Hair Cutter by Animal Collective - 2018 Playlist

3. Hair Cutter - Animal Collective

★★☆☆

Anyone in here an ODDSAC fan? Back in 2010 I paid 20 USD to have a copy of the Animal Collective visual album on DVD, and subsequently paid another 50 USD in customs and FedEx fees. Was it worth it? Yes, obviously. It came with a poster! As a nineteen-year-old it was also just about as monumental as seeing the release of 2001: A Space 2001. Dare I say, for millennial indie-heads of the early oughts, it might’ve the single most important visual piece of our young lives. My best friend and I watched it a loooot.

When Tangerine Reef dropped I was, needless to say, hyped. A few weeks prior, AnCo released the single Hair Cutter which is apparently a tune about developing a directionless crush on your hairdresser. I immediately threw it onto my current rotation on Spotify and headed up to Algonquin with a few friends for the weekend. When it came time on the road trip to contribute my music to the car, I anticipated this song and made sure to skip it. Why? Animal Collective at their best make catchy weirdo pop, at their normal make near-senseless, droning soundscapes, and at their worst make ears bleed (Thanks Avey). But don’t get me wrong, all of the above are good, but perhaps not all crowd-pleasers. 

The thing everyone* needs to know about Animal Collective is that they are not a band who are fundamentally listenable. As an AnCo fan, you are generally subject to years of neglect to be rewarded with albums like 2012’s Centipede Hz *eye-roll*. But every now and again, you get a Sung Tongs, a Fall Be Kind, or a Strawberry Jam. Heck, even 2017’s Meeting of the Waters was fairly chill. And I’ll be (not) the first to point out that core member Panda Bear is a crucial element to the listenability of popular AnCo records. Whom is Tangerine Reef missing? You guessed it. I can’t speak exactly to what Panda is doing instead, probably out touring a great album that he refuses to release on any streaming services…ahem.

But I digress, in truth I believe that Tangerine Reef *is* good. And to give Avey (and Deakin and Geo) some credit, he came back down to earth from Slasher Flicks so hard that it appears he crash-landed in the ocean! Jokes aside, it is important to note with this very complicated band, that one will surely be led astray by having expectations from the four-or-three-or-sometimes-two-piece. Nonetheless, this song Hair Cutter, leading into the album is one of the only real SONGS, which is why I chose it for the playlist. This album is primarily the soundtrack for the video collaboration between Animal Collective and Coral Morphologic (the groups previously met at an ODDSAC screening). Watch the film if you have an hour. It’s visually stunning, and nothing like anything AnCo have participated in before. At some points it’s disturbingly grotesque, and at others its some form of uncanny-valley-esque sea creature choreography. There are several points in the film that drew scary parallels to the human choreography performed by the Brooklyn dance crew, FLEX in Summertime Clothes, and even hints of the animation in My Girls! All this neon under the 1080p Planet Earth documentary-style veil? Seems David Attenborough went a little too hard in the paint on this one (sorry I’ll stop).


*referring to the general public, not strange people like me.


You can listen to my 2018 year-in-review playlist here.


Effervescent Island by Angelo de Augustine - 2018 Playlist

2. Effervescent Island - Angelo de Augustine 

★★★★☆

Effervescent Island follows the title track on the EP Carcassonne, which was released on June 29, 2018. Self-produced, the two track EP was released by Asthmatic Kitty Records AKA Sufjan Steven’s label. With Suf’s affiliation, you know it’s going to be good. Augustine has released two LPs since 2014, including Swim Inside the Moon, also with Asthmatic Kitty, which, TBH, I have yet to give an honest spin. Though I’ll be adding his earlier works to my ‘to listen’ list because, if you know me, this is the type of music I tend to lap right up: slow, stripped down, and with annunciated whispering vocals painting a cozy soundscape. 

As of this moment, I have missed his Toronto show at the Drake by about a week :(. Hopefully the EP is hinting at some upcoming new music and subsequent tour and he’ll be back again. Considering how quickly the tour commenced surrounding the summer release, my bet is that this Augustine is a veteran on the road. 

The song itself gives me ASMR-feelings. The production work on Augustine’s vocals is minimal and concise. The intimacy of the whispered layered vocals with guitar and piano on Carcassonne and E.I. respectively gives me both the warm fuzzies and shivers simultaneously. There’s a glottal quality to both tracks to which the title track owes its sentimentality, while E.I. owes its mysteriousness. Lyrically, E.I. reads like a search for pleasures in love and discovery, pronounced acutely by its careful cadence.


You can listen to my 2018 year-in-review playlist here.


Severed by Decemberists - 2018 Playlist

1. Decemberists – Severed

★★★★

This was the very first song to catch my attention this year. Apparently it was also the first song of the year to garner a ticket sale from me as well. My Ticketmaster receipt is dated the day after this single’s release! Colin Meloy has stated that their album I’ll Be Your Girl was in some ways a reaction to the 2016 US election; if the video for Severed wasn’t enough of a hint. If you haven’t seen it, you can *probably* guess that a certain orangey-hued demagogue plays a prominent role. The video itself is like a mash-up between Young Folks (still slaps) and a Monty Python collage animation, but featuring the band’s decapitation by the aforementioned Cheeto.

I’m gonna be honest here, up until recently I had no idea what this song is about, and I didn’t care. And though my instincts would normally thrust me into the political discourse surrounding any content, this time I just wanna talk about the tune. There will be pleeenty more leftist shouting from me further down the list (forewarning). I was simply intrigued by the band’s transition from traditional folk instrumentation to their heavy experimental synth use (no doubt inspired by the album’s producer, John Congelton). While some purists may say nay to this creative side-step, I challenge any Decemberists’ concert-goer to NOT dance to this tune. Danceable indeed, all whilst the theatrical lyricism of Meloy takes on this uncharacteristically aggressive, and dare I say, punk tone. As we millenials may remember from the Bush presidency, the best art comes from political unrest. My hope in this small solace is that the art too has the power to disseminate anti-fascist rhetoric on new ears.

Sorry, I mean it’s dancey. Yeah, dancey. I was certainly satisfied with that element in May when I went down to the Sony Centre to see the band perform. This song’s danceability, as well as the rest of the album, hinges on an unusual but iconizable element of repetition. Severed, as well as Once In My Life lack the general ambling characteristic of Meloy’s lyricism. I noticed this trend amplified in the release of Everything Now by indie cousins, Arcade Fire, half a year earlier. Now, at first, I’ll admit with both albums, the repetition felt lazy. But now—six months and a year later, respectively—these two albums have been effectively drilled (read, brainwashed) into my head. Good thing? Sure, if you’re on the side of indie-folk-rock-alternative success. Effective as propaganda? Had they fallen on more attentive ears, apparently/maybe. Either way I’m sure to remember this music for the rest of my life.


You can listen to my 2018 year-in-review playlist here.


2018 Playlist

If you happen to know me well (or have ever sat down with me for any length of time), you would likely know that I spend a lot of time thinking about great songs and the bands that make them. Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve been making playlists that help define a specific mood, time, or place. I was naming them after my boyfriends or ideas I was trying to trace; things like ‘pace’ and ‘wave’ and ‘Andrew’ (LOL).

Last year I made my very first year-in-review playlist on Spotify and wrote about it on Facebook. This year I’ve been doing the same, but I’ve made it into a year long project instead of a December-ditch-effort. I’m going to try to post regularly on this blog about the new releases I come across, and the ones that I’ve already had on heavy rotation. If you want to hear the playlist in its working stage you can listen to it here.

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