Computer Vs. Banjo: Computer vs. Banjo

King Kong vs. Godzilla, Alien vs. Predator, Freddy vs. Jason. These are the eternal battles that have captured the imagination of the American public. Now you can add Computer vs. Banjo to that list of epic duels. The computer half of this musical duel is Johnny Mann of the little-heard Nashville funk band Gran Torino. The banjo is represented by Beau Stapleton, formerly of the slightly successful southern jam band Blue Merle. To be honest though, there isn’t much in the way of “vs” on the duo’s self-titled debut. Much of the album is simply a low-fi electronic album, songs like “Low” and “Outer Space” have nary a country influence in them. On the flip side, country ballads “San Joaquin” and “2Heavy2Hold” don’t have much a computer presence to them. When the two do team up, the result is more like a Grandaddy album than something that you would expect from a name like Computer Vs. Banjo. Where’s the 21st century version of “Dueling Banjos”? What about a hardcore rave anthem with some line dancing influence thrown in for good measure? This is a good album, but there’s a lot of untapped potential here. Hopefully Mann and Stapleton will really embrace their novel concept on their next album and truly give us a battle between the technological majesty of electronic music and the down-home charm of classic country. (Diagram 2008)

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