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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Panda Bear
Person Pitch
Paw-Tracks

Rating: 8.5/10 ?


April 3, 2007
When it comes to labeling pop genres, things ain't as simple as they used to be, with quaint terms like rock, rap, and punk. Nowadays listeners can sift through hyphen-mad jargon like post-punk, freak-folk, dance-wave, alt-country, noise-pop, math-rock, trip-hop, et al. One that outdoes them all is "post-rock," a concept too tantalizing to ignore, that signifies rock's 50 year stronghold on pop structure may be coming to its natural end. Groups at the end of last century - Mogwai, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Stereolab, and others of their ilk - pushed the boundaries of a new dynamic, beyond customary configuration. The new millennium tipping point? Radiohead's 2000 bombshell, Kid A, the ultimate tear-down from a previously traditional rock band.

Brooklyn originators Animal Collective could easily fall into this genus, or even more precisely, "post-folk." Like a true collective, their albums exhibit a peaceful coexistence of noise, effects, melody, acoustics and vocals. It all melds beautifully, occasionally flanking traditional song structures, but mostly following its own imaginative path. Soloing member and Lisbon resident Panda Bear, a.k.a. Noah Lennox, stays a similar course on his individual albums. His 2004 release, Young Prayer, echoed the Collective's probing but was sonically simpler. Panda's follow-up, Person Pitch, is an amazing leap forward; if Young Prayer was a bud, this is the flower in spring.

Person Pitch enriches Panda Bear's trademark acoustics with a healthy fusion of electronics and samples. It opens with "Comfy in Nautica," a striking choice that immediately grasps the listener, as a chanting chorus of vocals is soon joined by the beatific voice of Lennox. The result is hypnotic, and therein lies the source code of the entire record. Panda Bear is the meditative nucleus of the Collective, and nowhere is this more evident than in his solo work. But where Young Prayer was steeped in Eastern inspiration, Person Pitch is infused with a myriad of influences. East meets West, folk meets rock, old meets new; they all seamlessly come together, following the true-North of Panda's unique vision.

If Person Pitch has one overriding stimulus it is the pop-psychedelic flavor of The Beach Boys. The ghosts of their atmospheric arrangements, arpeggio vocal lines, and harmonies drench the album's eight songs. Centerpiece "Bros" is one of those remarkable twelve-minute songs that incorporates rolling vocals over a perpetual chord and rhythm. Like Beta Band's "She's the One," it is mesmerizing, a Bolero-esque piece that could go on for another twenty minutes and not be any less satisfying. The first section of "Good Girl" would fit perfectly on an Animal Collective release: turbulence, in the form of a repetitive drone, temporarily disrupts the flow; then, as the song morphs into its second and third acts, it is nothing but clear blue skies. "Search for Delicious" is the record's sole noise-folk (so-sorry) track, and it leads into "Ponytail," with which the album tapers to a mellow close.

The strength of Person Pitch is that it really doesn't matter what label might be affixed to it; quite simply, it is a gorgeous album from beginning to end. Panda Bear may be experimental, but Lennox is much more than a musical tinkerer. Like his compatriots in the "post" revolution, he possesses great ambition, matched by the talent to see it through. Whether solo, or with the Collective, he and artists like Sigur Rós and Sufjan Stevens have found the keys to making exploratory music that is the perfect soundtrack to this burgeoning century. In the album's liner notes Panda pays homage to a running list of artists that range from Madlib and Vashti Bunyan to George Michael and Metallica. That sums it up perfectly: whatever does come after "rock" will clearly have the ancient DNA of everything that came before it. If we'll get albums as sublime as Person Pitch, we have a lot to look forward to.

Reviewed by Ari Shapiro
A staff writer for LAS, Ari Shapiro mixes up pretty unique smoothies at XOOM in hot Tucson.

See other reviews by Ari Shapiro

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