Safe Effective & Fun
Electric Needle Room is Steven Beat on percussion and cowbell and Matt Beat on everything else. They are famously known as the first ever duo to play indie pop songs in a random street alley in Newton, Kansas. It indeed did all begin in Kansas- Augusta, Kansas to be exact. ENR had modest beginnings under the moniker of Feedback in 1995. Matt began recording songs at the ripe age of 14. Some of these songs are the worst known to mankind, but they eventually became better. Throughout high school and college, Matt went on to record more than 150 songs, some of them good, most of them bearable, but all of them primitively recorded on his parents' karaoke machine. His brother, Steven, assisted him on some songs with percussion (which Matt definitely needed help on) to add some organic flavoring to the songs. In early 2005, Matt invested in a multi-track recorder for his low-fi surprises. Thus, the songs began to sound better, and the songwriting had also gotten better since the early days. Steven joined the band full-time later that year to help Matt out with Beats. The brothers immediately decided they should not be living in the same city in order for the band to work, so Matt moved to Manhattan, KS and Steven to Kansas City. They currently split operations between Kansas City and Omaha. ENR's debut full-length album, 'My Socks Never Match,' mostly a solo effort by Matt due to his ego, was released in November 2005 and has already went multi-platinum in Antarctica. 2006 was full of collaboration between Steven and Matt and some random stuffed animals in Matt's in-laws' basement. The result was some shows at places like The Replay Lounge in Lawrence (providing music for a puppet show), Oleavers Pub in Omaha, and numerous coffee shops and beverage establishments in Omaha and Kansas. Matt also wrote a couple songs inspired by paintings in a 'contest' for a local museum in Omaha, and received much international recognition for his song 'You Make Me Feel Sunny' by some dudes in Italy that Matt bugged to be friends with on Myspace. The boys also found time to record their second album, entitled 'Trying to Escape the Bigotry,' a title Matt came up with after running into a few bigots here and there and everywhere, although not one song on the album even remotely mentions a bigot. Steven didn't care. He was just excited to try out is new multi-million-dollar electronic drum kit he had sold his soul for. It paid off- the new album sounded much more 'professionally' produced than the first one, with Steven contributing to all but one of the songs this time around (although he significantly contributed to the mastering of the album). The album was officially released on January 30th, 2007 to much disdain by the general hearing public. In the summer of 2007, the band had the great fortune of bassist/vocalist Bryan Poole joining the band. He made the band, how do you say...good? Thus, the live shows played throughout the year in support of 'Bigotry' began to sound bigger and better. In October, Electric Needle Room released an EP called 'Too Much Information Age,' a themed album about the media and it's strong influence on society. 2008 was another exciting year for the boys. They played two music festivals in Omaha, signed to Series Two Records, and began to get airplay on two local radio stations that no one listens to. Regardless, their fan base grew. In November, their third full-length, 'Safe, Effective, and Fun' was released on Series Two Records. Daniel Lewis Diedrich also joined the band to help out with guitar and vocals for live performances. Here's what people are saying about 'Safe, Effective, and Fun'... With the release of their 4th studio album, Electric Needle Room (brothers, Matt and Steven Beat) seem to be at the top of their game. Safe, Effective and Fun has a more evolved and focused sound than heard on previous records, adding more kooky keyboard and synth noise with 'techy' electro drum beats, somewhat recalling the midi-gamer aspect of The Faint and Crystal Castles (One Good Friend, Here's What I Have To Say About Tomatoes), combined with catchy, off-tuned guitar riffs and almost Beach Boys-esque vocal harmonies (Oleaver's Pub Won't Let Us Play There Anymore, We might As Well Live A Little Bit Before We Die). There is also a new-found, slightly more aggressive and sped-up delivery to the songs than in the past, which is much more reminiscent of their actual live presence. The songs were all recorded over the course of a year or more, between the brothers' homes in Nebraska and Kansas, and carefully picked to bring the listener into a whole new realm of sociopolitical-pop perfection. -Daniel Lewis Diedrich, Homer's Music On the beginning song; I was unsure of whether or not Electric Needle Room had made a good choice with the sit-com-esque piano. Persistent keys continually took turns at perforating my mental (non-adjective) block. The band is comprised of two brothers, making you envious that your brother is not an indie-pop alchemist. Vocalist Matt Beat's voice is similar to Ben Folds', except without the boring pseudo-emo element that makes you not like Ben Folds. Which really adds to, if not, makes for some very interesting tracks on this album, especially the love songs; that can easily slip under the radar. "One Good Friend" negatively prepped me for one of those fashionable synth and a high-hat bands, which get played in places that people go to. Yet, the steady degree of integrity maintained throughout the album, still shone through, rare quality now-uh-days. Bryan Poole plays bass on the 4th track, I found his inclusion to be somewhat complementary to Matt's fast vocals, not unbearably fast, more eloquent. Electric Needle Room appear to take on different faces throughout, ranging from all steps of the proverbial indie-pop ladder. Their flirting with the synth side of pop, is more of an experiment as opposed to album filler. -Joseph Tuesday, Even in the Future Nothing Works Omaha's Electric Needle Room has been compared to the legendary They Might Be Giants, and with good reason. Drawing influence from Sufjan Stevens, they just release and album filled with upbeat folk tunes called Safe, Effective and Fun. Released on Series Two Records in an edition of 300 copies, this album is a study in pop through the eyes of Matt Beat, Steven Beat, Bryan Poole, and Daniel Lewis Diedrich. It's a light romp that just might make you smile. -Jason, The Music Minute Ahh, what a fortuitous choice it was. At the time I wasn't really sure what to expect. I'm not sure when it happened. It was cold, possibly October or November 2008. I went to the Pizza Shoppe in Benson mostly to see one of my favorite bands The Black Squirrels, always a good time. They were opening for the Electric Needle Room's 'Safe, Effective, and Fun' CD release party. I paid a small cover charge and received a free CD (from a guy I think is in the band)! I have to admit that I have a mixed feeling about free CDs. If it's really worth listening too, shouldn't you have to pay something for it? On the other hand, it's free! Score! I ordered a pizza and a beer, enjoyed Spiders of Love and Black Squirrels. By the time ENR took the stage, I was feeling a little sleepy, and they started off with a song that seemed like it was about politics, so I bailed. (Oh, how I regret my hastiness now!) A few days later I put the CD in my stereo, and felt as if I'd received a much-needed, refreshing musical beverage from a cute girl. My first reaction was, 'Wow, these guys are different and fun.' No false advertising on this CD title. These guys pump out some smart, thought-provoking, insightful, catchy music! ENR has put together a well-crafted CD with consistently good lyrics, interesting instrumental sounds and fun melodies. Later I became their friends on MySpace. (Yeah, we're pretty tight) I read a review of the CD, and felt that it did not really delve deeply enough into the intriguing psyche of this bright, brave band of brothers and others. So, a week or so ago I decided I'd write my own review! The disc begins with 'Farther,' an enjoyable narrative about conflict and taunting. The energetic beat and skipping lyrics are engaging. The story of the many encounters with a nemesis offers something we can all relate to. It also reminds me of silly, junior high and high school-aged encounters with other people of that age and mentality (which I still, according to my wife Tree, retain). Next is the beautifully moving, surrealistic ballad/rock anthem 'Love is Not About Teeth.' A driving bass line and reverb-erating guitar solo add to this dream-inspired song of discovery. Track 3 is 'If it Makes You Feel Happy.' The catchy, staccato piano chords and bicycle-horn-like synthesizer sounds are standouts on this track. Tree said it reminds her of 'Kabluey'- a movie featuring a man dressed up as a large-headed, eye and earless blue biped. 'Midwestern City' is probably my favorite song on this CD. A true anthem for living in a midwestern city is something the rock/pop world has been without for far too long! Of course there are songs like Kiss's 'Detroit Rock City' and Counting Crows' 'Omaha.' But these songs don't seem to capture the true nature of midwest living as well as 'Midwestern City.' Plus the unforgettable chorus includes a list of seven midwestern cities, so it's alot more inclusive than the previously mentioned songs. The catchy chorus and unabashedly mid-range, persistent trumpet add to the reality-based lyrics of this geographically diverse anthem. 'Let's Make Fun of Everybody' invokes memories of people getting made fun of in junior high and high school. I don't think anyone ever made fun of me, or else I have blocked out most of these memories. 'O'Leaver's Pub Won't Let us Play There Anymore' is another standout on this CD. You will have added appreciation for this song if you have been to shows at this oh-so-hip venue. The low key smack talk and conversational pace of the song add to it's appeal. Tree said it reminds her of They Might be Giants- it even has a circus music-like vibe. The triumphantly philosophical, rationalizing tone of the melody and trumpet solo will stay with you for as long as you let them. The second half of the recording, in my opinion, is not quite as strong as the first half. Standouts include the obnoxiously catchy 'You Should Floss!' and the deliberately nutritionally unconcerned 'Here's What I Have to Say About Tomatoes.' 'We Might as Well Live a Little Bit Before we Die' is a dynamic, driving anthem/ballad that is plain-spoken, hopeful with lyrics worthy of some contemplation. Each song has it's own individual dynamics and unique sounds. I think I like these guys so much because they are much different from many of the other indie style bands I've seen lately. Their creative, often infused with tongue-in-cheek humor, lyrics and outward looking, wide-ranging, spirited compositions form a much-needed island in a sea of soul-searching, personal songs that seem to be so common in today's music world. So I highly recommend you by this CD, if you don't already have it. As for me, I still haven't seen them live, but I hope to make it out to see them at one of their upcoming shows. -Easy Steev, Myspace.