Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Paintings from this Semester

"Self-Portrait from 1995/1996"
oil on canvas, 3'x4'

"Double Self-Portrait"
oil on canvas 3'x4'

Merriweather Post Pavillion - Animal Collective

Take a song like "My Girls" from Animal Collective's new album and listen to it at absurdly loud levels on a good system. Most people, with exceptions to metal heads, would likely get into this catchy, trippy (as much as I despise the word), bordering-techno song. There's lots of bass, repeated loops, clapping, interesting sound effects and relaxing vocals. It's easy to dance to. But, one would have a terribly hard time finding another song that sounds even remotely similar to this one from another artist.
Now take a song like "Who Could Win a Rabbit" from Sung Tongs. This is probably one of the most happy, upbeat songs of good quality that I've ever heard. Again, there's lots of clapping, and sound effects such as whips. But this song has much more of a campfire, honest feel to it. This song has no bass or crazy synth loops. Just an acoustic guitar with sort of obnoxious strumming and quick, mostly indecipherable lyrics sung by young men. I'd have to say that this song is also one of the most "typical" songs they've recorded, being that it's so simple and sticks to common music-writing standards. It's in a normal time signature. It's still a great song, though. Other older songs of theirs, such as "Banshee Beat" or "Grass" are less typical in my mind because of their vague time signature or sudden bursts of sound or repeated loops that could sound like the CD is skipping. One might envision these guys as being young and dressed in animal outfits with masks on. That they are.
Nonetheless, Animal Collective has changed drastically since Sung Tongs until MPP in the 9 years since they began recording. The question is - have they changed for the worse, or for the better? I believe it's too hard to say - the sounds are too different. Only the repeated loops and their 'animalistic' or 'natural' sound still exists in their music. They changed in the way that Radiohead has since Kid A through In Rainbows, and how the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have since Fever To Tell through It's Blitz! I personally despise It's Blitz! and In Rainbows has it's great songs and it's terrible songs. All these bands are leaving their original sounds and turning to dance, synth, loud bass. It's a wonder where they'll go after this genre dies out.
I enjoy all of Animal Collective's albums the same. Depending on my mood, I'll listen to a different album. I do believe that they are the modern day John Cage in music, but I'm curious as to whether as many artists will follow them as did Cage. Right now I can only say that Cloud Cult tries way too hard to be them.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009