Greg Clow, Grooves, May 1, 2003

After a couple of years of building up an impressive catalog of MP3 and CD-R releases, Todd Drootin of Books on Tape has really pulled out the stops for his first official full-length album. Recording live in the studio to 24-track tape using a set-up based almost exclusively around oid school sound gear, and inviting in a slew of guests including Kerri Kirchheimer on drums and his sister Stefanie Drootin of Bright Eyes on keyboard and vocals, Drootin has put together an exciting and dynamic set that wonderfully meshes his punk and indie-rock roots with his current proclivities for knob twiddling and key pressing.

The material on Throw Down Your Laptops sounds unlike pretty much any other record I’ve heard in quite some time, which is an achievement in a genre that is strewn with so many sound-alikes. Drootin throws down a strong base of thick electro melodies and beefy beats that range from downtempo cool to a jackhammer frenzy. These elements are often left alone to happily co-mingle, but Drootin is also generous with his guests, allowing them to have a strong influence, especially on tracks like The Contenders, a short but sweet collaboration with electro-noise-rock trio Rose For Bohdan. So while Throw Down Your Laptops may not be a record that will change your life, you can at least be guaranteed that it won’t sound like anything else in your collection, and when it comes to today’s electronic music scene, that’s really saying something.

… it won’t sound like anything else in your collection…

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