Dropkick the Robot may be the most educated local band around, at least musically: All are graduates of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville's well-respected jazz program, and some are now music educators themselves. Don't presume anything about the quintet based on its academic background, however — especially since last year's self-produced Nice Try? EP is so hard to categorize. "Washed Up," for instance, begins with a gritty, computer-generated loop buildup (think Clinic or Radiohead's Kid A) and solemn vocals, before the full band slides seamlessly into a soulful Fender Rhodes–driven chorus. "Lockjaw Alibi" suddenly moves from peppy garage-rock to moody, Britpop-influenced tech-rock while "TMinus 47" settles in as a quietly introspective acoustic ballad. Thankfully, Dropkick the Robot's professional-caliber musicianship and exploratory arrangements hold its disjointed amalgam of influences together.
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