Album Review: Animal Collective – Fall Be Kind (Domino)

fall be kindHow can Animal Collective follow up on Merriweather Post Pavilion, and all the hype that came with it? Remember all of that? Everybody was gushing about how great it was going to be. The Web Sheriff roamed the internet and sent cease and desist orders to any blog that dare leak it, causing somebody to literally hack into Geologist’s e-mail account and write a fake e-mail saying the band wanted the whole thing out there so it could be properly heard as a full album. Eventually Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste got caught in the Sheriff’s crosshairs when he posted “Brother Sport” on his band’s blog and got involved in a strange internet battle that ended with him issuing an apology letter.  MT-frickin’-V.com wrote an article (there wasn’t enough Miley Cyrus news that day?) about how the vinyl might land on Billboard’s Albums Chart (it didn’t).

Then it finally came out. The CD version did, however, make the Billboard Albums Chart, and the band got caught up in a whirlwind of buzz and media attention that vaulted it to being one of the most talked about acts in indie rock, opening them up to a whole new audience. Some declared it the best album of 2009 back in January, and ever since it has been dissected and rebuilt by fans, bloggers, and critics alike. A contingent of the band’s older fans, including our own Nolan Conaway, lamented that the album lacked the same elements that caused them to fall in love with the band in the first place (more on this later).

That about brings us up to speed, where we now receive Fall Be Kind, a five-song EP comprised mostly of Merriweather-era leftovers. EPs are usually pretty insignificant when considering a band’s entire body of work, but Animal Collective has spent their entire career putting out EPs that sonically differentiate from the albums that preceded them while still remaining equally as challenging. Fall Be Kind is perhaps their best. And unlike most EPs released by any artist, this seems to have a natural flow and cohesion that make it far more than just a collection of what was lying around from the studio sessions.

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Live Review: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band @ 1st Mariner Arena (2009.11.20)

4123131752_cf4d2400c3Three songs into Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s blazing set at 1st Mariner Arena, Baltimore, a city that had not had a tour stop from the band in over three decades, got its catharsis. It’s customary for the crowd to sing the first verse of “Hungry Heart” at a Bruce show, but it felt especially poignant to hear this crowd, which had been passed over for so many years, sing “Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack [emphasis added].”

The next line, of course: “I went out for a ride, and I never went back.” Well, the long lost father finally returned on Friday night and offered up an incredible nearly-three-and-a-half-hour show as his penance. It was during “Hungry Heart” that Springsteen wandered out amongst his abandoned children and shook hands, took a big swig of a Miller Lite offered by a fan and belted out part of the song while walking on a partition about a third of the way into the packed crowd on the floor. He then triumphantly crowd surfed– yes, crowd surfed –back to the stage.

All was quickly forgiven.

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Album Review: Weezer – Raditude (DGC/Interscope)

weezer 12x12cs3.inddAfter listening to Raditude, I am convinced Rivers Cuomo is the cop (the FBI agent, the NSA spy, etc.) so deep undercover he can no longer tell the difference between the person he is and the person he is pretending to be. The line between perception and reality is distorted, and the point at which it was crossed is a distant memory.

Even though Make Believe was an exercise in banality and The Red Album was a weird-for-the-sake-of-being-weird album with horrible results, we still got occasional lyrical assurances that Rivers was the same singer who bared his geeky soul on The Blue Album and Pinkerton. On Raditude the music is more power pop than ever, with lyrics that cater to 15 year olds– the “cool” ones who wouldn’t know a 12-sided die if it hit them in the face.

It is here where we find our horn-rimmed hero and the rest of Weezer, the same guys who banged out geek rock anthems about crushing on unattainable girls and spending hours of solitude in the garage, singing about letting it all hang out “with my homies,” picking up girls on the dance floor and the inability to stop partying at the club.

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