Listed: Animal Collective + The National
As far as peers and influences go, aside from the aforementioned, Animal Collective’s sprawl could perhaps be located alongside fellow American contemporaries such as Black Dice, Lightning Bolt and Jewelled Antler Collective; elsewhere, the digital noise & texturings of the Mego label; the freak-outs of ‘90s west coast isolationists like Caroliner and Sun City Girls; the minimalist post-techno structures of Kompakt; or back to '70’s European commune-music utopians like Amon Duül, Harvester, Can, and similar folk-psychedelic explorers; with the organic looseness of the best of the free and improvised music world. But despite this, it is Animal Collective’s natural affinity with pop music that makes up the crux of their sound. Whilst they may recall the likes of Barrett, early Bowie, Ray Davies or Arthur Lee, it’s without ever aping them or sounding retro. And most of all, in whatever guise they assume, Animal Collective always manage to sound like no one but themselves – stunningly unique and resonating with a deeply committed self-belief.
1. Vashti Bunyan - Just Another Diamond Day – Child-like folk from the late 60's. This record never gets old. I think it might actually be perfect. Melodies that are almost uplifting and mournful at the same time...yet always very simple and catchy. It's also a very honest record. You can put it on at almost any time and it works. I like it best in the early morning. I listened to it recently while driving through Kansas as the sun was rising...so nice. It also happens to be a very good hangover cure.
2. African Brothers Dance Band (international) - s/t – This band is a rhythm machine. I've never heard so many layered Guitars sound so good before. I think there's three or four Guitar players in this group. Every instrument is in loop mode and every melody gets very hypnotic. The songs are also very pop-like and very catchy. It isn't in English which is a plus for me because I can focus on the voice as an instrument and there are two singers so the harmonies are amazing. I think it's from the mid-sixties but the sleeve is very non-descript. You must have this if you can find it.
3.Tornadoes - French EP collection – Joe Meek might have been the brain child behind this band but the musician ship is all there and very fun. I'm an obvious sucker for echo and delay and the guitars on these records definitely travel to space and back. But if there is a beach in space then these guys are definitely rockin' it. And yes Joe the Production is amazing even the cheesy space effects make me happy.
4. Nirvana - In Utero (Geffen) – Besides the fact that I think this record is recorded better than any almost any other Rock record it's also at times absolutely insane. It's so nice that a person can translate actual chaos into sound and mean it...no matter how sad that is.
6. Human League - Dare – Why was this band so popular? Does anyone else think this is weird? Everything is so cold and minimal. That's why I like it though. If any member of the "Electro Clash" movement could write songs this catchy that scene might actually be worthwhile (sorry that's mean).
7. Pavement - Westing (Drag City) – As much as I like a lot of this group's stuff, this is the CD I still listen to the most. I was never really a 7" person but Demolition Plot J-7 is amazing and flawless. Sweet Noise. Sweet Songs and a couple of dudes who sound like they're having lots of fun recording this stuff...what more can you ask for. I'm also a sucker for the fake name/ mysterious approach to music. The last Rock Band I really got into.
8. Incredible string Band - Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter – The first record I thought sounded better outside than in. It reminds me of being 16 and hanging out on back porches in Maryland. I don't play it much anymore but that may be cause in New York it just isn't the same and the fact that at the time I played it over and over again. No one else writes songs like these guys did and I think if anyone tried it just wouldn't work. I was really into the fact that the songs just went from part to part and didn't really repeat. Undeniably out there (way out there).
9. Terry Riley - Descending Moon Dervishes – I could listen to the perfect loop all day. This record has organ drones and tones that I never want to stop. After college I had to quit listening to sound oriented music (I will not use the E Word) for awhile because it just flat out bored me and I wanted to hear music that was fun. This record however makes me very happy and along side Folk Rabe might be my favorite drone piece.
10. Robert Ashley - Automatic Writing CD. – Voice voice voice. Oh the human voice and how it can be fucked with or simply just used in the barest of ways. This CD disturbs me but oh how I love all those voices. I never thought listening to a record of someone talking could be so captivating.
The National's five members all live in Brooklyn, but you would never guess it from the sounds of their newest album, Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers. These Cincinnati natives (which include two pairs of brothers), write and perform songs that are as introspective and morose as Leonard Cohen's, but which manifest themselves more like those of an alt-country Tindersticks. Singer Matt Berninger (the only band-member who lacks an in-band sibling) may appear to be the band's guiding power, but their greatest strength lies in the synergy created among brothers and best friends. Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers is now available on the equally fresh-faced Brassland Records, and The National will be touring extensively this fall. Bass player Aaron Dressner and singer Matt Berninger contributed to this week's list.
2. Leo Tolstoy - War and Peace – I spent last winter reading War and Peace. I went into it knowing that it is one of the "Great Books" - still, it was even greater than I could have imagined. If you like military history and intimate portraits of beautiful young Russian princesses – - this one is for you.
3. Bob Dylan - Time Out of Mind (Columbia) – My favorite of the recent Dylan albums – it sounds as good to me now as when I first heard it. Apparently Dylan does not like the "Swampy-Lanois" production on Time Out of Mind (or so he says) – he seems to be more proud of Love & Theft – but I think this album is more intimate and effective than L & T.
4. The Constantines – We played with these guys in Brooklyn randomly back in August 2001 (they were put on our show at North Six with David Grubbs last minute) and then we played with them again at Mercury Lounge in January 2002. They totally destroyed us both times – we were completely pulverized. It was a good experience and I think we may have learned a thing or two from them about how to pulverize. Their debut album is great ....better than the new one,Shine A Light, though that one is good, too.
6. Running on Empty – Sidney Lumet movie with River Phoenix as the son of 60's radicals on the run from the FBI. I watch it once a year for a short cry.
7. Russell Banks - Cloudsplitter – A novel about John Brown. I read it a few years ago and it's still in my head. It made everything else I was reading seem silly.
8. Ditmas Park, Brooklyn – Bryce and I moved into an old house out there with a wraparound porch. It's a strange old neighborhood out in southeast Brooklyn that feels more like Georgia than NY. In 1970 twelve parrots escaped from a container at JFK and settled there. They've raised families and done very well.
9. Boat – A bar in Brooklyn. Best bartenders I've known. I walk in the door and by the time I get to the bar my drink is waiting. I'll never take that for granted.
10. Neil Young - After the Goldrush (Reprise)
By Dusted Magazine