Friday, September 14, 2012

Best Batch of Follow-Ups

A number of bands that had well-regarded records in the last few years have recently released new albums, their firsts since their big records.  Here are little reviews on those records:

Animal Collective — Centipede Hz

At first I thought I liked this record a lot, but then I read the reviews and realized I was wrong.  Just kidding!  Pitchfork (and the AV Club) can go jump in a lake, I dig Centipede Hz.  While none of its songs are nearly as good as the standout songs on Merriweather Post Pavillion (For me: In the Flowers, My Girls, Summertime Clothes, Bluish, Brothersport) BUT Centipede Hz doesn't have any songs on it that I'd rather skip than put up with, whereas MPP does (Also Frightened, Taste, No More Runnin).  So in a way, they're kind of equal for me.  Merriweather Post Pavillion is for when I want to hear a few perfect songs, Centipede Hz is for when I want to listen to a whole record.

Dirty Projectors — Swing Lo Magellan

Bitte Orca, the record Swing Lo Magellan follows up on, was a hit I never could stand.  On a good day I'm down with one track (Stillness is the Move, obvs) so trust me I'm surprised that I fell for Swing Lo Magellan.  Big time.  Took a few listens, but I kept wanting to listen, not throw it out the window.  And now barely a day goes by that I don't listen to it all the way through (perk of a earphone-intensive deskjob) and, between listens, find different songs from it hanging out in my brain.  Were I to recommend one record of these four the most, it would be this one.

The xx — Coexist

The first xx hit me, as it did many others, like a very quiet hammer.  I'd never heard anything like it and couldn't stop listening to it.  Now they've got a new record and face the problem faced by bands with a super distinctive sound: Do you keep making that sound and risk people saying "This sounds just like their other record" or do you switch it up a bit and risk people saying "They went off in another direction and it just didn't work."  My reactions to listening to this record, so far:

1.  "Do we really need another xx record?  I don't know . . ."
2.  "No, actually this is pretty great.  They have a sound and it works for them."
3.  "Wait, no.  Forget that.  This is silly, this is the exact same thing.  People are going to start making fun of how these guys sing, if they don't already.  And what's this?  Steel drums?"
4.  "Actually . . . no.  This might be a really good record?"

If you'd like, you're welcome to come along take this back and forth journey with me.

Grizzly Bear — Shields

I think we can always count on these dudes to release a quality product.  I wouldn't have had to listen to this whole record to give you that review.  But I did.  And this record is dang good.  Very easy to love, you will like it a lot.  And that's why I made Swing Lo Magellan my recommended record.  You don't need me to tell you to check Shields out.  You'll hear it and like it a lot on your own.  Oh, and there's this one song, "A Simple Answer"?  Forget it.  So good.


Brother said...

Couldn't agree more with the Centipede Hz observations. I keep on reading reviews for this album and think "are they listening to the same record?" The album is a brilliant step forward for their sound. It is a easy comparison to make but it is their Kid A to their OK Computer.

savoury toothed tiger said...

I've also been steadily listening to swing low sweet dirty projectors and can report that it is listenable all the way through every other day in my truck and i still want it around.