Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper has us in heaven. It’s Noah Lennox’s most accessible album thus far, yet it’s as strange and unique as anything he’s done. I first heard “Boys Latin” on edibles in Joshua Tree at his excellent show at Pappy & Harriet’s with Peaking Lights, and that rainbow vocal pastiche has been swimming through my brain ever since. The other single, “Mr Noah,” is more of a grower, but I love the way its groans into life and pulsates like a live animal. You’ve got songs like “Principe Real,” which is like this Wonderland funk track, bouncing on handclaps and cartoonish organs. A lot of the in-between songs are as beautiful as you might guess. “Crossword” is heartfelt and gorgeous, along the lines of a certain song he wrote for Animal Collective, “My Girls.” “Come to Your Senses” swirls with slithering, shaking sounds, but percolating guitars and synths carry strong melodies to take you through it. And “Tropic of Cancer” is a Beach Boys-inspired oceanic ode that crests on beautiful harp and digital whispers. Panda Bear’s work has always been inspiring, but Grim Reaper sees Lennox shedding any kind of shyness present in his previous releases. It’s a beautifully made, all-embracing piece of experimental pop music, and one of the best releases of early 2015.
In celebration of the release of the new album by Panda Bear (aka Noah Lennox), Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, we’ve put together this handy guide to releases by Animal Collective, of which Panda Bear is a member, and releases by Animal Collective’ individual members.
For the uninitiated, Baltimore-born Animal Collective have been one of the most consistently challenging and rewarding bands of the 2000s. Made up of Lennox, Avey Tare (David Portner), Deakin (Josh Dibb) and Geologist (Brian Weitz), Animal Collective have released nine studio albums and many EPs, collaborations and one-offs. Meanwhile, Lennox and Portner have several releases each (both solo and, in Portner’s case, as a collaborator). Though their music has varied quite a bit from release to release, the band has drawn upon elements of folk, afropop, avant-garde music, noise and psychedelia for a sample and synth-heavy concoction that defies typical genre trappings.
Here’s a list of the band’s releases, in chronological order:
Somewhat of a solo record by Avey Tare, with Lennox on drums (first released under the name Avey Tare and Panda Bear), Spirit actually better portrays the melodicism that would come to mark later Animal Collective releases than those that immediately followed, full of fluttering acoustic guitars and sparkling synths, with the occasional feedback drones and Portner’s shriek interrupting the reverie. Also notable for being the first thing released on the band’s Animal label, now known as Paw Tracks.
The year’s coming to a close, and it’s time to look ahead. There are already several sure-to-be great albums on the horizon. You can already preorder the ones below.
Out Jan. 13
Experimental pop auteur and Animal Collective member Panda Bear aka Noah Lennox is back with his fifth solo album and first in four years. Like his last album, Tomboy, it’s co-produced by Peter Kember, and it features two songs that have already been premiered, the woozy “Mr Noah” and mind-bending “Boys Latin,” for which you can watch the mesmerizing video below. “Mr Noah” has been already released on a four-song EP of the same name, which includes three more songs; those three extra songs will also be available on the deluxe editions of the album.
Aaron Detroit, Buyer at Amoeba Hollywood. As you may know, I've worked in Hollywood for 8 years, but started my time with Amoeba - way back in 1998 - at the San Francisco store. This is my extensive list of 2011 releases that I fell in love with or had hot and heavy affairs with this year.
- Wild Beasts Smother
In 2008, Brit quartet Wild Beasts released their shaky-legged -but- stunning debut, Limbo Panto. In the four years since, the band has released two thoroughly dazzling masterpiece full-lengths of deceptively delicate indie rock, lyrically bent towards looking in the dark recesses of the heart and libido, largely sung by co-vocalist Hayden Thorpe in his trademark falsetto. Smother finds the band adding a new restraint to their arrangements that allows the tension in the lyrics to hit with hair-on-end chills. It is a singular LP by a singular band that I expect will eventually reach a Radiohead-level stratosphere.
April is turning out to be a fantastic month for music! I think some of my favorite albums of the year are probably going to be taken from this month and the next. Two of my fave bands, The Kills & The Raveonettes, both have new albums out April 5th! It is almost too much to handle at once -- too much of a good thing. It has been hard to decide which to listen to but I really have been hitting up both of these albums at least once every day; I even listened to the new Raveonettes album three times in one day! I can't get enough. The Raveonettes have already been around for 10 years, even though it seems like just yesterday that I first heard about them. Their first album, Chain Gang of Love, was released in the US in 2003. I still think they have one of the best names. They are dark and a bit spooky, like a Raven, and sometimes they sound like one of your old favorite girl groups from the 60s -- somebody with a band name that would end in "ettes." Raven in the Grave is the group's fifth album. Over the years I have liked all of their albums to varying degrees but this new album is something fantastic and I can't get the songs out of my head. There don't seem to be as many bands coming out of Denmark as there are from Sweden and Norway (where many of my favorites come from). I don't really get why. The Raveonettes are pretty much alone in being from Denmark...along with Mew and Lars from Metallica, I guess. I love this entire new album but I have my favorite tracks, of course. Here are two of them. If you have not yet fallen in love with The Raveonettes you simply should not wait any longer. The time has come...