannah Nights.” Here the band is suddenly more freak folk than dancey, scream-filled electronica. The augmented acoustic guitars and bits of ambient noise play out like something from a Neutral Milk Hotel song while Whitney’s layered vocals sound like a mix between David Bowie and a mental patient ranting from the corner of a padded cell.
A remix of “Headlines” by Jay Clark closes out the release. The opener suddenly becomes a more hip-hop-flavored closer, thanks to a speedy hi-hat heavy beat. Clark also takes the horns from the end of the track and samples them throughout, and adds more layers of sound by cutting noises and new instrumentation in and out.
While the songs on the EP are great pieces of music made up of interesting compositions, the short running length and fact that one of the four songs is a remix of another detract from the release a bit. Still, it seems like this EP is not really meant to stand on its own, but merely serve as a preview for the band’s upcoming full-length.