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Home » The Breakdown: Animal Collective, Black Francis, Elvis Costello, Cloud Cult, Pinback, Pink Floyd, Qui

The Breakdown: Animal Collective, Black Francis, Elvis Costello, Cloud Cult, Pinback, Pink Floyd, Qui

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Holy crap, what a week! Better start saving your money now – Christmas is a-comin' and things aren't going to let up much until around Thanksgiving. But that's a good thing for us music-freaks, isn't it? Maybe not good for our wallets, but good for our ears and collections…

Animal Collective – Strawberry Jam: For whatever reason, I kind of see Animal Collective paired with Liars in terms of audience and even style. Both make their minimal instrumental skills a focus of their music, letting their lack of experience guide them to sounds and styles that more trained musicians might never attempt. Sure, it's messy and sloppy, but the results are often so charming it's hard to resist falling for the weird music.

Black Francis – Bluefinger: Frank Black is dead, long live Black Francis. Or maybe he's just resting. I don't know, honestly, why the change back to his Pixies-era moniker, but it doesn't really matter. Black has turned out the best solo album since his first couple of solo albums, and it's equally as strong and catchy a piece of work as either his self-titled Frank Black, or Teenager of the Year. There might be a little more Pixies-derived attitude here than either of those, but, really, does it matter? It's a hell of a fun album that should make both Pixies and Black fans very happy.

Elvis Costello – My Aim is True Deluxe Edition: I think Costello fans are getting mighty tired of these reissues – despite having significant, fan-worthy additions, it's hard to fathom buying yet another version. This one, however, really is pretty awesome. You'll be able to keep your Rhino 2-disc version because the second disc here consists of a never-before-released 23-track live show from August, 1977, while disc one packs some of the demos from the previous version, (including four that have never been released in any form).

You can balk all you want, but you have to admit that at least they made this a pretty enticing Deluxe Edition.

Cloud Cult – Advice from the Happy Hippopotomas: This previously out of print 2005 album is reportedly "an in-depth look at the fine line between life and death; on the realization that mortality is an unavoidable truth" (stolen from the Amazon description.) I'm going to have to take their word on that, never having heard this album, but I can say that the band's 2007 offering, The Meaning of 8, is a complete surprise – a wonderful, weird, exciting album that never seems afraid to take unexpected leaps into as much territory as they can possibly cover. Descriptions of the band's sound point at The Flaming Lips and Modest Mouse, but very emotional and environmentally-minded. It's powerful music, and the band is keenly aware that they could probably garner a lot of attention if they went with a major label. Instead, they've opted to keep their lives simple by remaining on the label they started. Cool band – do check them out.

Pinback – Autumn of the Seraphs: I have meant for ages to check out Pinback, having really liked what I've heard from them the few times I've run across them playing in record stores, but I never got around to it. This might be the time. Fans of smart indie-pop like Death Cab for Cutie and Minus the Bear should keep this one in mind. Oh, and be sure and pick up a copy soon – the first pressing includes a bonus disc with a few extra songs. (I really like this trend – it is officially Breakdown-endorsed.)

Pink Floyd – The Piper at the Gates of Dawn Deluxe Edition: How many people did Capitol Records trick by releasing the two-disc stereo/mono version of this last week? I'm sure there are some who don't obsess over new-release lists who are going to walk into their favorite music store sometime soon and see this lush, extravagant three-disc version (the third disc is b-sides and unreleased material) and be a bit pissed. This is the version to have – not only does it have the three discs, it also boasts a big book filled with notes and lots of Syd Barret's original art. If you're buying this, you're likely a big fan, so why would anyone not want this version?

Qui – Love's Miracle: It's about friggin' time – ex-Jesus Lizard front man David Yow finally got off the couch he's been on for most of a decade and joined another band. Yow fans might be a bit surprised to hear the man actually singing on "Apartment," but he's doing so against a decidedly Jesus Lizard worthy backdrop. Seriously, do I need to describe this? Just hit their myspace page for some clips. Jesus Lizard fans are going to swarm the record stores this week to pick this up. I'm pretty anxious to hear their takes on Zappa's "Willie the Pimp" and Pink Floyd's "Echoes."

Now get out there and spend.

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About Tom Johnson

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    As if my wallet didn’t already hurt enough from having to shell out $170. for Neil Young tickets (the pre-sale is tommorrow — and thats just for my ticket).

    Oh well, such is the life of the umm, music “enthusiast” (I refuse to use the term “freak,” I’m already damaged enough).

    Thanx Tom. Yeah, thanx a bunch.

    -Glen

  • http://www.marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    dang, i have to admit to being totally behind the game with Frank Black. dunno why i don’t get the discs. it’s like with Bob Mould… i see one and think, eh, maybe next week. then, months down the road, i pick it up and wanna kill myself for wasting all of that time that i could have been listening.

  • http://www.lookoutforhope.com Tom Johnson

    Glen, I feel your pain – maybe not for tickets, but just for the general quality and number of releases lately. I can’t keep up!

    Mark, I think, knowing your interests, you’d really like the Frank-Black-Francis discs I mentioned above. He’s a bit spottier through the rest of his solo career, but these three albums are super quality stuff. (Shhh – don’t tell the Pixies fans, but I like these three albums more than anything the Pixies did!)

  • zingzing

    “Both [liars and animal collective] make their minimal instrumental skills a focus of their music, letting their lack of experience guide them to sounds and styles that more trained musicians might never attempt.”

    ok. while i admire your taste (and it does seem to be good), i have to say that you seem to mistake both liars and animal collective for amateurs… Both groups are absolute instrumental wizards, and it doesn’t come from a lack of experience. quite the contrary actually.

    the guitarist from liars studied under lamont young. he may use minimalism, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know any better. and the fact that he uses minimalism to create such maximalism (or whatever) should clue you into the fact that he knows exactly what he is doing. the drummer is likewise a wonder of timing and flourish and skill.

    animal collective… they may have a childlike innocence about them, but it doesn’t come from inexperience. one listen to “spirit they’re gone” ought to tell you just how amazing they are as players. seeing them live will only reinforce this notion, as it is obvious that they know exactly where they are going looooong before the audience does.

    i’m not knocking you or the idea that inexperience can lead to great things. being too good at your instrument can lead you into stagnation. but! it’s not always the case, and i think liars and animal collective are proof that sometimes virtuosity doesn’t lead down boring paths.

    so i’m just wondering why you think they don’t know how to play… when everything i’ve seen points squarely in the other direction…?

  • http://www.marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    i’m pretty sure he does it just to piss you off.

  • http://www.lookoutforhope.com Tom Johnson

    I never said they were amateurs – you’re putting words, or a word, at least, in my mouth, zingzing. I am fully aware that people can be lacking in skills on instruments and yet still create magic. There are plenty of people who don’t realize this and think that what they take as random banging and clanging is just that – random – but who, given the same items to work with, couldn’t produce anything even remotely musical. We’ve both been here long enough that I’m sure you know that about me.

    As for being “taught by Lamont Young,” I’ll have to take your word for it as I can find no information about his students. Regardless, they play as if they have no actual recognizable instrument skills. I’m usually pretty good at picking out people who truly have skills-a-plenty and simply choose to not utilize them and those who really don’t, and I’m not getting that vibe from either band. I’m going to stick by my original assessment, but modify it especially for you: they aren’t particularly skilled instrument players but that doesn’t limit them from being good musicians who make intriguing music. I think you’re taking my original description of their skills waaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy too seriously.

    On a side note, I’m not really quite sure how you learn minimalist skills from someone else. “Here, don’t play this”? Or, “You play this for a long time, and I’ll play something else”?

  • zingzing

    oh my. ok. lookie. i’m not taking you too seriously. it’s not that i wouldn’t… it’s just that i don’t think you put it the best way.

    minimalism is a technique, like anything else. when i say that the guy from liars studied under young, it doesn’t mean he learned how to play an instrument from him. it means he’s learning technique. someone who doesn’t know jack about playing certainly doesn’t study minimalism under lamont young. as far as my sources go, i got it directly from him, while i was very drunk, after a show in north carolina (during the they were wrong tour). i’m not one for dropping names, so you’ll just have to trust me on this one. i’ve never heard it in interviews or anywhere else… it must have been something he was doing at the time. it certainly showed up on their next album.

    all i’m saying is that the guy is an amazing musician and that even if he doesn’t play in any way that is traditionally amazing, well… he’s still amazing. and i know you know the difference. it’s just that i think he really can play very well… and that he knows exactly what he is doing.

    as far as animal collective goes… they are virtuosos. virtuosoes? virtuosi? whatever. they use their instruments in novel ways, that’s for sure, but that’s the best virtuosi…ty. it’s a funny word. can’t quite get my head around it.

    so, as far as the liars guy goes (both of them really), i can see where you can get the “minimal instrumental skills” bit… but i just don’t agree. i think he is restraining himself in some ways.

    but animal collective? damn man. their instrumental prowess is obvious. avey tare can play piano like a classical virtuoso. panda bear is an amazing drummer in almost any genre. anytime deacon plays, the sound manipulation gets ridiculous. their songs, compostionally and sound-wise, are just beyond sober belief.

    the only reason i take you to task for the statement is because i think it’s so wrong. i really wouldn’t bother if i thought you had no clue. i just think you are mistaken.

    there is my blathering. look back upon it and marvel at the amount.