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Tag Archives: Panda Bear

Albums of the Year 2016

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*Best of 2016*

10) Porches
Pool
[Domino]

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09) Chance the Rapper
Coloring Book
[self-released]

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08) Bon Iver
22, A Million
[Jagjaguwar]

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07) Animal Collective
Painting With
[Domino]

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06) Young Thug
JEFFERY
[Atlantic/300 Entertainment]

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05) Blood Orange
Freetown Sound
[Domino]

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04) Danny Brown
Atrocity Exhibition
[Warp]

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03) David Bowie

[ISO/RCA/Columbia/Sony]

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02) Solange
A Seat at the Table
[Saint/Columbia]

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01) Kanye West
The Life of Pablo
[Def Jam/GOOD]

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Here is a list of my twenty favorite songs from 2016. These are listed in alphabetical order and has been limited to one track per artist.

Blood Orange – Best To You (Feat. Empress Of)
Bon Iver – 1 0 d E A T h B R E a s T
Cass McCombs – Bum Bum Bum
Chance the Rapper – Smoke Break (Feat. Future)
Danny L Harle – Supernatural (Feat. Carly Rae Jepsen)
David Bowie – Lazarus
Deakin – Golden Chords
DJ Diamond – Lab 2 This
Frank Ocean – Nikes
Kanye West – Real Friends
Kero Kero Bonito – Trampoline
KING – The Greatest
M.I.A. – Survivor
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Need You
Pusha T – Got Em Covered (Feat. Ab-Liva)
Radiohead – Ful Stop
Rae Sremmurd – Black Beatles (Feat. Gucci Mane)
Rihanna – Work (Feat. Drake)
The Weeknd – Starboy (Feat. Daft Punk)
William Tyler – Gone Clear

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2015: Albums of the Year

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*Best of 2015*

10) Panda Bear
Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper
[Domino]

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09) Carly Rae Jepsen
Emotion
[Interscope]

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08) Lower Dens
Escape From Evil
[Ribbon Music]

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07) Neon Indian
VEGA INTL. Night School
[Mom+Pop]

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06) Beach House
Depression Cherry / Thank Your Lucky Stars
[Sub Pop]

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05) Future
DS2
[Epic/Free Bandz]

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04) Deerhunter
Fading Frontier
[4AD]

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03) Kendrick Lamar
To Pimp a Butterfly
[Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope]

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02) Vince Staples
Summertime ’06
[Def Jam]

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01) Tame Impala
Currents
[Interscope]

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Here is a list of my twenty-five favorite songs from 2015. These are listed in alphabetical order and has been limited to one track per artist.

Beach House – Elegy to the Void
Carly Rae Jepsen – I Really Like You
Courtney Barnett – Depreston
Deerhunter – Breaker
Drake – Hotline Bling
easyFun – Laplander
f(x) – 4 Walls
Galcher Lustwerk – I Neva Seen
Grimes – Realiti
James Ferraro – Skid Row
Jamie xx – I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) (Feat. Young Thug & Popcaan)
Jason Derulo – Want to Want Me
Julia Holter – Feel You
Justin Bieber – What Do You Mean?
Kanye West – All Day
Kelela – Rewind
Kendrick Lamar – King Kunta
Kurt Vile – Pretty Pimpin
Mac DeMarco – I’ve Been Waiting For Her
Miguel – Coffee
Tame Impala – The Less I Know The Better
Tate Kobang – Bank Rolls (Remix)
Vince Staples – Norf Norf
The Weeknd – As You Are
Young Thug – Constantly Hating (Feat. Birdman)

2014: Albums of the Year
Ariel Pink

*Best of 2014*

05) Eno/Hyde
High Life
[Warp]
Eno/Hyde

04) Spoon
They Want My Soul
[Loma Vista]
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03) Aphex Twin
Syro
[Warp]
Syro

02) Future
Honest
[Epic/Free Bandz/A1]
Future

01) Ariel Pink
Pom Pom
[4AD]
Ariel Pink

Here is a list of my favorite songs from 2014. These are listed in alphabetical order.

18+ – All The Time
Ariana Grande – Problem (Feat. Iggy Azalea)
Ariel Pink – Lipstick
Aphex Twin – Circlont6a [141.98] (syrobonkus mix)
Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks – Little Fang
Bobby Shmurda – Hot Nigga
D’Angelo & The Vanguard – Sugah Daddy
Death Grips – Have a Sad Cum
Eno/Hyde – DBF
Future – Benz Friendz (Whatchutola) (Feat. Andre 3000)
Future Islands – Seasons (Waiting On You)
ilovemakonnen – Club Goin’ Up On A Tuesday (Feat. Drake)
Mac DeMarco – Passing Out Pieces
Migos – Fight Night
Panda Bear – Mr. Noah
Pure X – Valley of Tears
Real Estate – Crime
Spoon – Do You
Taylor Swift – Shake It Off
The War On Drugs – Red Eyes

TomboyPanda Bear’s heavily hyped fourth album, Tomboy, is released and it lives up to expectations, although ultimately with reservations. Preceded by four singles that were released on four different labels and by the instantly-classic Person Pitch album, Panda Bear’s latest continues the creative streak that the Animal Collective members have been on for over five years. Meme-generating terms such as “post-Merriweather Post Pavilion” and “post-Person Pitch” have littered the internet inasmuch as defining new bands’ sound (for the record: chillwave is analogous with “post-Person Pitch“), so it could be said without hesitation that Tomboy was expected to be yet another game-changing album from Animal Collective’s most-visible band member.

Tomboy was recorded in a basement in Benfica, Portugal. In that respect one can understand the, let’s call it, dimmed-colors present here, at least compared to Person Pitch. The tracks “Drone,” “Slow Motion,” or the ambient “Scheherazade” exhibit ghostly vocals and other elements that evoke cool feelings. But, the entire album can’t be classified thusly. “Surfer’s Hymn” is the best example of a track that sounds the most like “old” Panda Bear, this track also sounds much better on the album than the single-version that released a few weeks before. The single-version of this track had a pitch-shifted vocal that I thought ruined everything. And, “Surfer’s Hymn” does sound contrived at the start, but Noah Lennox (who is Panda Bear) pulls it together into a cohesive, single-worthy (which it is) track.

The production here is commendable. Tomboy was originally planned to have been mixed by Animal Collective members Avey Tare and Deakin, but instead it was mixed by Spaceman 3 member Sonic Boom. The news that this album changed mixing personnel came late in this album’s gestation period, two of the album’s singles had already been released when this was said to be. Did this decision create the hushed-euphoric elements? I can’t say, but I will say that it didn’t harm this album any. Panda Bear has previously credited Beach Boys, and to be specific, Brian Wilson, as a source of inspiration for the music he creates. Several tracks on this album have beautiful harmonies, specifically the album-standout “Last Night at the Jetty,” which has a Beach Boys-style songwriting structure. Panda Bear is able to use his voice as an additional element in the music. Well, of course, but what I mean is that he uses it not unlike the way a guitar or percussion would be used. Specifically in “Last Night at the Jetty” during the breakdown of the repetitious “I know I know I know know I know I know I,” that speeds up the pace of the song. He does this again to great effect with that track’s b-side, “Drone.” Although, Panda Bear doesn’t do this to the same level of success that was displayed in Person Pitch. On that album, “Bros” and “Good Girl/Carrots” used avant-garde songwriting and production styles to alter pop music paradigms; unfortunately nothing on this album displays that kind of creative ingenuity. But, let’s not discredit the music on Tomboy, this album is superb. Another production element that owes a great deal to the themes in this album is the intonation of Panda Bear’s voice. His voice possesses an organ-like quality that makes the album feel otherworldly. The majority of the album is sung in the same intonation which keeps this sentiment present throughout.

Panda Bear noted in interviews that Tomboy would be guitar and rhythm-driven. The latter is correct, but only a few tracks use rhythm-guitar, one being the eponymous “Tomboy” track which is the album’s first high-point. Although the track is generally sparse, Panda Bear creates a great sense of depth with a minimal amount of ingredients. “Alsatian Darn” is noteworthy as well for its use of acoustic guitar and its handclaps, proving to potentially be the album’s most accessible track. Panda Bear could have instead said that the album does have a higher amount of singing than other Animal Collective albums, even on the ambient-style tracks.

As mentioned earlier, Animal Collective, and specifically here Panda Bear, continue to create abstract representations of pop music, but nothing on this album shouts “Eureka!” like Person Pitch had done. Tomboy is paced thoughtfully and showcases how music is often a production of the environment in which it was created; here it was a basement in the sun-washed city of Lisbon, Portugal. Last year, Avey Tare released his first solo album, Down There, as he was going through a divorce. That album was subdued and emotional, and despite its brevity, could be considered as the better release of these two records. Thankfully, sometimes the sun does shine through the reverb and the haze in Tomboy, and it’s OK if you go out to bathe in it.

(Reviewer’s Score: 3.8/5)

A track from Panda Bear’s (a.k.a Noah Lennox, a member of Animal Collective) forthcoming album, Tomboy, to be released this April. The link is from gorillavsbear.net.

Panda Bear – Last Night at the Jetty

This outstandingly-hyped album has been a long time coming, originally planned to have been released last fall. If it’s anywhere near as good as his last solo album, 2007’s Person Pitch, we’re in for a treat.

LogosFinding an album in a “used bin” which hasn’t been released yet should typically throw up a few black flags. This was the case when I discovered the latest Atlas Sound album in a record store on the Penn campus. Luckily for me and my eight dollars, the album must have been placed there mistakenly and I became the benefactor of such a mistake (the most likely case in my finding it there was what I bought was actually a promotional copy). This specific album had been my most anticipated release during the preceding months. In the first place, lead-off single “Walkabout” features guest Noah Lennox (Panda Bear of Animal Collective), another track features Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier, and the album itself is the solo project of Deerhunter’s frontman Bradford Cox. The last Atlas Sound album, Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel, has played a minimum of 43 times on my iTunes (not to mention that I own the record on vinyl as well).

Logos lives up to the precedent set by Let The Blind… immediately with its first two tracks. “The Light That Failed” and “An Orchid” sound like what could have been b-sides to Let The Blind… These two sound hazy and lonesome. But, excitingly for the listener, the third track “Walkabout” brings in new sounds for the project. This song is upbeat, fun, and vibrant. According to the press material that was sent to promote the album, Bradford Cox and Noah Lennox (Panda Bear) collaborated over their European tour to create the song. It takes what is typical for Panda Bear, specifically pop melodies, and loops them into what is a bona fide summer dance track.

Following “Walkabout” are two tracks that unveil the folk side of Bradford Cox. “Criminals” and “Attic Lights” both tell stories while being toned down much in the way in that the album’s first two tracks are presented. The eighth track, “My Halo” is another which could be bunched into this grouping. When I saw Atlas Sound live, Bradford Cox actually performed “My Halo” using a harmonica. In a recent interview with Pitchfork Media, Bradford Cox reveals that he has been listening to Neil Young as of late, the influence is definitely visible throughout Logos.

Returning to the upbeat quality of “Walkabout”, the sixth track of the album “Sheila” is the most blatant pop song of the entire record. Yet the song is quite deep despite its upbeat guise. The songs plays on themes of longing and death, but most importantly the song is about living. After “Sheila” though the album plays into its centerpiece. The eight and a half minute “Quick Canal,” featuring vocals and words by Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier, is a dizzying and cryptic opus that proves to be a beautiful segue onto the album’s latter half. This latter half is also the most electronic sounding part of the album. “Kid Klimax,” “Washington School,” and the eponymous “Logos” continue with the vibe that “Quick Canal” started.

What makes Logos so entirely satisfying is that it offers a pot pourri. Call it pop, electronic, or even folk, they’re all here and they all melt together into a fantastic and wholesome album. The album paces itself along the same lines of the latest Deerhunter full-length, Microcastle. Microcastle is beautiful, sampling genre after genre to create a sound of its own. The same can be said with Logos.

Near the end of the aforementioned Pitchfork Media interview, Cox says that he wants to develop a fanbase that will stay loyal no matter what direction he or his band decides to take. He is well on his way. The fact that another “digital 7′” was released under his Atlas Sound moniker just last week on the Deerhunter blog, which sounds completely different from Logos and is completely amazing, shows the musical genius that is Bradford Cox.

(Reviewer’s Score: 4.2/5)