Tag Archives: Fireworks

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