Digital Leather

Warm Brother

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Shawn Foree, the artist also known as Digital Leather, is one of a growing number of acts whose heart is in punk rock but whose head is buried in a bundle of cheap circuitry. Warm Brother, Digital Leather's fourth album, musically fits somewhere between primitive garage rock and hooky old-school punk, but instead of guitars, Foree and his partners pour out their musical ideas through a bunch of vintage synthesizers, letting the analog wheezes and blurts add a texture to these tunes that's modern and retro at the same time. Foree's melodic influences mostly date from the 1970s, and so does his choice of instruments -- you can hear flashes of vintage synth pop acts in this music, ranging from the cool, metallic surfaces of Gary Numan and the minimal lockstep of the Normal to the playful goofiness of Trio and even a dash of the pop-leaning gloss of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, though the production is lean enough to strip any excess pretension from the final results. Keyboards easily dominate these recordings, but Foree has added just enough minimal guitar accents to add a touch of fire to the naturally chilly ambience of the synthesizers, and beneath the artificial buzz of the instruments, Foree invests Warm Brother with a crackpot humanity through his surreal but organic lyrical constructs (especially on "My Fame" and "Bugs on Glue") and the periodic descent into chaotic but expressive noise. And unlike so many acts that dote on vintage synth sounds, Digital Leather aren't going out of their way to make this stuff dance-friendly, though you can leap about to it if you're in a mood; this ain't no disco, and while he may be fooling around, Foree isn't joking, and Warm Brother is compelling, often bracing stuff.

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