80 per cent lame, idiotic or just pretentious music! That’s us, and a heartwarmingly lively response to yesterday’s blog on the Animal Collective’s new album, which I’m now starting to think is their best album. Someone on the blog wondered when this excellent band would make their definitive album: I think, with “Merriweather Post Pavilion”, they just have.
Another view on the record was posted yesterday at this blog by Andy Beta. A lot of good points here, I think, especially the reference to ecstasy (which I alluded to in my piece, but thought might have been a bit of a gauche extrapolation; glad someone else picked it up, too) which seems at its most striking in the opening “In The Flowers”. Or is that a reductive take on a song which seems to tackle the liberating act of dancing? As he says, there is definitely something of “Loveless” and “Screamadelica” spiritually here, and I’ve sharpened up some of my techno references a little: The Field, Superpitcher, Knights Of The Jaguar. Amazing record.
A couple of nice things, quickly, today. The first is “More Of The Past”, an EP from Vetiver, which seems ostensibly to be an appendix to their “Thing Of The Past” covers LP from earlier this year. I found that album a bit underwhelming, though I’m not sure why, but this EP works pretty nicely.
Maybe because it neatly – and no doubt consciously – avoids most of the acid-folk tropes that still hover round Andy Cabic, thanks chiefly to his involvement with Devendra Banhart (Banhart, if memory serves, used to play in Vetiver part-time). Here, Cabic comes over a bit like a wayward Everly Brother on “Hey Doll Baby” and “Before The Sun Goes Down”. . . No surprise, since I’ve just googled “Hey Doll Baby” and discovered that it actually was an Everly Brothers song. Yay me.
The prevailing vibe, then, is vaguely old-timey country, which infects even a Todd Rundgren song, “Just To Have You”, if not AR Kane’s “Miles Apart”. One of Cabic’s greatest strengths has been an ability to convey a sort of laidback warmth to his music, and it works very well with these songs. There’s a real danger that projects like this can degenerate into what is ostensibly cratedigger one-upmanship, with obscurantism winning out over what I’d rather not, but feel compelled to call ‘feel’. No worries on that score here.
Also, I’ve had this very decent album by Brad Barr called “The Fall Apartment: Instrumental Guitar” for a while, which is well worth a listen. Barr is one of Tompkins Square’s stable of New American Primitives, collected on their mighty “Imaginational Anthems” comps. And while he’s not quite on the level of, say, James Blackshaw or Peter Walker or Max Ochs (whose unlikely new album arrived the other day, and is due for a write-up in the next week or two), this is still an entirely beguiling set of solo guitar. Not least because of that rarest beast, the useful Nirvana cover – “Heart Shaped Box” turned into a spidery, hesitant acoustic reverie.