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Best of the 00s: Animal Collective, Antony & the Johnsons & At the Drive In

Posted by February 1st, 2010 No Comments »

Best of the 00s: Gabe Joins the 21st Century
Part 2: Animal Collective, Antony & the Johnsons and At the Drive In

Nada co-founders Matt and Gabe are listening to 197 of the music press’s best albums of the past decade for a new series called Gabe Joins the 21st Century.

Animal Collective
Strawberry Jam 

Gabe: Strawberry Jam was my first exposure to Animal Collective. My expectations were high, considering that Animal Collective tied with Radiohead and Sigur Ros for most albums on the list, with four.

After two listens, I was intrigued. The songs have lots of different sounds and stuff going on. The psychedelic/experimental pop elements reminded me a bit of the White Album and Psonic Psunspot. But upon further review the novelty wore off. I just don’t connect with the songs. On my most recent listen the only songs I didn’t push skip on were tracks 5 and 7 (“Fireworks” and “Winter Wonder Land”). I don’t dislike Strawberry Jam, but I can’t say I’m excited to listen to their next three entries on the list. Grade: LIKE

Matt: After three attempts to make it all the way through this album’s modest nine songs, I’ve surrendered. I love trippy harmonies and psychedelic textures as much as the next guy (see Panda Bear; Neutral Milk Hotel), but only when the songs have the chops to carry them. And I don’t like any of Animal Collective’s songs enough to keep listening. So I give: I don’t like Animal Collective. There. Will everyone just leave me alone now? Grade: DO NOT LIKE

Strawberry Jam made one of the eight lists we’re referencing for this project. It was #9 on Stereogum’s countdown.

Antony and the Johnsons I Am A Bird Now

Antony & The Johnsons
I Am a Bird Now

Gabe: It’s fun listening to these albums without many preconceptions. Going in, I imagined that Antony & the Johnsons as a sarcastic young punk band. Boy was I wrong. I Am A Bird Now is a serious contender for the best ever set of piano ballads about growing up transgendered, and, with “Fistful of Love,” it features the most romantic song about domestic violence that I’ve ever heard. But unless you’re a sucker for cabaret ballads, you’ll probably be bored silly, at least until “Fistful of Love” smacks you in the face.

Grade: LIKE

Matt: Agreed. Tune out the lyrics and “Fistful of Love” is a big, epic 70s soul celebration. Tune them back in and it’s even more impactful. (“Did he just say ‘I feel your fists and I know it’s out of love?’ What the…”) The song is destined for several more mixed tapes/CDs/playlists, but I’ve already relegated the album to “something to put on as a discussion starter when we have new dinner guests over” status in my collection.

Grade: LIKE

I Am a Bird Now barely made our list. It was #50 on Pitchfork’s.

At the Drive In Relationship of CommandAt the Drive In 
Relationship of Command

Gabe: Apparently the downside to skipping a decade’s worth of music is discovering an incredible band only to find that they’ve already disbanded. Wikipedia says At The Drive-In is “post-hardcore,” but I’d describe them as a metal band with a punk edge. Or vice versa.

Whatever you want to call it, Relationship of Command rocks. On some tracks, it sounds like what would have happened if Rush turned down the keyboards and made an album with 10 great tracks instead of one great track and a pile of shite. In fact, Relationship of Command is threatening to derail this entire project. It’s hard to give genre experiments from Basement Jaxx and Animal Collective a fair listen when I can listen to ATDR kick out the jams.

Grade: LOVE

Matt: Dude you missed out. Where were you in 2000 and 2001 when Joe, Snizz and I were still shot-gunning 12 packs and incessantly flying our devil horns to “Enfilade?” Oh…right. Starting a family. And being a lawyer. Lame.

Hey incidentally, could I borrow 20 bucks?

Grade: LOVE (Duh)

Relationship of Command was #41 on NME’s list.

More in this series:

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