For those who weren’t happy with Panda Bear’s last album, Tomboy, or for those who can’t get enough of it – Tomboiled by Youtube user Patrick Cederberg is a seriously good re-imagining of Tomboy that integrates the transitions and sounds from the live show with the album’s recordings.
BONUS(???): if you dig that and/or want more, check out this most dope recording of a live show Panda Bear did in Warsaw, Brooklyn last year that covers track from his most recent release, Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper.
Artist: Animal Collective Album: Centipede Hz Label: Domino Rating: 7.0 out of 10
Being an Animal Collective fan is frustrating sometimes. They’re the rare kind of group that gains popularity by defying audience expectations, but this failure to do so feels less like a creative independence sometimes and more like an intentional sabotage. Until their breakthrough 2009 release, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Animal Collective were an extremely polarizing act – either you “got it” or you didn’t. The straight forward, easily accessible melodies of Merriweather put a lot of that to rest, though, and this approach to songwriting surged the band in popularity. Despite this, Animal Collective aren’t an experimental group that turned into a psychedelic pop one, they’re an experimental group that happened to make a psychedelic pop record. Centipede Hz then is a return to form to the kind of music they made before, a blaring assault of sonic and electronic exploration that hides melodies underneath its layers and will definitely polarize people to the group again like their older records did before.
The problem with Centipede Hz isn’t the obvious shift in aesthetics, though, it’s the furious explosion of sound that makes the songs feel claustrophobic and packed. “Moonjock,” the album’s intro, has so much going on that it feels a typhoon of noise. This problem is alleviated somewhat by listening to the album on speakers where the tracks have more space to breathe, but on headphones this might initiate mild levels of panic attacks. Groupmember Deakin, who returns after taking a hiatus from the group, contributes the track “Wide Eyed” which is a nice respite from the chaos when it hits near the halfway point, but his parts are so prominent on the rest of the album that it’s frequently distracting.
Regardless, this album still has its fair share of great moments. “Today’s Supernatural,” the album’s first single, is classic Animal Collective, and “Rosie Oh” (one of two tracks written by Panda Bear) slinks through with an infectious groove. “Father Time” is another highlight that recalls the best moments of Avey Tare’s excellent 2009 solo release, Down There, but “New Town Burnout” (the other track written by Panda Bear), sounds too much like a track from his 2011 solo album, Tomboy (understandable as it was written right after that album was recorded). It’s still good, but a solo version that stripped away the excess of the group and kept things minimal would have worked better for it. “Pulleys” is a nice palate cleanser before the closer “Amanita” that uses the hectic atmosphere established by the rest of the album to good effect. “Honeycomb” and “Gotham,” two excellent tracks the group put out as a single a few months back, are completely absent from the album, and their replacement of other songs on this album like “Monkey Riches” or “Mercury Man” would have been better choices.
Despite everything though, Centipede Hz, like so many other Animal Collective albums, is not an album that can be easily digested on the first few listens. These songs take time to sink in, and maybe a lot of the criticisms leveled at it will change when the initial hype dies down. Regardless, Merriweather Post Pavilion wasn’t the best thing the group has ever done because they sacrificed their sound for the sake of accessibility, it was the best thing they’ve done because, for once, it didn’t sound like they were intentionally trying to subvert the power of their craft. No matter what they do, though, Animal Collective are still an incredibly unique band that exist purely in their own realm. They just don’t always have to work so hard to prove it to us.
Here’s 5 videos for you to jam with – two recently new ones, one classic, and two that are lesser known.
1. Animal Collective – Today’s Supernatural
I’m not really a fan of Animal Collective’s visual work. As trippy and psychedelic as their music is, I never imagine it with such a heavy horror element that so many Animal Collective videos have. Thankfully, though, this video lacks all that usual dredge and keeps a largely pleasant tone. Off their upcoming album, Centipede HZ, “Today’s Supernatural” features dragon go cart races, weird face paint, and violently inclined disembodied arms.
2. Black Moth Super Rainbow – Windshield Smasher
After hitting their goal three times over with their recent Kickstarter, Black Moth Super Rainbow are having a pretty good year so far. “Windshield Smasher,” the first video and single from their upcoming album Cobra Juicy , has a lot of windshield smashing (obviously) and other shenanigans. After a couple, misled by their GPS, stumble into a alley of orange-skeleton masked thugs – their car is destroyed, their heads are shaved, and they are force fed birthday cake lovingly dissected by a chainsaw. Minus the vehicular destruction, though, a free haircut and some cake doesn’t sound all that bad even if it is forced on by a gang.
3. CLASSIC: Cibo Matto – Sugar Water
Cibo Matto’s track “Sugar Water” from their 1996 album Viva! La Women was a minor hit when it came out. The video, directed by Michel Gondry of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind fame, shot it in one continuous take. Dividing everything via a split-screen where one half of the video plays forward and the other plays in reverse, this one will give you a real head trip near the middle when everything comes together.
4. HOTT MT – Never Again (ft. Wayne Coyne)
HOTT MT, a relatively unknown band from L.A., showed up at Wayne Coyne’s doorstep earlier this year to record a track with him without announcing their intentions or knowing if he would even let them. Rather than turn them away, though, The Flaming Lips frontman housed the group, recorded the track, and shot a video for it (not a bad deal). Anyway, this is a surprisingly great track. Expect more from this band soon.
5. Ghosthustler – Parking Lot Nights
Ghosthustler, the former band of Neon Indian’s Alan Palomo, is extinct now, but their music still lives on like a thought in the wind(?). The video is pretty fun and features a lot of NES Power Glove punching and dancing inside televisions. So there’s that.