Centipede Hz just became available for streaming, which means it’s time to break out your machetes and slather on the bug spray — we’ve got some exploring to do.
Animal Collective’s world can be a little crazy. There is screaming. There are monsters. Layers of electronic production saturate songs, flooding them with sounds, not all of which are tethered to the rhythm and melody they accompany. It’s a sonic rainforest as dense as any you’ll find, and there’s nothing quite like hacking your way through a new release.
I have a few more things to share about my trip to Nashville (I promise they don’t involve vomit or Jack White), but I have to butt in and right a writing wrong that I, myself, have perpetrated. It’s been 302 days since I last wrote about Animal Collective. How the hell did this happen? AC and I certainly aren’t feuding or anything. As Big Boi once said of his distinguished colleague, André 3000, “Not clashing, not at all.”
I guess one reason might be that they haven’t released a conventional* LP since Merriweather Post Pavilion, but that wasn’t that long ago, right? Let me just check Wikipedia and find out when that wa… January of 2009? WTF?!? There’s no way 40 months have passed since that album came out. It just can’t be true. The songs still feel fresh, despite the fact that I’ve heard them god knows how many times over the past few years. In fact, I’m pretty sure the album hasn’t left my phone’s iPod, and I’ve had at least two phones since January of 2009. The more I think about it, the more it seems like this is a major indicator of an album’s greatness — the amount of time after its release that it stays in the front of your mind (and on the smaller hard drive of your primary listening device).
You know what’s fun? Getting a sneak preview of something. There’s nothing like mixing exclusivity with instant gratification. Simply deee-vine. In just a second, I’m going to pass along a not-so-sneaky trick for getting your grubby paws on new tunes before they’re released, one that doesn’t involve going around the artist’s back and finding an involuntarily leaked copy.
Here’s the totally above-board trick… if it’s feasible, go see the band whose album you’re salivating over. Not only will you probably hear how the new material sounds live, you may even walk away with the album in hand. This happened late last year at the RVA Music Festival, when the Trillions were selling advance copies of their new album (which is fantastic), and it happened again his past Saturday night when I saw Dana Buoy open for Youth Lagoon at the Rock and Roll Hotel in Washington D.C. During his set, Buoy proprietor Dana Janssen, who is also the percussionist for a group called Akron/Family, announced that even though his debut solo album Summer Bodies isn’t out yet (it won’t be until May 8), advance copies were available for purchase at the merch table.
Special Two-Part Coverage of the Most Hipster Thing I’ll Do All Summer Part 2: There Will Be Merch
I’ve been writing this blog for three and a half months now, and (sigh) it’s time. It’s time I shared with you that… here goes… I have a merch addiction. A raging one. Show me a merch table, and I’ll show you all the cash I have in my wallet. My triggers include concerts, NASCAR races, baseball games, basketball games, political campaigns, SXSW was a t-shirt collecting shit show… it’s bad, OK? So when I walked into Saturday’s Animal Collective concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion, my love for merch and my vinyl habit teamed up, and things got a little out of hand. I snagged a t-shirt, a copy of Animal Collective’s Fall Be Kind EP on vinyl, a 7″ single of Panda Bear’s “Last Night at the Jetty,” and a lime green Merriweather Post Pavilion bag (What? Sometimes a guy needs to tote some stuff around for a few hours). Did I feel a little guilty? Sure. Did that stop me from tweeting about it once I saw that the venue’s giant screens were set to scroll through posts related to the night’s concert? Nope! I informed the entire Merriweather Post Pavilion lawn that I was “All merched up,” and gleefully watched the post scroll by a handful of times. The other tweets were far more entertaining, though. Post after post of hipsters making fun of other hipsters. It was a sight to behold — through thick-rimmed glasses, of course. While I can’t condone my merch-first-ask-questions-later approach to money management, I can wholeheartedly endorse the music I picked up. Panda Bear’s single is fantastic (as is the rest of the album) and Fall Be Kind is one of the best EPs I’ve ever heard. Check out “What Would I Want? Sky,” which is historic, in that it features the first licensed sample of a Grateful Dead song, and grab the album here.
Special Two-Part Coverage of the Most Hipster Thing I’ll Do All Summer Part 1: Expectations and Ogres
Hipsters love irony. Defying expectations is central to this most sub- of sub-cultures, so it’s no surprise (or is it?) that before I even made it to Animal Collective’s show at Merriweather Post Pavilion, I was already immersed in a complicated web of dashed preconception. Let’s do some untangling. The members of Animal Collective all have roots in the Baltimore area, yet they’d never played at Merriweather Post Pavilion, even though it’s the venue that inspired the name of the band’s most recent (and most successful) album, an album that, according to an interview with band member Dave Portner, we wouldn’t be hearing much of, since Portner foretold that they’d be playing twelve songs, 70% of which would be new (not a round number), the newness of the songs being old news, since it’s fairly well known that Animal Collective prefers testing new and evolving material on the road over the traditional practice of playing mainly tunes from previous albums. Whew. And I thought ogres had layers. All of this knowing so much and so little at the same time had me over-the-moon excited about the concert, and all hipster jokes aside, it was an incredible experience. There I was at a concert where the whole audience is participating in an exercise of shared discovery. Since most of the songs are works in progress, not even the most stalkery, show-taping, YouTube-searching superfan knows for sure what will happen. It brings to mind that moment you see in Victorian period pieces, when the foppish audience either dispassionately claps or roars in approval after the premiere of a composer’s latest symphony. I felt sublimely lucky to be there, watching one of the greatest bands in the world make beautiful music that’s creative in every sense of the word. Check out one of the songs the band did play off Merriweather Post Pavilion, called “Brother Sport,” and download the album here.