good, but needs red wine and cannabis

A long blog today, about nothing but music. Well, to be fair, also kinda about my insecurities and fancies and fears of growing older. But, on the surface – today’s all about music.

The online chatter over the almost-all-the-way-leaked new Animal Collective album, Strawberry Jam, is reaching a fever pitch on the blogs ‘n’ boards. Six of the nine tracks have now leaked, and, to use a stereogumism, the “premature evaluation” is in full-swing. Most of the indie-kids seem to be likening it to the Second Coming, or some other such event of holy import. I’ve heard all six tracks (interested?), and I’m still undecided…

In fact, being honest about it – I have never been able to really “get” Animal Collective.

I was telling Ben the other day that, in the midst of all this Strawberry Jam hype, I was spurred to re-download the Collective’s 2005 effort, which was nearly universally lauded in the indie-rock world when it came out. I downloaded it then, and dismissed it as a little too “out there” for my tastes. I could live with the decision, it’s not like my tastes have to run with the crowd.

Then, Animal Collective member Panda Bear released a solo album, also the recipient of a coordinated mass-jizzing-upon by the critics. Of course, I downloaded that Panda Bear album, and tried… and I mean tried, to get into it. But, despite my best efforts, it was, again, just too far out for me. This was a tad worrisome, as I began to think I was somehow missing the boat… what was happening to me?

I don’t know if you have to be on acid to “get” these records or what, but I just can’t seem to connect with them on the level that the “other kids” do. Sometimes I feel like this means I’m getting old. Secretly, I have this huge fear that there’ll come a day when I just can’t understand “the kids’ music” anymore. I, in fact, live in unspoken (until now) terror of that day – when I realize that the “cool new stuff” that I think I’m still hip for being into is really just a bunch of trite recycling of the music I grew up on – and the real cutting edge is the junk I dismiss as artsy-freak-rock. The day when music moves on, and I’m stuck on a sound that’s decades old.

So, here I am again, once again listening to the old Animal Collective album, and the Panda Bear album, trying as I might to find their merits.

Don’t think I don’t realize that this, in and of itself, as a technique, runs a close second to the sin of losing touch with what’s cool. Desperately sprinting after the bandwagon is something I’m not really used to… but the motivating fear that I’m losing touch with what’s good is enough to make me think twice, and somehow wonder that maybe these albums are kinda like beer to a thirteen year-old (if you don’t know what I mean, I’ve tired to explain it before: 3rd paragraph here). So, I’ve done two thorough listens over the past couple days.

Sometimes, I even think I’ve got it figured out – like I can finally hear what the fuss is all about. I mean – lately I’ve been thinking that I actually dig the Panda Bear’s Person Pitch. At times I even thing I hear snatches of brilliance and beauty, like I could really fall in love with it if I had some red wine and cannabis.

But then, I second-guess my newfound affection and worry that I’m just kidding myself. Even now, I don’t know what would happen if I really did start liking it, I’m not sure I’d even be able to trust my own judgment. I mean, I wouldn’t put it past me to lie to myself so I’d feel cooler.

Guess I’m hopelessly old. Please excuse me while I put on the old familiar friend that is the Eagles’ Greatest Hits and make myself a bloody mary… shit.

But on the reals, before I move on, do me a favor and go download that Panda Bear album and give it a spin – see if you can validate me or not. It kinda kicks ass, right? It’s kinda gorgeous, right? Transfixing and hypnotic and intriguing, right? But, then, it’s kinda way-out obtuse and confusing, right? A little dense and repetitive, right? If you’re the red wine and cannabis type, try it like that too – and let me know if it “opens any doors,” OK? Thanks, I’ll be anxiously awaiting your findings.

Seriouslyforrealtho, I really do think the missing “ingredient” in this album is drugs… not kidding. Who wants to be my sitter while I try and find out?

OK, enough of that. More music…

It’s hard to believe that something as disjointed and relatively incomprehensible as this could make me any more anxious for Radiohead’s 7th LP – but it totally has. On the internet’s best source of pirate tunes, “LP7” tops the request list, the most asked-for and anticipated album of the close-knit community of music-loving thieves. I know you can’t really tell much from the audio on that video clip, but I like to think I can hear proof of yet another masterpiece.

To close this out, I’ll mention that I’m hard at work on my second annual half-year best-of list. Yeah, get in line now.


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