The ExMonkeys' Use Your Tools | Record Review | Indy Week
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The ExMonkeys' Use Your Tools 

Any study in electro-punk almost inherently includes talk of big beat. A '90s-born subset of electronica, the latter communicates a slick but aggressive action-hero immediacy; think of The Matrix soundtrack, particularly that memorable Propellerheads track. Like that film's other dominant characteristic—bullet time—big beat turned the gee-whiz factor of computer-bent reality into something psychedelic. To wit, this relentless, electro-percussive style mixes nicely with noisy, distorted guitars.

The ExMonkeys' latest, Use Your Tools, is built with this urgent aesthetic in mind, so it comes out quick and dirty like a rock 'n' roll record. The 37-minute album is more Chemical Brothers than Dust Brothers, though DJ Ed Winstead and MC Ian Shannon reflect both the low-end physicality of the former and the broad pallete of the latter. Some tunes are named like party shouts ("Up and Get It") and some lean in a decidedly rave-punk direction (the robo-voiced "Mr. Technology").

Though it doesn't break the two-minute mark, "Morning" is the most compelling track here, with a set of conflicting breakbeats and fuzzed-to-death guitar drops set within an oddly airy framework that hints at Squarepusher. The ExMonkeys are full of such surprises: On "Up and Get It," Winstead battle-scratches against bouncing synth bass, and "Strawberry" brings cacophonic, digitalized guitar noise to pummeling production that flirts with staccato industrial hits. The guitar-heavy "On the Mark" implies a tougher take of The Crystal Method's "Trip Like I Do." Yes, this is bass worth thumping.

While there's no substitute for a high-volume live set, ExMonkeys' percussive physicality translates nicely to headphones and car stereos. And with Winstead now an ex-ExMonkey, it will probably be months before MC Shannon breaks out a solo live set. Until then, the body rock is strong on Use Your Tools.

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Where is the Q and A with Pepper?

by Alex Marsh on Record Review: Hardcore Titans Corrosion of Conformity Bring Pepper Keenan Back Into the Fold (Record Review)

There's bass in this. It's not a duo, at least in the recordings. …

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Where is the Q and A with Pepper?

by Alex Marsh on Record Review: Hardcore Titans Corrosion of Conformity Bring Pepper Keenan Back Into the Fold (Record Review)

There's bass in this. It's not a duo, at least in the recordings. …

by Steve Grothmann on Record Review: Raleigh's Naked Naps Explore Urgency on Year of the Chump (Record Review)

Remember that time the "journalist" took to the comments section to fire off a snarky response when called out on …

by JayDubz on Record Review: Raleigh's Naked Naps Explore Urgency on Year of the Chump (Record Review)

Pretty sure that if the press release we received had mentioned Chris Grubbs, the article would have reflected that crucial …

by David Klein on Record Review: Raleigh's Naked Naps Explore Urgency on Year of the Chump (Record Review)

Pretty sure John Meier hasn't been in this band for quite some time and Chris Grubbs wrote and recorded this …

by JayDubz on Record Review: Raleigh's Naked Naps Explore Urgency on Year of the Chump (Record Review)

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