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Old 02-17-2008, 11:07 PM   #1
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Animal Collective - thoughts from a n00b

Tonight, you will have the pleasure of watching me squirm. I am about to listen to Animal Collective's three most popular albums: Sung Tongs, Feels, and Strawberry Jam, back-to-back-to-back. This band, for those who don't know, can be extremely avant garde, and are notoriously challenging for first-time listeners. Tonight, without any previous experience listening to this band, will post my impressions in a stream-of-consciousness manner. This could be a very good teaching tool for those interested in checking out this band in the future, or great comedy for those already familiar with them.

Through the rabbit hole I go.
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Old 02-17-2008, 11:36 PM   #2
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If you went in reverse order you'd have an easier time, each successive album is more accessible than the last.
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Old 02-17-2008, 11:43 PM   #3
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Sung Tongs review coming up soon. This is one bizarre record. One of the strangest things I've heard in pop music.
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Old 02-18-2008, 12:09 AM   #4
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Sung Tongs

OK...so, this first song is called "Leaf House". It's extremely repetitive. Don't have a damn clue what they're singing. There's a conga drum that sounds sampled...not sure if there's a melody anywhere in here yet. It sounds like they're getting their throats examined. I'm not sure whether this lo-fi or just minimalistic.

Song two. Some shit about winning a rabbit. They sound WAY too perky. Guitar melody is alright. Kind of fun, but also positively frightening. Oh, god...they're clapping now. If they're going to utilize sound effects, they should at least sound like something. Just my two cents for the future.

Song three. "Softest Voice". Pretty guitars...some dude is blowing through a comb. 1 minute in...still no change. Guitars are still pretty. I hear water, but it may not be water. Now somebody is singing through a comb. Can't hear them too well...they're probably insulting my mother. 3 minutes in...still hasn't built up to anything. Relaxing, but so is a scented candle. Now the melody has disappeared and they're making noise. WTF. Now they've been plunking around on a guitar for nearly 6 minutes, and nothing much as happened. I could have better spent this time combing my hair. The irony.

Song four. "Winters Love". Sounds cute. Some dude is banging on a desk as percussion. Apparently, making a squeaking noise with guitar strings > making music with them. This is 5 minutes long? Sheeet. It's sort of hypnotic...WAIT, a guitar just came out of nowhere, and now they're chanting something in my ear. I have a feeling looking at a lyrics site wouldn't help me much. Well, this is kind of fun. Like a group of buskers can be fun. Next.

Song five. "Kids On Holiday". People are wanking around with the vocals, so they sound like rubber bands on helium. Wonderful. There's some extremely cracked substitute for what you would call a drumbeat, but it sounds like an explosion. The band sounds like they're doing a soundcheck. Vocals are OK now, but there's too much weird stuff going on for me to hear them. The same melody has been going on for a couple of minutes with no change. Someone keeps screaming. I think this song is supposed to be the album's epic song for the ages, but I can barely hear the good part. I must say, this is a fun record so part, but there hasn't really been a good song yet. I guess that says something about it.

Song six. "Sweet Road". I think they're playing at a Japanese kindergarten now. Raffi has joined in on guitar. I can picture someone playing hopscotch to this song.

Song seven. "Visiting Friends". 12 minutes? This must be the epic. I'm sure it's everyone's favorite. Guitar melody is good...somebody's whispering something, but I can't really make it out, which pisses me off. One minute in and nothing has happened. I bet if I played this song in reverse it would kick ass. OK, I think Animal Collective just set a demon free from its eternal crypt. The vocals are scaring the %@$% out of me right now. Nearly 4 minutes in and nothing has happened; still a guitar and someone talking backwards. Now it's getting louder, but it's just the same thing. God, this band is lazy. Kind of hypnotic though, in a good way. Actually, this isn't bad at all, even after 8 minutes. Melancholy, but I wish it had lyrics...OK, that sounded pretty discriminatory. Should save that for FYM. Anyway, heavenly little tune here, even if I would like some sort of evolution in it, and it's about 6 minutes too long.

Song eight. "College". BEACH BOYS MELODIES FTW. Is this a Be True To Your School cover? Oh, it's only 0:53 seconds long. I "don't have to go to college"? Cool. You learn something new everyday.

Song nine. "We Tigers". I think they're trying to summon rain with this one. Or maybe it's a bizarre new tiger call. This should be called Theme From Let's Go Native. I couldn't understand a word of either of them. The tribal drums are a nice touch.

Song ten. "Mouth Wooed Her". OK, your mouth wooed her? Is this some abstract way of saying that you spoke to her lovingly or some shit? Mouths aren't that attractive, and dentists have to wear gloves, man. The intro of this one is really pretty though. Someone is pretending to be an airplane for their child while lovely guitars play. I can actually understand the lyrics in this one...pretty romantic, I guess. There's something resembling a song structure here, but it's pretty abstract. The oddball production actually works well here, probably since they actually bothered to write a melody to go along with it. Just something to keep in mind.

Song eleven. "Good Lovin Outside". OK, this guy really needs to learn how to keep a steady guitar rhythm. This had to have been done in one take. No one could possibly be psychotic enough to orchestrate something like this. The band must be out busking at the park this time. Maybe the kindergarten gig didn't go well. There's a melody here, and lovely-ish moments, but they're so random and broken up that I can't key in on them.

Song twelve. "Whaddit I Done". OK, a duck is singing. WTF. WAH-WAH to that, I say. This song is creepy as hell, unintentionally so. The melody is unusual and interesting, but the duck squawking is really unnecessary. This makes the Cocteau Twins' lyrics sound like spoken word poetry played on bose speakers. Definitely not closer material, but at least it's short.

Sung Tongs gets a / .

Feels is next. It may not sound like it, but I'm having a good time.
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Old 02-18-2008, 01:06 AM   #5
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Feels

Song one. "Did You See The Words". Clacking drum beat, a hypnotic guitar line that almost sounds like a harp. The vocalist sounds insane, but at least I can understand him. I'm waiting for this thing to explode...OK, here comes the drums. Not bad at all. Sounds WAY too indie for comfort, but what the hell. Some of the avant garde from Tung Songs is seeping in here, but it fits in well. Still haven't looked at a lyrics site yet...I figure I'm better off. The ending contains some really bad attempts at harmonizing. Perhaps it's just too amazing for me to comprehend.

Song two. "Grass". I'm sure they would know a bit about that. HEY-OH! Seriously, the singer still sounds insane. More so, actually. He's screaming like a banshee now. There's something resembling a melody here, but his spider monkey is covering it up with his screeching. The song keeps trying to worm its way into my brain, but I won't remember this 30 seconds from now. Next.

Song three. "Flesh Canoe". That's a disturbing mental picture. But maybe not to them. I'm seriously frightened of the vocalist right now, which is too bad for me, because the vocals are EVERYWHERE. Damn reverb. It just sounds like mush to me right now...not much is sticking out at all. I would close my eyes to attempt to take it all in, but I'm scared of the dark at the moment. The lyrics I can pick out are kind of cool, if that's any consolation.

Song four. "The Purple Bottle". It really sounds like a skipping indie rock song played through a bunch of effects that add nothing. What's underneath is OK, but I can't help but imagine what this would sound like live. I can only imagine what that guy who keeps inhaling is breathing in. He's probably having a blast right now. Picturing what these songs would sound like NOT drenched in over-the-top production is like picturing someone naked; it's only enjoyable in certain cases. The rest of the time it's traumatic. Does this band ever rehearse these songs beforehand, or do they just make it up as they go along? Most of their music sounds improvised to me, even though I know it's not. Ugh...now I'm really rambling, and there's still a minute left in this one.

Song five. "Bees". Pretty intro, rather relaxing, and no horribly cliche bee sound effects yet. Oh wait, there they are. This is still rather nice though. Probably the best on the album so far. Really nice melodies here, both vocal and on guitar. I wish this would build to something, but I'm almost certain it won't. 3 minutes in, and I wish it would just end while it's still welcome. "The bees, the bees, the bees, RRR RRR RRR" = best line evar. That was rather pleasant...I feel refreshed.

Song six. "Banshee Beat". Let me guess, I won't be able to hear this one until I crank up the headphones. So far, I'm right. Someone is unwrapping something...probably a Clark bar. I like those. Anyway, nothing is happening. The guy is singing over ringing guitar, and they sound like they're floating in the ai-OH, I SEE WHAT THEY DID THERE. HA-HA! OK, now it's building...to what, I don't know. I swear I've heard this song on a Godspeed You! Black Emperor record before. Or maybe that was Explosions In The Sky. 4 minutes, still the same old thing. Dude just let out a howl...I can feel the earnestness. Is that a rain stick I hear? +1 for that. I can't help but think that this song could have been just as good, if not better, at 4 minutes, but what the hell do I know? My album didn't get a 9.0 Pitchfork.

Song seven. "Daffy Duck". This song hardly sounds daffy. Should have switched titles with Whaddit I Done. This song also sounds like post-rock for whatever reason, which disappoints me, because I miss the sheer insanity of Sung Tongs already. Sure, this isn't annoying, but I'm a U2 fan...I have all the ringing guitars I need. Now they're just wanking around, stopping and starting the song at will. Now it's back again, though not with a vengeance...I would probably like this song more while lying in a tub full of water. Ugh...I GET IT. YOU KNOW HOW TO WORK A DELAY PEDAL. GOOD FOR YOU. HAVE A COOKIE.

Song eight. "Loch Raven". That's a badass title, fo rizzle. This song has a great melody; it sounds like a lullaby. Nice balance between the deeper male vocals and the ethereal female vocals. I can tell this song isn't going anywhere, but it's quite nice where it is. I'm having fun just listening for the weird sound effects. This would have fit nicely on Kid A.

Song nine. "Turn Into Something". Back to manic chanting and vocals like sound like they're being sung by someone with their hair on fire. Melody is OK, nothing exciting, but it's interesting to hear this band play around with an actual song structure. I quite enjoy it when they take a good song and make it great with their fascinating production work. This song is mildly entrancing, kind of ethereal, and sort of fun, I guess.

Feels isn't as fun as Sung Tongs, but Did You See The Words, Bees, and Loch Raven make this worth listening to. Gets a /
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Old 02-18-2008, 01:54 AM   #6
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Re: Animal Collective - thoughts from a n00b

Quote:
Originally posted by LemonMelon
I am about to listen to Animal Collective's three most popular albums: Sung Tongs, Feels, and Strawberry Jam, back-to-back-to-back.
That's considered torture in come countries...

I honestly can't stand this band, and believe me I've tried.
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Old 02-18-2008, 02:18 AM   #7
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Strawberry Jam

Song one. "Peacebone". WOAH, nelly! Electronic madness! It sounds like an old computer from the 80's attempting to download a movie. My head is totally bopping right now. I like that I can actually hear what's going on. The melody is a bit plain, however. The production is hilarious, and I think they just let a panther into the recording studio. I like this. It's fun. It sounds like a nerdy techno party on a deserted island. BONEFISH!

Song two. "Unsolved Mysteries". A typewriter is playing synthesizers now...that's kind of cool. I know it's a guitar, but credit for making it sound interesting. Nice vocal melody here. This album is very fun so far...pretty filled-out, yet fun as well. And not in the "let's play random shit" Sung Tongs way. I could see myself grooving to this bouncy stuff in a month's time. I like that the ending hook is "Jack the Ripperrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr". This is one strange band. Now mice are playing atari. Cool.

Song three. "Chores". One of the sad things about listening to these albums is that Person Pitch no longer sounds unique. The heavily-layered, reverb-drenched harmony vocals are all here, and this song is one example of that. I'm having a difficult time getting into any sort of a groove with this one, or keying in on what it's doing, but it's interesting to listen to the band screw around when they have a good melody to work this. Now the track is picking up steam; will it explode or just stay where it is? The latter, unfortunately.

Song four. "For Reverend Green". I can hear something that sounds like a cross between a guitar and a lawnmower being started up. If this is what the entire song sounds like, I'm in for a ride. Nope, it doesn't, but there is this scratchy...guitar(?) that sounds cool. The melody is starting to come together now. Very strange stuff. This guy has a good voice; it's nice to be able to understand the lyrics. The song appears to be building up to a climax of Fix You-esque proportions. Just kidding. The singer is trying to rock out, but the music is just so cracked, so it doesn't fit all that well. Oh well, this is a nice little fractured pop song.

Song five. "Fireworks". This song has a pretty funky opening. I like the skittering drumbeat. Waiting for this one to get moving, but it just refuses to go. Lead vocals aren't great, "chorus" melody is good, I like the "hee hee hee" backing vocals. I also like the cheesy organ bits they inject later in the song. Why oh why won't they let this song off its chain? Bah.

Song six. "#1". The lead vocals on this song are LOW. I like the robotic keyboard riff thing. Can't say I care for this much overall though. 3 minutes in, and it's still just floating around.....Now it's over, and I have nothing new to add.

Song seven. "Winter Wonderland". This sounds like a pretty traditional pop/rock song, and that scares me. I'm expecting something frightening to happen, but nothing yet. I like this though. It would sound lovely on an acoustic guitar, methinks. The lyrics are standout.

Song eight. "Cuckoo Cuckoo". With a title like that, I can only imagine what AC will do with it. Nice ethereal opening. Perhaps this will be like Daffy Duck and be completely unlike its title. I like the piano and electronic buzzing, but the vocals are sloppy. OK, now it's moving. This track is a bit insane, but not exactly cuckoo. "Bi-polar" would be a better way to describe it. You probably couldn't classify that as insane. I like the pummeling guitars in the faster parts.

Song nine. "Derek". I hear drums that sound like splashing. Not sure what to say about that. This is a happy-sounding song. I think I may do a little jig now. OK, now its beat is changing to something more industrial. Still upbeat though. Not sure what else to say about this. Nice closer. That is all.

Strawberry Jam wasn't bad at all. I'm Ready was right; AC's albums do get more accessible as you go. The first half of SJ is better than the second half, but both are OK. This one gets a . / .

I hope you all enjoyed watching me rant on about this very bizarre band. I intend on listening to these albums again at a future date, as there were parts of all of them that I enjoyed.

Good night, and Godspeed.
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Old 02-18-2008, 03:33 AM   #8
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Hey, good for you. I've spent years trying to get this band, and it sounds like after just one listen, you've already done a better job than I. Hoody hoo.

As far as my thoughts go--a few amazing songs and never a good record. I don't think that these guys are for me, and everybody inexplicably flipping out over Person Pitch (again, a record I thought was decent at best, with a few moments of devastating perfection) probably didn't help matters.
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Old 02-18-2008, 08:12 AM   #9
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I've never been able to get into this band, either. I like a few songs, but that's about it. I can't listen to the albums all the way through.
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Old 02-18-2008, 03:41 PM   #10
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Great band.

Seem to get progressively better as they go along as well. Look out for these guys.

CERTAINLY an acquired test, as well. And even MORE certainly not for everyone.
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Old 02-19-2008, 12:15 AM   #11
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Hopefully Feels/Sung Tongs will grow on you a little bit more. Once you become acquainted with the weirdness, its good stuff.
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Old 02-22-2008, 01:33 PM   #12
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I love Grass. I kinda sorta like this band, but not enough to recommend them.
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Old 02-27-2008, 12:12 AM   #13
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Strawberry Jam is still the only album of theirs I've heard (which I bought only because I ended up liking the Panda Bear record quite a bit). On first listen I didn't like it much at all, but it's seemed to grow on me.

Peacebone, Fireworks, and Winter Wonder Land are probably my favs from it.

Back to Panda Bear, I recommend Person Pitch (if you haven't already heard it) if you enjoyed the AC albums.
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Old 01-05-2009, 12:28 PM   #14
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Holy shiiite, way to start the year, Pitchfork.

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Old 01-05-2009, 01:38 PM   #15
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FFS. Knowing Pitchfork's relationship with AC, it's probably a 7 at best.

I'll give it a listen though.
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