Daring debut album by These Machines Are Winning almost defies description
Defender 1 is the debut album of These Machines Are Winning, a local band starring Dylan Silver and Hightower (once known as Blake McWhorter), formerly of well-knowns such as [Daryl], The Crash That Took Me and Black Tie Dynasty. But Defender 1 is not the kind of record you want to break down track by track.
It’s best listened to as a whole, so you can let it kind of hang in the air as one long piece of music. Approached like that, the album is relaxing and imaginative.
The music proves challenging to describe using the words of mere mortals. So we will borrow a concept from the Granada Theater, which handles this dilemma brilliantly in its promotional materials. The ads read, “goes good with,” followed by the names of more familiar artists.
Defender 1 is best listened to as a whole, so you can let it kind of hang in the air as one long piece of music. Approached like that,the album is relaxing and imaginative.
For starters, These Machines Are Winning goes good with Polyphonic Spree.
But only in a certain uplifting sort of way. The Polyphonic Spree always seems to have its “sights for tomorrow” cast on the bright blue sky. In that sense, These Machines Are Winning does resemble the other Dallas-born band. There’s an echo of Depeche Mode and The Killers here too — but Polyphonic Spree is a better comparison, because the songs on Defender 1 are not dark or brooding. They’re brighter, more positive.
These Machines Are Winning also goes good with Flock of Seagulls. But it is not some copy band. Sure, there are elements reminiscent of Flock of Seagulls, including vaporous use of synthesizers and sci-fi-fast tempos. But These Machines Are Winning seems to be singing from some place far above the stratosphere, lending an element of escape to the listening experience.
The songs are futuristic, experimental and — this is a biggie — fearless. That is to say that a couple of the songs are pure atmospherics — just a sound, a hum. The record is mostly modern, uplifting synth pop. But, especially in today’s commerce-minded music-release climate, it’s pretty ballsy to relegate a couple of your album tracks to just warm noise (a more common occurrence in the less-uptight ’60s).
It’s warm, delicious noise, mind you — a foreign concept in our current world of 140-character attention spans. So good for these guys for working with a label that gets it and for taking a chance that some people still pay attention when listening to music.
Accompanying the music is an important visual element in the form of, well, not music videos, really, but shorts — a taste of which you can get in the video clip above. These visual elements are so important that one band member, Ryan Hartsell, is devoted solely to this side of the music.
It’s also worth noting that the Granada has not used the aforementioned tactic to promote this particular band; These Machines Are Winning’s pre-release party is February 9 at the Double Wide. But props to Mike Schoder and team for helping us get over the descriptive hump.
Defender 1 comes out February 12, adorned with exceptional cover art by UK graphic novel/movie concept artist Jock, whose credits include The Losers, Batman Begins and Man of Steel. Get a closer look here.