Archive for January, 2009

Animal Collective @ Metro, Chicago, 1/22/09

January 24th, 2009 No comments


Lion In a Coma


Blue Sky (new song)

Guys Eyes

Summertime Clothes

My Girls

Also Frightened

Daily Routine

Leaf House

Brother Sport

Encore: Comfy in Nautica



This will probably be the last time I write about Animal Collective for awhile. Of course with a new album and seeing them at the Metro and seeing that their album is getting close to “Masterpiece” status, there has been a lot on my mind in regards to them.

Based on some of the other setlists and reviews from the shows they probably skipped out 1 song due to Avey Tare having vocal problems. He did not come out for the encore and they played only a total of around 75 minutes but it was essentially 75 minutes of straight music with few interruptions. I have read some reviews so far which would suggest that fans were slightly disappointed in this. At this point, I am much more satisfied in the fact that they actually played as the issue with Avey Tare’s voice might have been the reason they were forced to cancel tonights show.

This is the second time that I have seen Animal Collective, the first time at Pitchfork Music Festival. I would not have considered myself at the time being an avid AC follower. I completely loved Panda Bear’s ‘Person Pitch’, one of my favorite records from 2007. Panda Bear, aka Noah Lennox came out with this solo album exploring some more of his nuanced Beach Boys meets Electronica style that had me shimmering for more. Animal Collective’s ‘Strawberry Jam’ was also an album that I appreciated that year as well. In breaking my virgin status with the Animal Collective show that night, I was struck immediately with the psychaedelic and hypnotic atmosphere of the night, as the songs while much more mellow than last nights show made me a fan of their live show.

When I found out that the band was playing at the Metro in mid-November, I immediately grabbed a chance at seeing them in a more intimate venue. I was surprised when I arrived at the venue nearly 45 minutes before the show started that it was pretty much packed already. As a fan that has always tried to stake out a good spot to see a performance there was a level of excitement in the air for the sold out show that was selling quite a bit over face value on eBay.

The setlist was heavy on the new Merriweather Post Pavilion (MPP) material playing 7 of the 11 tracks off the new album. As with an album that is as masterful as MPP, I could not help but be disappointed however, in the exclusion of ‘In the Flowers’’ probably my favorite track off the new album. However, with an album as solid as this and a show as stunning as it was, individual selfishness has to take a seat to the tapestry that was woven onstage.

Animal Collective are not a type of band where their actions onstage will definitely warrant any fans. These are not individuals that are in any way theatrical with their instruments. They are still a jam band for the electronic age, sounding tight but at the same time very improvisational. You would expect that within a set with virtually no breaks that the band would be playing the same setlist in order night after night but this is not the case. Lengthy interludes between songs make seeing them a unique experience.

Some of the highlights for me was ‘My Girls’ is the oft-repeated chorus during the song. . .

I don’t mean to seem like I care about material things like a social status

I just want four walls and adobe slabs for my girls

In the live setting, the song becomes almost universal, that barrier broken down between band and audience where everyone is singing and dancing, where the message and music are one. While we might be overwhelmed in the digital age with our mobile devices, email, or our entertainment systems, these material possessions mean nothing when it comes to the basic premise of protecting the ones we love.


Animal Collective – My Girls (Video) 

‘Brother Sport’ plays in the same vein as ‘My Girls’ offering that moment where the crowd can be engaged with the band. Being the second of the two songs off the new album with the most pop sensibilities the song builds up in the middle for a frenzied electronic explosion and shifts almost into a completely new song. But the message being brought out is about having inner confidence, and let go of the bad and take in the good. During these dark times we live in, it clearly hits the nail on the head.

As I had mentioned earlier, with Avey Tare having vocal difficulties Geologist and Panda Bear came out for a 1 song encore and I could not have been more pleased with the song they chose. I could argue that Panda Bear’s ‘Comfy in Nautica’ would be a song presented on my ‘Desert Island Mix Tape’ which sounds like Beach Boys behind a sampling board. I would only imagine that Brian Wilson could listen to this and think that this is the true next step beyond Pet Sounds. Hearing this song live and particularly the last minute of the song I felt that “Perfect Moment In Time” as the music crashed around my eardrums I did not want that moment to pass or have the song end but could have stood there for eternity. 

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Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion

January 18th, 2009 No comments

Merriweather Post Pavilion 

From the Liner Notes From Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion


Merriweather Post Pavilion is an outdoor music venue in a place called Symphony Woods in Columbia, Maryland. It was designed by Frank Gehry in the 1960’s, and they’ve been having concerts there from 1967 up through today. We used to go to shows there while growing up and have fond memories of times spent on the lawn. For most of the time we’ve been playing together, both in Animal collective and the years before, we’ve tried to make music that would be deserving of an amazing outdoor listening experience. As both a name and a place, Merriweather Post Pavilion represents this for us.


I think whenever you make a statement like I did that this album is the best album since Wilco’s ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’ that you essentially are left with your dick in your hand; sorta like a first date when you blurt out ‘I Love You’. You better be under some heavy drugs or completely inebriated for such a comment to fly. Most times, you will get a weird look and “Well . . . it was interesting . . . before you crawl into the corner of your bed contemplating the misery and your ineptitude among other things.


However, I was neither on any smack, ludes, hash, or any banned substance which would make me blurt this out. . . just me myself and my trusty computer screen here to guide my way.


There is a point in the first song on Merriweather Post Pavilion (MPP), exactly 2:31 into the song that it just explodes in your brain.  A moment of pure ecstacy and delight that could in some cases make the rest of this album insignificant. There can be no more pure moments in rock and roll but at that moment, two minutes and thirty one seconds into this song where you picture thousands of people at a show feeling that same energy.  That everything is peaceful and perfect and alright in the world.


If I Could Just Leave My Body For The Night . . .


The rest of the album is not insignificant and leads the listener into its hippie cauldron of bliss.   However, this is not a hippie album by any measure but an album that transcends styles and ideas at a more universal approach. I was bundled up this week during the cold Midwestern weather walking to work. . . it was sunny, frigid, and MPP was blaring on my iPod and the streets were silent, as if I was having a Vanilla Sky moment. As cold as it was as my eyelashes were freezing together, I could not help but feel the warmth of the music.


MPP is a progression of Animal Collectives sound mixing the best from their last work, ‘Strawberry Jam’ and Panda Bear’s ‘Person Pitch’


MPP is not a dance album but you want to dance to it. Its an electronica album but you would not think of it as true “Electronica” because its almost organic human characteristics surrounding the music. The lyrics are not going to blow you away as it is not doctorate level poetry but who says that it has to be?  Do lyrics have to provide us with some deeper meaning in life or is it the construct to mesh with the music that is provided on the disc? Not everyone can be Dylan, not even  Dylan himself.


Do I think that there was a reason that the CD of this album is intended to be released on January 20th for a reason? I would guess that the Inauguration of President-Elect Barack Obama has something to do with it. MPP offers that same hope and optimism that should be


The album probably has 5-6 really standout tracks which, depending on the fan you talk to will give you a different answer. The opening track, In The Flowers opens the album up, setting the mood as described above and is followed by ‘My Girls’ a moment of pure bliss pop electronica.


‘Bluish’ is its love song, the lyrics ‘lucid’ and dreamy as the music while ‘Lion In A Coma’ is all about beat and rhythm featuring the ethnic African beats while still sounding fresh and receptive. Brothersport ends the album in a frantic pace, as the dance rhythms take you over.


I would suggest the best listening experience would be to either crank these tunes up very loud to appreciate the heavy bass or wear headphones and get drowned out in the summer atmosphere.


While we are only in January, I am going to be hard pressed to find a better album this year. Something will really have to jump up and surprise me to beat this from start to finish and if it does 2009 would expect to be an amazing year in music. 

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Best Music of 2008

January 5th, 2009 No comments

2008 became a very difficult year to review in my opinion. It might have been that there was very little that caught my ear this year, however, I believe it has more to do with the subpar music that came out this year compared to 2007. Who knows, in a year I might be saying the exact opposite. Comparing this years top ten to last years, there would probably be 4 albums that match up to last years top albums, and two of those bands (Deerhunter and Of Montreal) were on last years list as well.


I guess I could offer a glimpse of last years music in a trance-laced podcast I put together of some of my favorite tracks. You can download it here.

2007 Podcast of Best New Music 

I have not figured out if I will do one this year or not. I planned to do it this weekend but fell ill.

10.   Beach House –Devotion  – Continuing on their ‘devotion’ to slowcore and shoegaze. Fans of ‘Low’ might appreciate their music tranquilized before they do the same to themselves.  

9.     Fuck Buttons – Street Horrrsing – For me this electronica album makes it for its uplifting premise.

8.     TV on the Radio – Dear Science – TV on the Radio is bringing funk back to rock and roll. This is on the edge like Prince was in the early 80s, with great guitars, dark landscapes and great vocals.

7.     Lou Reed – Berlin: Live at St. Ann’s Warehouse – While this is a live album, I really think that it finally makes “Berlin” right. This is one of my favorite Lou Reed albums, albeit not his happiest release ever.

6.     Vic Chestnutt, Elf Power and Amorphous Strums – Vic Chestnutts unique vocal talents and words matched with Elf Power’s music is worth the effort.

5.     R.E.M. – Accelerate – Surely not their best album but this is not half bad with some of the best tunes they have written in years.

4.     Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes offer that beautiful folk pop that will make groups like Simon and Garfunkel and the Mamas and Papas jealous.

3.     Deerhunter – Microcastle/Weird Era. Cont – I am not sure which of these albums is better but presently it would have to go to ‘Weird Era. Cont’ with its beautiful ‘Calvary Scars LI / Aux. Out’, a 10 minute droning guitar piece.

2.     Portishead – Third  – Sometimes when bands take long breaks, their reunions are a mess. That is not the case here. Portishead reinvents their trip-hop style making it feel current.

1.     Of Montreal – Skeletal Lamping – Kevin Barnes writes another masterpiece in my book with Skeletal Lamping. Probably not the type of album that you want your kids to listen to but definitely the most difficult album to get your hands around. While there are 15 tracks on the album, it’s actually closer to 150 as they piece together snippets of  20-40 second songs to form this album. Barnes continues on his 70s retro flair on this album, albeit there are plenty of pop moments throughout, just no singles!


My real #1 however, is R.E.M. – Murmurs Deluxe Edition. This album released on it’s 25th anniversary makes note that nothing even comes close in comparing the standard and quality this album had compared to the music today. Murmur was an album that changed music for the better. Included here on the second CD was a great live show from the era to give fans an idea of what R.E.M. sounded like live during that era compared to the album. There is not a bad note on this album. 

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