Free and legal MP3: The Robots (gripping, driving 21st-century rock)

“I Didn’t Know What I Was Saying,” from the Prince Edward Island quartet the Robots, performs the unusual 21st-century trick of sounding influenced by Radiohead without sounding slavishly hypnotized. I don’t think we’ve heard enough of this sort of thing, actually—bands recognizing Radiohead’s seminal power while spinning the vibe into something very much their own.

Hey Buddy Dummy

“I Didn’t Know What I Was Saying” – the Robots

With the year-end easing off of new releases comes the intermittent Fingertips tradition of revisiting my folder of songs that were seriously considered for review earlier in the year, to see what I might have unaccountably overlooked—heard at the time but didn’t really hear. There are always one or two goodies in there that are well worth (re)discovery.

For instance: “I Didn’t Know What I Was Saying,” from the Prince Edward Island quartet the Robots, which performs the unusual 21st-century trick of sounding influenced by Radiohead without sounding slavishly hypnotized. I don’t think we’ve heard enough of this sort of thing, actually—bands recognizing Radiohead’s seminal power while spinning the vibe into something different and worthy. Bands did this with the Beatles all the time (and still do). Not everyone gets to invent the wheel; we need folks who can work on the chassis and the engine as well. Here, the Robots take Kid A-ish intensity but reapply guitars: searing and itchy lead lines, dark and jumpy rhythm lines, rumbly background washes. Actual keyboards—not just synthesizers—enter the fray as well. The song’s disciplined vehemence is epitomized by its very structure, which places the semi-undiscernible verses all together in the first two-thirds of the song, followed by a chorus section of marvelous power; there, front man Peter Rankin lets a bit of his inner Thom Yorke out of the bag, while the churning background swells with an almost orchestral grandeur. As for that last 40 seconds, with its foghorn guitar and thrummy white noise, not sure if it’s necessary but it’s actually pretty interesting.

The Robots come from Charlottetown and released their debut full-length, Hey Buddy, Dummy, back in April on Halifax-based Night Danger Records.

4 thoughts on “Free and legal MP3: The Robots (gripping, driving 21st-century rock)”

  1. There is one straight cop from Radiohead – the higher-pitched guitar in the left channel has the exact same effect applied to it as the lead guitar on “Airbag” – the song that opens Radiohead’s OK Computer. It seems to obvious to be a coincidence.

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    1. You say “cop,” I say “homage.” I don’t mind Beatlesque music and I don’t mind Radioheadesque music. Beatlesque tunes sometimes include direct quotations (e.g. “Start!” by the Jam, one of a zillion examples)– “cops,” if you will– and this is no problem in my musical world. Others may take issue. That’s what makes the world go around.

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  2. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t saying it’s a bad thing, just noting. If I meant it derogatorily, I would have said “steals” or “apes”.

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