I had the good fortune of catching Woodhands in concert at the Halifax Pop Explosion this fall, headlining the Saturday night show. Turnout was mediocre, I assume because Sebastien Grainger was opening for Islands not far away at the same time. But: wow. Woodhands amazed me. Never have I seen such a high energy performance as that of Dan Werb. You might know him from Henri Fabergé and the Adorables.
Woodhands are a two-piece electronic outfit from Toronto by way of BC, with the same awesome nerditude of Werb's fellow Adorable Laura Barrett, who appears on the album. Heart Attack was released by Paper Bag Records this past spring, and I picked up a copy at the show after Dan and Paul absolutely blew my mind.
Their show was done live, Dan handling the synths, drum machines, drunken swearing--you know, all of the fun stuff--while Paul hit up the drums. That always makes me smile, a synth-based group who don't rely on samples and laptops for their live show. Honestly, fantastic, fantastic show.
The highlight of the album, for me, is not the universally praised Dancer, or even Laura's guest vocals on Sailboats, but a drawn-out, 8-bit sounding epic called Be Back Soon. It at first hit me with the building synth hook, but once the vocals and the song as a whole kicked off and the rhythm of the whole thing, the beat upon which it's all based-- The whole song just swims through you and you swim right along with it. The vocals are minimal and pumped through the synthesizer, and as such they just add as a part of the epic soundscape of synths and drum machine. The swimmy quality of the whole thing, the rhythm and measure, it all amounts to one thing for me, and I'll phrase it thusly: if you're looking for a soundtrack to break-up sex, this is it.
Of course, the slow-paced sex anthem that is Be Back Soon does not speak for the whole album. Heart Attack is possibly the most danceable album I've ever heard, start to finish. The live show reflects this, and you've probably heard this one by now, but just... this is the definition of a Woodhands show, this track here.
Nonstop listening pleasure, really. If you get a chance, pick up the album, or, even better, see these guys live. You will not be disappointed. They're in my running for best live show of the year. I might just do a top 5 rundown at the end of the month. We shall see!