Animal Collective: a band that just keeps getting better. - Oh My Rockness

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Animal Collective: a band that just keeps getting better.

January 16, 2009
I'll admit that whenever a band is labeled an "enigmatic collective," my immediate reaction is to feign fear and shudder, "Oooh, spooky!" Maybe it's just my own neurosis, but bands branded as cryptic really bother me. Bands aren't supposed to be enigmatic, they're supposed to be rock stars (that's why they play for an audience on something called a 'stage'). I think it started when I saw the ever-mysterious Black Heart Procession a few years back at the Knitting Factory and singer Paul Jenkins was wearing all black and donning sunglasses. Oooh, spooky!

But in the case of Animal Collective, I don't mind their obscure guise (as they breathe a huge collective sigh of relief at a website writer's validation). Animal Collective's secretiveness is a whimsical game that perfectly fits their playfully experimental music. There's just a fundamental difference between wearing sunglasses at night and a group with members answering to names like Panda Bear, Avey Tare and Geologist. Now that's cool.

Perhaps a more spiritual, but just as innovative, version of their friends Black Dice, NYC's Animal Collective take a cerebral approach to the craft of screwing sounds up. A collective in the truest sense (they have so many shifting members if they all got together they would have to tour in Noah's boat), Animal Collective play experimental psychedelic folk that is anything but ordinary. They often weave off-kilter vocals above simple guitars and sparse tribal percussion. The band seeks the sublime by capturing the bizarreness of the basic. Incorporating tribal chants, grunts and beats, Animal Collective connects the L train to the rest of the world. Their unique, stripped-down sound is a true sonic experience, and is further proof that "rock" music is anything but a definable genre.

This band takes fragments of sound, twist them up, tie them together, and create beautiful pop melodies you've never heard before. They incite mysterious transcendence without the aid of sunglasses or the color black. Talk about rocking without a crutch.

The band just released their latest record, "Merriweather Post Pavilion" and, though it's plenty early, it seriously might be the best album of 2009. You've never heard anything like it before.


Animal Collective play the Metro, on Thursday, January 22nd.


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