Shout Out Out Out Out: Dumb Name, Album of the Year
|Album art compliments of the 1973 French sci-fi film Fantastic Planet|
It's just barely March and I already have a solid pick for my favorite album of the year. Animal Collective gave us Merriweather Post Pavilion and I fawned over it. It's a solid offering, scaling back the Baltimore act's weirdness to produce some very catchy tunes. But I got a tip a few weeks ago to check out Edmonton punk/electro group Shout Out Out Out Out. They are insanely unique and rather odd, employing four bass players, two drummers, and plenty of synthesizers. What comes forth is a funky, Canadian take on dance-punk. The band is known for its legendary live shows. But pay no mind to how they actually do it, because Shout Out Out Out Out's sound is bigger and funkier than anything I've heard all year. Reintegration Time, their second LP, is, hands down, my favorite album of 2009.
Canadian music can be a fickle beast, especially when it isn't out of Toronto or Montreal. The fact that Shout Out Out Out Out is from Edmonton makes their music all the more incredible, because Toronto or Montreal usually claim all the relevant Canadian talent (Arcade Fire, Chromeo, Fucked Up, Broken Social Scene, Metric, Stars). Whatever it is, the members of Shout Out Out Out Out can channel into their music from their chilly Edmo (as the kids call it) confines is okay by me. Their sound is a mix between eight-minute prog-rock freakout jams, aborted !!! songs and vocoder-heavy indie rock (yes, someone outside of hip-hop finally found a tolerable way to use the vocoder). Whatever it is got into these white dudes' heads, I'm buying it. They have got me to throw away my conventions when it comes to praising a band for making such enjoyable music. I am usually not one for a song over 5-6 minutes, especially if that song is instrumental. But Shout Out Out Out Out (I hate typing their name as much as you hate reading it) has other ideas for what convention should be. Their songs range from no shorter than 5 and a half minutes to over 10 minutes long - and I love every minute of it. Having two drummers is a gimmick usually reserved for a shitty industrial bands, but Shout Out Out Out Out rely on this dual percussion to give their electro-punk its bite and unique grooves.
The band asks both Cadence Weapon and label mates San Serac to add some guest vocals to two of the better songs on the album ("Coming Home" and "One Plus Two Plus Three"). Edmo rapper Cadence Weapon may very well have the best part of the album when he starts howling the line "We do acid!" on the track "Coming Home," infusing the album with a dark, powerful energy that the previous three tracks failed to achieve. The song is overflowing with dancefloor ready grooves, which no doubt adds to the band's already mythical, legendary stage reputation. The latter half of the album continues on this journey on into "One Plus Two Plus Three," featuring the vocals of one-man disco outfit San Serac. The track's thumping bass is met with Serac's aching, desperate vocals about simple arithmetic, segueing on into the trippy, funked out synths provided by head honcho Nik Kozub. The eighth song on Reintegration Time, "Remind Me in Dark Times," is by far the best song on the album. It combines everything Shout Out Out Out Out does so very well into one 9-minute absolute club banger. The drums keep the time while bass layers pour all over the song, setting up creepy, eerie vocoder lyrics - all while battling staccato synths and even more slaptastic, funky bass, thrown in for damn good measure.
What more can I say about this album that hasn't already been done? I may be too far in the forest to see the trees, but I have no qualms about regarding Shout Out Out Out Out's effort as my favorite of 2009 thus far. It is still early, but it will take a hell of an effort to knock these Edmo dudes from the top of my list. They embody everything I normally despise in a band (dumb name, more than one drummer, vocoder, white dudes playing eight-minute long instrumental songs) but they manage to absolutely murder the effort on their sophomore album.
Reintegration Time is out now in Canada on NRMLS WLCM. It will be released in the U.S. on May 5.
Check out the songs "Bad Choices," "Guilt Trips Sink Ships," "Coming Home" and "In The End It's Your Friends" all from Reintegration Time at the band's MySpace.