By Bobby Beebe
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down – A Man Alive
On her fourth record with backing band The Get Down Stay Down, “A Man Alive” Thao Nguyen sings louder than she has before. The loudness of her voice has less to do with actual volume and more to do with ethos. Nguyen has stepped forward on this record to let her voice be the driving sound and message behind a record. A record which reads, with the angst and energy, of a debut. On previous albums Thao & The Get Down Stay Down have achieved a meticulous, sun-drenched indie pop. The music has, for the most part, been nice. The kind of music that might make an appearance on your favorite indie film soundtrack, but certainly wasn’t breaking any ground. In comparison, “A Man Alive” is anything but nice. Which feels like a complete overhaul for the group, equipped with more strangeness and confidence than any of their previous ambitions. Nguyen’s voice walks several lines on this record: the line between frantic on songs like “Meticulous Bird” and composed on “Nobody Dies,” from Sweet on “Slash/Burn” to Squealing on “Departure.” The one place where her voice remains waivered is in its definitiveness. This is not an album that intends to ask you questions or flirt with your fantasies. This record demands that you sit back and shut up, while it tells you how things are going to go down.
Animal Collective – Painting With
The most interesting and endearing thing about Animal Collective is their confusing ability to consistently infuse art-rock with pop sentiments. This is a surprising feat considering the artists behind AnCo (Panda Bear, Avey Tare and Geographer) seem to reject pop ideals almost completely. Perhaps then, Animal Collective serves as an outlet for three electronic artists to perform by more conventional means. The band certainly perfected this craft on their 2009 album “Merriweather Post Pavilion,” but have given more interesting takes on combining pop and art on albums like records like 2004’s “Sung Tongs” or their most recent release “Centipede Hz.” Needless to say, the latest Animal Collective project, “Painting With” was met with high expectations, especially given the infectious singles “Floridada” and “Golden Gal” which led up to the release. Despite the promise of all these factors, Animal Collective has managed to create their least accessible and least listenable record to date. A layer of noise, which incessantly hovers around the listener’s head lies as the framework to the album. A framework which is so distracting and annoying that it becomes nearly impossible for a listener to figure out what exactly is going on. “Painted With” can’t be chalked up as a failed experiment though. It certainly fails, but it is not out-there enough to be considered an experiment, clinging to a lot of conventions the group has leaned on in the latter half of their career. Instead, the most telling way to chalk up “Painted With” is with a completely objective statement: “Painted With” is Animal Collective’s 10th full-length album.
WLFC Power Currents:
1. Cage the Elephant – Cold, Cold, Cold
2. The Oh Sees – Fortress
3. Grimes – Flesh Without Blood
4. Wet – Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl
5. Prince – Rock and Roll Love Affair
6. Iggy Pop – Gardenia
7. Violent Femmes – Memory
8. Animal Collective – Floridada
9. Chairlift – Ch-Ching
10. Cloud Cult Days To Remember