Whether dabbling in experimental noise or stirring a cauldron of electronica pop songs, Video Hippos sound otherworldly. Kool Shades, the latest self-released “demo” by Baltimore, Md.-based duo Kevin O’Meara and Jim Triplett, is marinated in upbeat dance rhythms and seasoned with swaths of feedback, making it an album both friendly and discordant, wistful and robotic.
The title track and subsequent songs like “Neo York” evoke casual eeriness with whistling and melodies that seem something like a lonely Sunday bus ride to some rain-soaked and secluded beach. “Why Can’t I Hear a Thing” is a startling—almost unpalatable—dive into chaotic noise beats, repetitive chanting and a jarring symphony of cymbals. Far more aurally endearing is “Trashed,” which pounds and gallops like actual hippos shaking it down at a dance party. Just as charming is the more melancholy and desperate “Downfall,” which feels like a slightly subdued Japanther song.
During live shows, Video Hippos project personal and pop-culture video onto the screen behind them. Though the eye candy is a welcome addition to the music, Video Hippo’s music itself induces enough imaginative ambiance to take or leave the visual aids. (Erika Fredrickson
Video Hippos play Dauphine’s Cafe Saturday, March 24, at 8 PM with Magnolia Electric Co., Good Neighbor Policy, Cabinet of Natural Curiosities, Dan Deacon and Blood Baby. $10/$8 in advance at Ear Candy Music.