Tag Archives: Animal Collective

The Full Picture: Animal Collective

This is the second edition of a new series of posts here on Airwaves. In The Full Picture we will look over a notable alternative artist’s entire discography and note how the sound evolved from album to album, as well as pointing out each album’s best tracks using the magical powers of hindsight. This edition’s band is a bunch of dads who make extraordinary electronic music: Animal Collective

Animal Collective- Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished
Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished (2000)

The earliest Animal Collective release has the chaotic and experimental features that the band has become known for today with far less production and pleasantness present. Animal Collective does some weird things in their music, it’s a part of their appeal, and on Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished things are pretty close to being at the extreme end of that spectrum. There’s some very ambitious long tracks, and many which are difficult listens, but the project is consistently interesting in laying down the groundwork for the band which at this point was only Panda Bear and Avey Tare.

Track Picks: “Bat You’ll Fly”, “April and the Phantom“, “Penny Dreadfulls

Animal Collective- Danse Manatee
Animal Collective- Danse Manatee (2001)

Geologist joins the band at this point as Danse Manatee takes the band which was near the extreme in weirdness another step closer. This is the sort of album which could spark a dumb debate in a room about ‘what music actually is’ because the tracks are gradual, experimental, and seemingly random and uncategorized. At this point with the band it becomes pretty clear that although the lyrics can be fascinating and mean something that the ultimate meaning of the song has to be something beyond them because of their cryptic nature. The music gets interpreted as a mindset rather than a meaning from my viewpoint, and Danse Manatee can be a difficult viewpoint to adopt.

Track Picks: “Essplode”, “In the Singing Box“, “Bad Crumbs

220px-Campfire_Songs
Animal Collective- Campfire Songs (2003)

Honestly I feel awful doing this in a post, but I don’t know enough about this album to discuss it and it’s not in my iTunes music library. I’ve read that it compares to the other early works are mentioned in this post very much, and that’s discouraged me from prioritizing going back for a listen because I prefer Animal Collective from Sung Tongs onward.

Animal Collective- Here Comes the Indian
Animal Collective- Here Comes the Indian (2003)

Some of the sounds on Here Comes the Indian are downright scary to listen to, like the track “Panic” which gets placed in the middle of the album and features the vocals of a yell being repeated for the first two and a half minutes of the track. The chaos feels dark and potentially threatening on this album leading you to wonder what exactly is it that they are trying to portray to you through their music here. There was a defined fan base for the band at this point who focused upon the band’s strengths: Their energy, their originality, and their freedom to turn whatever they’d like into music, but it’s an incredibly difficult sound for me even as a self-proclaimed fan of the band

Track Picks: “Native Belle”, “Infant Dressing Table“, “Panic

Animal Collective- Sung Tongs (2004)
Animal Collective- Sung Tongs (2004)

A very important album to understand in the context of their discography, Sung Tongs is the first time that you could look at an Animal Collective and it’s importance doesn’t lie in it’s odd and experimental methods. Those qualities didn’t disappear, in fact they still haven’t in the band’s modern releases, but on Sung Tongs the weirdness all of a sudden becomes a pleasant listen and surprisingly understandable. Compare “You Could Win a Rabbit” to any song that came beforehand and the difference is astounding, and “Kids on Holiday” is a track where the focus is actually turned onto the vocals over a dull guitar strum. This is the birthing of a more accessible version of Animal Collective, and this is the album which a lot of people should trace back to when trying to place where their favorite Animal Collective sounds came from.

Track Picks: “Kids on Holiday”, “Who Could Win A Rabbit“, “Sweet Road


Continue reading The Full Picture: Animal Collective

Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 10-1

Here’s the finale: songs ten through one on my 100 favorite songs countdown.

10. Bob Dylan- Don’t Think Twice, it’s Alright

I ain’t sayin’ you treated me unkind/ You coulda done better, but, I don’t mind/ You just kinda wasted my precious time/ But don’t think twice, it’s all right.

I adore Dylan as an influence, how could you not when so many of your favorite artists view him as an inspiration, but there’s only one song of his which actually stops me in my tracks. “Don’t Think Twice, it’s Alright” captures Dylan telling his girl that he’s leaving, and that he is doing it because of her. It’s the chance of getting hurt in the relationship that scares everyone, and Dylan goes through a bad one here where the girl “Just wasted [his] precious time”, and Dylan blames her for it because she didn’t do enough to try and make it work. Still, he makes sure to let her know that she doesn’t need to worry about what she’s done to him, because this is a risk that he knew about going in. He’s going to be able to get over this. There’s no desire to see her again, and he knows that she never really had the intention of hurting him in the first place, it just didn’t work out, and that’s alright.

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9. The Velvet Underground- Heroin

“Oh, and I guess that I just don’t know.

This list was made before the death of Lou Reed, but it’s difficult to not take that route while writing about it now. When Reed passed I had to learn about it through social media posts which took an overly symbolic approach to the subject, and as people re-explored his catalog they searched for the lyrics which suddenly looked more meaningful than previously thought. It’s cool that people found these connections, but I hated it because that overly-symbolic look wasn’t what Reed was about at all in my eyes. This wasn’t the man who tried to hide anything in his music, he was the guy who’d actually done it and wanted to let you how what it was. On “Heroin” we get a look at the the hope in the music alongside the gradual buildup and rush of the instruments which ultimately leads to the song’s ‘high’, but it never fails to fall back with what is in my opinion the best lyric that Reed ever wrote: “And I guess, that I just don’t know”.

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8. Animal Collective- Fireworks

“They’ve got two flashing eyes and they’re colored why/ They make me, feel, that I’m only all I see sometimes.”

There’s so much joy in “Fireworks” once you learn what to appreciate in it. The narrator is an observant and self-aware man who dreams one day of having a family he can take to the beach, to watch the fireworks. In his current life though he’s dealing with the same monotony as the rest of us and  he’s learned the routine of how to ignore the repeated questions and tasks he encounters every day. Instead he gets lost in thought about what he hopes for, he thinks about what his kid will think the first time that he sees the fireworks, and all the wonder that will be in his eyes at that point. But what if the child was color blind and just wasn’t able to comprehend what he witnessed? This view on experiential learning reminds him that what he views in the world is completely shaped by how he happened to view it when he was growing up, and leads him to think that “I’m only all I see sometimes”.

Continue reading Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 10-1

Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 20-11

Here are numbers 20-11 on my countdown of my 100 favorite songs.

20. Daniel Johnston- True Love Will Find You in the End

But how can it recognize you unless you step out into the light, the light?

Daniel Johnston is a difficult musician to familiarize yourself with because, in honesty, there is a lot of bad music in his discography. The reason why he’s important is that Johnston, the manic depressive and schizophrenic, has moments in his music which reach absolute beauty. “True Love Will Find You in the End” is a song which begs it’s listener to not give up the belief that you will find the one…eventually. It’s a song to represent the hope that if you stay open and yourself for long enough, one day luck will turn your way and you’ll find the perfect person for you; and that’s the point of everything. You can build up barriers and try to send off a false message, but if you continue to be yourself and look for love then it will find you in the end. “True love is searching too, but how can it recognize you unless you step out into the light”? It’s a discouraging quest (“Don’t be sad, I know you will”), but he believes in the promise of the reward.

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19. Bright Eyes- A Song to Pass the Time

“Now I have locked my actions in the grooves of routine/ So I may never be free of this apathy/ But I wait for a letter that is coming to me/ She sends me pictures of the ocean in an envelope

It’s not a part of “A Song to Pass the Time”, but the interview that precedes this song at the end of “An Attempt to Tip The Scales” is a very good introduction to this track. “A Song to Pass The Time” is told in a manner similar to what Dylan would do, in that they wrote down their observations and described real human interactions rather then trying to conjure a story with a point in mind. The difference between Dylan and Oberst is that while Dylan would say what was there due to his confidence and experience, the younger and depressed Oberst seems to focus on what he thinks is missing. Why does he love the mexican children kicking rocks in the street? Why are all the businessmen and suburban mothers so emotionless and repetitive? Why isn’t my desperation to stay close to the people who I’ve formed a close relationship with shared? I love the verse above because it shows Oberst’s hope that at some point love will just save him from all of this, and she’ll be able to help him understand everything that tortured him before.

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18. The Postal Service- We Will Become Silhouettes

“We become silhouettes when our bodies finally go.”

I love tragic songs that sound happy, and “We Will Become Silhouettes” is the poster boy for that category. Death is still a certainty, in fact it seems to tell the story of an explosion which will is going to kill us all, but it’s become a celebration because that’s when our bodies will finally become silhouettes! We shall become immortalized once “our shells simply cannot hold all our insides in and [then] explode”. Tamborello’s music is cheerful and stuffed with simple, melodic rhythms to represent the joy of the song in it’s own beautiful way, only one example of how well these two worked together on the album.

Continue reading Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 20-11

Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 40-31

Here are numbers 40-31 on my countdown of my 100 favorite songs.

40. The National- All the Wine

I’m in a state/ I’m in a state/ Nothing can touch us my love.

There’s an nice double reality going on in this song. In the present, this man is a danger to everybody around him as he drunkenly stumbles his way through the city, but that’s not what’s going through his mind at all. For him this is the point where he’s finally become what he’s always wanted to be, he’s reached a state where he can view himself as the protector for his family, but he doesn’t realize that he’s currently one of the psychos he swears to protect them from. He’s in a state, but his interpretation of that is that “nothing can touch us my love”.

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39. Bright Eyes- Take It Easy (Love Nothing)

“Someone might get hurt, but it won’t be me/ She’ll probably feel cheap, but I just feel free, and a little bit empty.

There’s more meaningful Bright Eyes songs out there, but not many more which you could relate to as easily as “Take It Easy (Love Nothing)”. It goes into the first time that you have a sexual encounter with someone and find out that they didn’t want it to mean anything, and the changes that come from that. You end up doing the same thing to other people because you desensitize yourself to the act when it seems that the only real solution to avoid getting hurt is to love nothing. It ends up just being a phase, but it’s a tough one and I like hearing it be described so well in this track.

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38. Beirut- Elephant Gun

“If I was young I’d flee this town.”

I recently made the decision that I wanted to leave New York in order to put myself into a situation where I can actually live, but this song was placed on this list before I’d even flirted with that notion. I like the mindset of wishing you still had youth on your side to afford making a drastic change, and in reality I’m fortunate that I can still claim mine. The whole song is very pretty and paced, and I love the continuous re-introduction of the horns that Beirut does to continuously re-build the energy of the song.

Continue reading Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 40-31

Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 50-41

Here are numbers 50-41 on my countdown of my 100 favorite songs.

50. Animal Collective- The Purple Bottle

“Sometimes your quiet and/ Sometimes I’m quiet/ Hallelujah!”

This one can interpreted two ways. For one, it’s an absolutely gorgeous song about falling in love with someone and having everything seem to be magically right. It’s the idealism which Animal Collective specializes in focused on David Portner(Avey Tare)’s relationship with Kría Brekkan, and it captures the absolute joy of believing you have found the perfect person. I like to view the song this way because even if songs last the test of time, their ultimate context has to be viewed in terms of when the song was originally released. I say this because Portner and Brekkan ended up having a divorce, which could change your perception from this being one of the most beautiful love songs out there into an absolutely tragic piece about what was lost. This is one of few songs that I choose to take the optimistic route on though, and I always smile when “The Purple Bottle” comes on.

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49. The Beatles- She Said She Said

“I know what it’s like to be dead

I came so damn close to becoming one of those guys who stopped listening to the Beatles once he listened to alternative music, but “She Said She Said” saved me. Someone who approached John Lennon started to talk to him about the nonsense in their mind where he had a picture for what Lennon must be based upon how his music had effected his life, and Lennon had to let him know that he wasn’t that person. It’s such a quick and standard Beatles song but I adore it because of the feeling of obligation to tell people that you’re not the person they think you are upon introduction, and because Revolver is really an early influential album for the alternative rock scene.

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48. Neutral Milk Hotel- Two Headed Boy (Part Two)

“When we break we’ll wait for our miracle/ God is a place you will wait for the rest of your life.”

My love for Neutral Milk Hotel is a bit awkward because Mangum is drastically more confident in religion than me . Mangum presents a perspective which shows that he not only believes in a god but that he’s confident that what that god does will be just, and thus the Two-Headed Boy will wake from this life to learn that he has been rewarded for the pain that he endured on the Earth, and that will last for the remainder of time. It’s not something I actually believe in, but hearing Mangum sing it is so beautiful that you find yourself praying for it to be true so there can be a happy ending, and because within that line of thinking a new possibility becomes available; Mangum meeting Anne Frank.

Continue reading Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 50-41

Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 60-51

Here are numbers 60-51 on my countdown of my 100 favorite songs.

60. Death Cab For Cutie- Steadier Footing

This is the chance I never got/ To make a move, but we just talk about/ The people we’ve met in the last five years/ And will we remember them in ten more.

A really short and pretty song by Death Cab from earlier in their career, “Steadier Footing” captures Gibbard people watching from his porch late night after a party. He was looking for some isolation, but he found himself in a conversation which was incredibly genuine and capped off the night well for him. I always loved the talking point about if the people who you’re currently friends with will still be friends of yours in ten years because it’s a very real fear for myself, in an ever-changing world you have to wonder if the good things will stay constant.

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59. Bright Eyes- Amy in the White Coat

“You see, we’re all trying to endure/ You could easily go and make your own life somewhere/ Couldn’t you?

I dug into Noise Floor after hearing the more popular Bright Eyes albums and loving them, and I remember that on the first listen I enjoyed it, but the only songs that really jumped out at me were the Daniel Johnston cover of “Devil Town”, the piano-lead “Drunk Kid Catholic”, and “Amy in the White Coat”(in hindsight, “Blue Angels Air Show” should have been in this grouping). At the point though I hadn’t followed the storyline to “Amy in the White Coat”, I just remembered it as a good song that I wanted to re-visit, and on that second listen I was stunned and saddened. The entire track is about a girl, Amy, who is in an incredibly bad living situation with her father (I don’t feel fully comfortable typing out how so). The horrible part is that Amy’s just found a way to deal with it because she needs to be there to survive, so she doesn’t really see an alternative. It’s the saddest song I’ve ever heard.

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58. Radiohead- The National Anthem

“Everyone/ Everyone is so near/ Everyone has got the fear/ It’s holding on.”

I respect Radiohead a lot but I don’t obsess over them, in fact the only real Radiohead song that I feel a strong connection to is “The National Anthem”. I like how this song attacks you as new instruments get introduced to the chaos in response to Thom Yorke’s messages to the masses. Everything seems like it really belongs in the track, as Radiohead creates a national anthem where the nation doesn’t get rid of the ugly, where it isn’t meant to be sung by kids in school, and where there are just long segments of chaotic noise occurring.

Continue reading Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 60-51

Kyle’s Governor’s Ball Preview

The Governor’s Ball music festival is taking place this weekend, and I am super excited for this. The festival boasts a consistent and impressive lineup that features some of the top artists from alternative music, hip-hop and EDM, with ticket holders having to choose between two artists for each time slot. Fortunately I’m familiar with a decent amount of the artists playing at this festival, and in this post I’ll let you know which artist I’m going to try to see during each time slot this weekend and why.

Friday

12:15-12:45: Swear and Shake vs. Pacific Air

Pacific Air is brothers playing indie pop. They’re a relaxing listen and well-traveled as they’ve opened for high profile acts before like Passion Pit and Two Door Cinema Club. Swear and Shake seems like it’d be a fun show as well but they’re more folky and seemingly conventional, so I’m planning on starting the festival with Pacific Air.

12:45-1:30 Solid Gold vs. Bear Mountain

We got Solid Gold’s 2012 release Eat Your Young at CDB last year and it wasn’t anything special, I’d say it’s alternative rock with a lot of electronic qualities mixed in to it, again more relaxing than danceable. I hadn’t heard of Bear Mountain before this year’s lineup, but their music seems like it would lead to a better live show then what I’ve heard from Solid Gold, Bear Mountain’s sound is more danceable and upbeat electronic so it should be a fun set to attend.

1:30-2:15 St. Lucia vs. Reignwolf

St. Lucia will put on a good electronic pop show, but my interest is in seeing what Reignwolf does during this time slot. He’s a multi-instrumentalist who seems like he’d put on a sick show, check out the video below where “Bicycle” sounds White Stripes-esque with him covering both Jack and Meg’s parts. This guy’s going to be a hit at governor’s ball for sure.

2:15-3:00 Polica vs. The Knocks

Electronic rock/R&B vs. Electronic Pop. I’m not overly excited about Polica, so The Knocks seem like a safer bet for enjoying the set but either way I don’t view this as a decision you can mess up, the options are pretty similar.

3:00-3:45 Dinosaur Jr. vs. Holy Ghost!

I’d be psyched to see Holy Ghost! over either of the past two artists, but in this slot there’s no way I can see them. I’m an alt-rock kid, and Dinosaur Jr. is one of the bands that defined that genre in the 90s, making the fact that they still release awesome albums like last year’s I Bet on Sky even more impressive. I have to go with the classic artist in this spot to get my fill of actual alternative rock.

3:45-4:45 Best Coast vs. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs

I might regret this and be stuck watching a girl on stage sing to me about how great California is, basically the only premise of 2012 release The Only Place, but I’m going to gamble we get the distorted energetic Crazy For You tracks that would make the set amazing. If you were completely off-put by her last release, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs won’t be a bad consolation prize.

4:45-5:45 Of Monsters and Men vs. Dillon Francis

I saw Of Monsters and Men perform last year in Albany and they put on a good show, but I’m a bit bored of their sound now(and the mini-genre as a whole to be honest). I’m not overly into EDM but my friends who are recommended this artist, so I’m going to go with a new experience here rather than attending a show where I know I’ll be indifferent about the band.

5:45-6:45 Crystal Castles vs. Local Natives

This is another big contrast in sound between the artists, so I’d say it depends on your mood. Crystal Castles will definitely be more upbeat and danceable, and apparently she’s very good live, but I’m probably going to give Local Natives a shot here as I find their music easy to enjoy.

6:45-8:00 Feist vs. Young the Giant

This one is based entirely upon the Broken Social Scene rumor if nothing else. BSS is booked in the city to do a late-night gig on Thursday night, and a rumor is going around that Feist’s label mates might help end the BSS hiatus by doing a collaborative set or maybe even taking the stage for their own set after Feist. If it happens it would be probably the most notable story from the festival.

8:00-9:30 Beach House vs. Erykah Badu & the Cannabinoids

I feel like I’m making a mistake on this one so don’t let me sway you away from Erykah Badu, but I loved Beach House’s 2012 release Bloom and am hopeful that they put on the most relaxing show ever performed for their set. Can’t pick wrong between these artists though as they’ll both put on great shows.

9:30-11:00 Kings of Leon vs. Pretty Lights

Finally the headliners, neither of which I’m overly enthusiastic about unfortunately. I’m going to go with the same mentality I had for Dillon Francis in giving the artist who I know less about the shot here. I enjoy some Kings of Leon songs, but Pretty Lights seems like a more fun way to enjoy the end of the first day to me as I’ve heard good things about their live shows.

Continue reading Kyle’s Governor’s Ball Preview

DJ Survey: What’s Your Favorite Summer Album

We’re in Finals week here at SUNY Albany, and with summer approaching we decided to check in with our DJs before they bolted to see which albums they think they’ll be playing during the upcoming months!

DJ Milky [Alt-Rock]- “DJ Milky’s Music Hour for Dumb Babies” Monday 4am-6am

I generally like listening to jangly stuff like the Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Anything that would be a good soundtrack to riding a bike in shorts while drinking a slurpee.

Metal Tony [Metal]- “The Metal F’n Show” Saturday 10pm-midnight

For me, it would have to be For the Sake of Revenge by Sonata Arctica. The music is very upbeat, plus the live aspect of it reminds me that summer season is concert season.

DJ HEAT [Alt-Rock]- “Let the Good Times Roll” Monday 6pm-8pm

Jay Reatard Blood Visions: CRANK THAT with the windows down and you will feel like you drank 10 cups of coffee in a good way (R.I.P. Jay Reatard)

Bruce Springsteen – All 3 parts of the Live at Passaic bootleg from 1978. Also… I think “Thunder Road” by Bruce Springsteen is the quintessential summer song

Sleater-Kinney All Hands on the Bad One

1 CURRENT song that is a definitely summer song is “Quotidian Beast” by Phosphorescent

Continue reading DJ Survey: What’s Your Favorite Summer Album

Panda Bear at Governor’s Island

On September 11th around 8pm I headed over to Governor’s Island to take in some of the most unique music I’ve heard in a while in a powerful environment. Getting off the water taxi, I had a clear view of the Sept. 11th memorial lights shining from Ground Zero. The ambiance surrounding that made for a really memorable concert. Nothing I can say here can give justice to the full experience but here are some of my (incoherent at times) thoughts:

Teengirl Fantasy was one of the openers for Panda Bear. Reigning from my roommate’s hometown in New Jersey, they delivered what any concert-goer would want to hear from an opener. Heavy beats and dub-house cuts got the crowd energized. My only qualm is that they were followed by co-opener Gala Drop from Portugal. The first few tracks from Gala Drop were interesting and kept the crowd wanting more but as their set progressed the music and the crowd’s attention span digressed. Everyone got a little antsy waiting through their set and yelling/booing ensued.

Panda Bear finally took the stage around 11pm. Coming out in a gray sweatshirt it was all about the music from the beginning. He opened with “Drone” which slowly faded into “Daily Routine”. Teasing the audience, Panda Bear would play chunks of “Daily Routine” he knew the crowd would know and then quickly revert back into newer material. All of his new stuff was some of the most original and enjoyable music I’ve heard in at least the past year. The lighting (especially in “Comfy in Nautica”), extreme amounts of fog, and the video piece added to the phycidelic feel. One of my favorite pieces live was “Ponytail” which exemplified Panda Bear’s art of mixing textures with captivating harmony.

Setlist:
Drone
Daily Routine
Tomboy
Guys Eyes
Surfer’s Hymn
Ponytail
Comfy In Nautica
Slow Motion
Last Night At The Jetty
Benfica
Bullseye
You Can Count on me

Encore:
Alsatian Darn
I Think I Can/Chores