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.
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 & 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.
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.
I Am a Bird Now barely made our list. It was #50 on Pitchfork’s.
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.
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:
- Part 28: Midlake, Missy Elliott & Modest Mouse
- Part 27: Luomo, Manu Chau & Microphones
- Part 26: Lil’ Wayne , Loretta Lynn & Los Halos
- Part 25: Klaxons, Les Savy Fav & The Libertines
- Part 24: Justin Timberlake, Kanye West & Kings of Leon
- Part 23: Johnny Cash, Josh Ritter & Justin Timberlake
- Part 22: Jens Lekman & Joanna Newsome
- Part 21: Iron & Wine, Jay-Z & The Jayhawks
- Part 20: Gentlemen Jesse, Grandaddy & The Hold Steady
- Part 19: Devin the Dude,the Deglados & the Fruit Bats
- Part 18: The Blood Brothers, The Coral & The Coup
- Part 17: Avett Brothers & Black Angels
- Part 16: Fennesz, Girl Talk & Grizzly Bear
- Part 15: Bob Dylan, Fiona Apple & Gilian Welch
- Part 14: Elbow, Exploding Hearts & Green Day
- Part 12: Dirty Projectors, Dizzee Rascal, & The Drive By Truckers
- Part 11: Damien Rice, Death Cab For Cutie & Deerhunter
- Part 10: Basement Jaxx, Cat Power & Clipse
- Part 9: Bruce Springsteen, Clinic & Crystal Castles
- Part 8: Bobby Bare Jr., Boredoms & Burial
- Part 7: 50 Cent, American Analog Set & Babyshambles
- Part 6: Boards of Canada, Brendan Benson & Bruce Springsteen
- Part 5: Bob Dylan, Bobby Bare Jr. & Bright Eyes
- Part 4: Animal Collective, Beck & Built to Spill
- Part 3: Basement Jaxx, Black Mountain & Blur
- 00s in Review: Gabe Joins the 21st Century