Noah Lennox aka Panda Bear (from Animal Collective) has been teasing the follow up album to 2011’s Tomboy for some time now with tour dates spanning the last year featuring almost all new songs, eerie new Danny Perez visuals showcasing a grim reaper figure, rumors from friends/fans, and the cryptic, captivating, and elusive words of Spacemen 3’s Sonic Boom (aka Pete Kember, who also produced Tomboy).
It’s again time to reflect on my favorite musical releases from the past year. Now that 2012 is fully over and done with I’ve now had a few moments to digest all of the enjoyable things I listened to last year and put them in some sort of loosely ordered list (the list has been changing almost every day so don’t pay too much importance to order).
Unlike most other blogs and publications, I like to wait until the following year to consider and consume all the sounds that the prior year had to offer (in this case there were plenty of good ones). In addition this gives my brain some breathing room from catching up on listening to lots of albums in December that I slept on when they were released earlier in the year. I know I’m always going to miss a fair amount of good releases per year (no one can really listen to and be expected to enjoy everything) but I think this year especially I gave it a pretty valiant effort across a wide array of genres and styles. Hopefully you discover a couple new artists and albums that you enjoy or at least find intriguing as a result of this list.
On that note, I’ll never forget the moments of reading about Manitoba’s (now known as Caribou) Up In Flames as being some random guy on the internet’s #1 album of the year in 2003 (on his geocities page or something) or reading about (and then listening to the weird sounds of) Animal Collective’s critically acclaimed Sung Tongs in 2004 and having both literally change my life in terms of the way I listened to and perceived music. I realized a long while back that the discovery of new music was the best part of reading these year end lists and so I started making my own, mainly for the personal fun of making those decisions but also in hopes that someone else might read this and discover something that becomes their new favorite; because to me, there is no better feeling than hearing something you love for the first time ever. It’s a high unlike any other.
Now if you’re wondering what the process I undertake to make a list like this (maybe so you can make your own next year), I simply have a spreadsheet that I keep generally open on my main computer in which I list any albums I’ve listened to from that year and put them in a general order of my liking (after having listened to each once all the way through). Eventually as time goes on, the list gets longer and longer and forces you to try to compare various albums to each other for a relative ranking of which is better and before you know it, the end of the year will be here and you’ll have your own best albums list! To be honest, it’s a really fun activivty and if you work on it early enough in the year you can honestly see how your thoughts compare to other supposed music critics (it’s hard not be a little influenced if you start working on your list in December after already having read a bunch of other lists). A couple other caveats of this are that I do consider self released material, mixtapes, and EPs (as long as they are generally three or four solidly lengthed tracks). Since it is a yearly list I will also combine multiple EP releases for artists as some genres are more suitable to releasing albums and in others getting a few EP releases a year is more the norm.
And again, these picks are all a bit subjective to my taste so don’t take me too literally, all of the albums are good and should be taken as recommendations. However, for a comprehensive post of all the various critic’s best albums lists look to none other than Metacritic for their 2012 Music Critics Top 10 Lists collection. There’s a lot of quality in there, especially since they generally link to each actual article/post which often feature more than just ten albums in their list. And what better why to find some new good music real fast? I’m like a kid in a candy store these days with critic music lists, fast internet, and some online hookups. Anyways, enough of the this and that, onto the list…
Avey Tare (aka Dave Portner of Animal Collective) recently found some time in his busy schedule (e.g., making a new Animal Collective album and doing weird sound art installations at museums) and embarked on a short solo tour supporting his recent 2010 solo album Down There while also allowing him the freedom to jam out on some new tunes which are rumored to be for an upcoming Avey Tare EP he is working on.
I managed to catch (on video) most (if not all) of the new material Avey Tare performed live at his recent show at The New Parish in Oakland, CA on 12/11/11 (which by the way was a great show overall, plus I got a sweet new t shirt!). According to insiders on the Collected Animals forum the apparent setlist for the night was as follows (new songs indicated by *):
Song For Jerome*
So, without further adieu, check out five new jams below including a few Down There songs (Lucky 1 & 3 Umbrellas) at the tail end of two of the videos. I’m really looking forward to how these tunes turn out in the studio (especially New Song 2); but for now, enjoy!
In case you didn’t know, Pitchfork has their annual music festival going on this weekend and (as the nice people they are) their site will be video streaming the festival for everyone online to watch for free. Check out the set times in case there are any bands left you still want to see and head to their site for the live stream.
Animal Collective headlined day one of the festival last night and the video stream of their set has already hit the internets (as well as audio too). As far as I’ve seen, this is probably the best quality live audio/video yet from Animal Collective’s 2011 tour. Check the video out, and feel free to snag the audio files below for your listening pleasure as well. Great stuff.
- Let Go
- Did You See The Words
- A Long Time Ago
- Take This Weight
- Knock You Down
- Brother Sport
- We Tigers
- Summertime Clothes
After a brief break from touring and the release of solo albums by respective members Panda Bear (Tomboy) and Avey Tare (Down Under), Animal Collective are back at it again with a slew of new material to support their 2011 tour dates. With longtime member Deakin rejoining the band after a multi-year hiatus, Animal Collective is back to being a four piece and has since crafted at least ten new songs that are currently being showcased on tour.
I recently caught them live at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco and as luck will have it, some other kind Animal Collective fan recorded their set there and posted the songs broken up online. I originally found the bootleg from this Collected Animals forum thread, but since them someone has refined that audio recording and re-posted it here (download link below):
Their set list consisted of 14 songs in total, including 10 new songs (indicated by the *) to go along with four nicely reworked classics as listed below:
- Stop Thinking*
- Did You See The Words
- A Long Time Ago*
- Take This Weight*
- Knock You Down*
- Brother Sport
- Your Choice*
- We Tigers
- Summertime Clothes
- I’d Rather*
- Little Kid*
That was easily the most epic thing I saw at Coachella in 2011 and it will definitely take a while for something to top that.
Recently Animal Collective’s Panda Bear (aka Noah Lennox) has been giving the public a little insight into his ridiculously anticipated upcoming album Tomboy (which we spoke about before here) with a number of live shows, the most recent of which coming at this year’s Primavera Sound festival in Barcelona, Spain.
Luckily for us, someone at the sound board was recording the show, resulting in the best quality live Tomboy audio to date. Ola’s Kool Kitchen of Radio 23 broke the podcast onto the internets and well, let’s just say it didn’t take very long for everyone else to catch word of it.
Panda Bear’s set consisted on nine new songs (see tracklist below) and all but one of them seem to now be known by their proper title. Aside from the currently untitled King Tubby sample song, at this point we only know of one other new potential Tomboy track called “The Preakness”. Some months back Noah posted a setlist for his mini European tour on his myspace blog page showing the title in his planned encore, but apparently only one of those three shows were even graced by an encore, and that show’s encore only featured Ponytail.
Alas, Panda fans have dug deep and now think that a song he played a few times live that was going by “A Day Ago” is the aforementioned “The Preakness”. The best live example of the song in question comes from the 01/17/10 show in De Kreun, Kortjik, and you can check out a bootleg of the show for yourself here and form your own opinion. Either way, I like this “A Day Ago” live track and if it doesn’t turn out to be “The Preakness” I’ll be that much more happy because it’ll just mean that there’s one more new Panda Bear track for me to hear in the future.
Anyways, for those who like long audio files in their entirety, you can download the podcast of the Primavera Sound show here; but, if you’re like me and want a version with individual tracks and titles (I blame you last.fm) there is also a broken up version that you can download here:
- Untitled “King Tubby” Sample Song
- Surfer’s Hymn
- Last Night At The Jetty
- Slow Motion
- You Can Count On Me
There are also some pretty decent quality videos I found from the Primavera Sound show which I’ve posted below; however, (as Noah mentions) the visuals didn’t end up working for this show so if you’re trying to catch a sneak peak at the wild concoction of images he’s been known to throw behind himself while he plays…well, you’re going have to look elsewhere or catch him on one of his remaining tour dates (Fox Theater, I’m looking at you!).
Oh yeah, and Panda Bear just today released the first 7″ of the Tomboy series featuring the title track “Tomboy” and my current personal favorite “Slow Motion” which you can buy now at the Paw Tracks online store. And if you didn’t get the chance to hear the (low quality) vinyl rips of these songs before they got yanked off Soundcloud trust me, they’re out there to find and are pretty darn good as well (and if you don’t believe me, learn to click on a link buddy).
After a few years of rabid anticipation and rumors, the members of Animal Collective and director Danny Perez are finally ready to unleash their collaborative “visual album” film that we now know as ODDSAC (and just in time to be invited to the Sundance film festival this past January). The film will be released in digital/DVD format in June and is being screened in select cities (as of now NY, Chicago, LA, San Francisco, and Portland) in the mean time. Check out the official ODDSAC website for updated dates and ticket info for all of the screenings.
ODDSAC is being touted as an experimental masterpiece that is a film experience unlike any other. With no perceivable plot interwoven into the connected array of short films and an appropriately matching bizarre/hypnotic pop soundtrack to match, the film is sure to be unique, to say the least. As you can see from the trailer below, it’s very hard to get any sense of what you’ll be seeing by the short twenty some seconds sample. Most of the reviews I’ve read seem to be positive but the recurring theme seems to be that ODDSAC is so different/strange that it is sure to be a subjective experience. So basically, check it out for yourself and make your own opinion. I will be at the San Francisco screening to make mine.
And if that’s not enough, Animal Collective and visual mastermind Danny Perez are back at it again with a performance piece called Transverse Temporal Gyrus. AC and Perez have been given the privilege to transform New York’s Guggenheim museum on March 4th, 2010 into a kinetic, psychedelic environment filled with various visuals elements, costumes, video projections, props, and original Animal Collective music created for the event. Unfortunately the tickets have already sold out, but this is one event that’s probably worth getting gouged on scalped tickets for. And if you still aren’t convinced of how awesome Transverse Temporal Gyrus is going to be, check out Animal Collective’s statement regarding their inspiration for the event:
“One of the things that you notice almost immediately in the jungle are the birds; so many different sounds coming from so many different directions. Are they communicating to each other? What are they saying? Does each variation serve a purpose? Why are there repetitions? Is there a pattern or is that just your imagination? If you don’t know the first thing about bird songs, these questions can rack a brain for days. The jungle seems louder than most New York apartments but its symbiosis makes it subtler if not more pleasing to foreign ears. The longer you sit awake in bed listening at night, the more you hear. It brings to mind Jane Goodall hanging out with chimpanzees in Tanzania and how she noticed them reacting to distant or inaudible sounds that at first she couldn’t hear, but as her ears adapted to the environment after months she began to hear them too.
But as the environments around us change quickly, as people encroach more and more on land where only select symbioses occur, we wonder how this will change the sounds around us and how this alters the way we hear things and react to them. As New Yorkers we are all familiar with the everyday noise around us—the car alarms, the subway trains braking, the music in bars—so familiar that sometimes we drown them out. But then do we not realize how these sounds are affecting us? How they make us feel or act? With this in mind we wanted to create an environment where people could take some time to listen to other kinds of sounds and get away from those familiar sounds of the city. Keeping in mind the birds of the jungle, we’ve created an array of sounds with Animal Collective’s music that is seemingly random…or is it? We invite you to come take some time out and sit with us. As time passes it is our hope that you will wonder if you are hearing songs or patterns or maybe simply hearing more. The visual work of Danny Perez has been incorporated to turn the environment of an empty museum into a more mysterious hideaway. The core elements and colors are worked into the piece in order to unite this room of sound with the inside of your brain. We hope you enjoy.
Thank you for joining us.