My story with “Jessica” began on November 2, 2009 in Long Beach, CA. In the midst of a show-filled senior year of high school, I managed to snag a pair of tickets to see Vampire Weekend at the Art Theatre–a tiny, independent movie theater–on their weird 2009 California tour of small venues (I seem to recall at least one VFW, as well as a skate park in Lake Elsinore, on the list of dates). After school, a friend and I rushed home to change out of our Catholic school uniforms (gotta look cool for the V-Dubz concert!) and made our way to Long Beach.
Animal Collective may be a household name at this point (well, among WKDU DJs anyway), but they’ve been releasing their warped freak-folk in different incarnations since 2000. Their excellent first album, Sprit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished, is unfortunately a lesser-known entry in their catalog. While it is credited to Animal Collective, their debut is largely an Avey Tare affair—Panda Bear provides “perfect percussion” (according to the album credits), but everything else is handled by Tare. Knowing Animal Collective, it’s not surprising that the album sounds nothing like the rest of their catalog.
“April and the Phantom,” the album’s second track (and my personal favorite) is fairly representative of Sprit as a whole. It’s a study in dichotomy—almost every element rubs against another to great effect. The song opens with a high-pitched, sugar coated synth line before running headfirst into loud, jarring white noise. The clatter cuts away to reveal Panda Bear’s distinctive percussion—it’s aggressive in the frequency of his hits, but is tempered by his use of brushes. Meanwhile, chirpy, cheap sounding synthesizers sing over the track’s high end while Avey Tare relentlessly strums his acoustic guitar. Tare’s singing ranges from timid, sweet falsetto to outright screaming, with everything in between present. The lyrics are very much up for interpretation, but seem to be a schizophrenic love story, with lyrics split between a narrator, April, and the Phantom—with each voice being sung in a distinct style from the last (I particularly like the phaser [I think?]-laden harmonies during the Phantom’s part).
“April and the Phantom” is entirely bizarre, extremely captivating, and absolutely worth a listen. Stream it above.
Eleanor Friedberger is back with a new single, titled ”Stare at the Sun”! It’s an upbeat springtime track that will make you want to ditch your work and go play frisbee with someone’s dog. Friedberger’s unmistakable voice will likely be stuck in your head for awhile after listening, but you probably won’t mind. The funny video seems to be mocking typical hipstery video production of late (in a loving way, of course). As she sings, “If that was goodbye, then I must be high / You know I’ll be seeing you soon,” a cute teenage girl loosely translates in sign language, then plays air guitar in between verses. I’ll definitely be adding this song to my ‘Wake Up’ playlist!
Friedberger has a pretty extensive tour planned for the month of June (though sadly there are no dates in Philly), along with her second solo album, titled Personal Record, coming out on June 4th.
So obsessed with this song right now. Grandchildren are a Philly-born pop electro band who also incorporate acoustic elements into their music. They’re on the Brooklyn-based independent label Ernest Jenning Records and their latest album Golden Age came out just a few weeks ago. Sheer pop rock perfection.