“I just roll up with a laptop and a midi controller and ‘select’ tracks n hit a spacebar,” wrote Deadmau5 in a recent blog post revealing the “secrets” of live electronic dance music. It’s essentially something anyone could do if given a computer, a stage, and the adoration of millions of partiers. Such is not the case with Canadian six-piece Shout Out Out Out Out, which has a bassist for every “Out” in its name, two drummers, a mountain of synthesizers, and a reputation for putting on one badass electronica show.
Spanish Moss and Total Loss is the group’s third album, and as frontman Nik Kozub said, it’s a “natural progression” from 2006’s Not Saying/Just Saying and 2009’s Reintegration Time. The band has polished their sound while expanding beyond their already large set of instruments to include a piano, baritone guitar, saxophone, and even more synths. The record, as the above suggests, sounds denser than their previous efforts; the piano bolsters a buoyant background on album opener “Now That I’ve Given Up Hope, I Feel Much Better”. Elsewhere, “Wayward Satellite” is reminiscent of “Another One Bites the Dust” in both tempo and tone, and the tribal beginning and synth-heavy beats of “Spanish Moss” yield surprise and intrigue.
Although these gems crop up on the album’s nine tracks, as a whole, it would’ve benefit from more of the diversity that gives those songs their shine. Too much of the same synth sounds and Kozub’s too-hazy vocals (sung into an old analog vocoder that makes the melancholy lyrical content impossible to understand) leave the album lacking a certain spark. The pleasantly melodic tone of the disc does make this an ideal addition to the dedicated electronica fan’s collection, as the record’s subdued sound might make it the EDM for your earbuds while going to the grocery store or the post office. This is something synth-heavy, every night able to become Saturday night. For those who only dabble in the genre, though, this group of ambitious Canadians might be best on-stage.
Essential Tracks: “Now That I’ve Given Up Hope, I Feel Much Better”