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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Panda Bear - 'Tomboy'


Paw Tracks; 2011
Our Take - 8.1

It's hard to listen to Tomboy, the latest from Noah Lennox’s Panda Bear project 
without comparing it to its largely successful predecessor. Panda Bear's most recent 
effort deviates quite bravely from the sound of his last, 2007’s career defining 
Person Pitch. On Tomboy we get no twelve-minute epic tracks that ambitiously 
explore the possibilities and limits of a more tendered minimalistic and repetitious 
approach (“Bros”, “Good Girl/Carrots”), and we get no bold sound juxtapositions 
where two unlikely songs bleed into one another almost spontaneously. Instead, 
we get eleven difficult and experimental tracks trapped into semi-conventional song 
structures and recycled as warm and inviting pop songs.

Panda Bear has compiled a superb collection of solid go-to songs. However, the 
songs have been scaled back and introverted to some degree with an increased 
focus on maintaining some semblance of a more familiar song structure. Each track 
operates within the closed system of itself and Panda Bear gives equal attention 
and effort into demarcating a unique ambiance to every individual track. That being 
said Lennox has still managed to accomplish a lot of imaginative things here while 
reverting to a more conventional method of song writing. The lyrics, when one can 
actually discern them or bothers to look them up, also seem more introverted and 
tend to maintain a more focused emphasis on the personal (e.g. "You can count on 
me," "Now I see you again"). Often times Noah Lennox orchestrates the focal point 
of his songs around speaking directly to the listener or some singled out personage 
lurking somewhere within the artist's own imagination.  This more intimately geared approach creates a space for him to pronounce and reinvent universal truths where artist and listener can connect on the same plane-- not only with each other, but with the entire world (provided they have their ears open), and share in a unique experience of the music as in "Benfica," 
the album closer, when he sings out above the raucous roar of an apropos crowd 
that "there is nothing more true or natural than wanting to win."

Musically Tomboy does not disappoint—a concentrated listen reveals a lot of dazzling moments. Somehow Panda Bear manages to structure a whole track ("Scheherazade") around one repeated chord on the piano, making the same harmony sound new with each bold repetition. He holds our attention in the album's dead center track, "Drone," as he fuses lyrics together, slowly sliding from one word to the next almost subconsciously so that we do not know how we came to abruptly arrive at the end of the track. "Last Night At The Jetty" will 
certainly stand out appropriately as sing-along-material due to its catchy melodic 
refrain and familiar chord structure, however, the way in which he presents this 
unforgettable track should stand out as a testament to why we respect and admire 
him as an artist.

Without question, Panda Bear's music, and his main outfit Animal Collective’s 
music, have become somewhat of an iconic subgenre within all contemporary 
experimental-pop music. Given the praise for Lennox’s own Person Pitch and the 
instantaneous success of his band’s 2009 gem, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Noah 
Lennox and Animal Collective fans alike must be asking themselves the same 
question, "Where do we go from here?" Rest assured, it is safe to say that both will 
continue pushing musical boundaries to incredible results.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Since I've Been Gone...

So it has been over a month since I've posted.  Why?  End of the semester, graduation, moving, start of the summer, work, etc., etc.  While I may have slowed down, the music world around me has picked up--it is only May and for some reason, all I can think about are year end lists.  In fact, the amount of great releases this year has been incredibly overwhelming (in a writerly sense, not as a listener), and way too much for me to handle on my own. I've created a review debt, a pile of albums that all deserve adequate commentary.  But, as I mentioned, the load is just too great.

Enter John Gibbs, a fantastic writer, music enthusiast, and the latest member to join the Ebbz and Flowzzzz team.  He is going to help me get the ball rolling once again starting with a review of Panda Bear's latest, Tomboy-- it should be up in the next day or so.  Following that review, we're going to try to follow more of a regular schedule with posting. Soon we will be bringing you the latest music news, album and concert reviews, and much more.

In the meantime, check out new releases from the artists below.  You can find them at your local record store, Amazon, or Itunes.  Thanks for your patience.

2011 New Releases

Starfucker - Reptilians
TV on the Radio - Nine Types of Light
Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
Republic Tigers - No Man's Land EP
Tyler, the Creator - Goblin
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Belong
Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring for My Halo
EMA - Past Life Martyred Saints
The Antlers - Burst Apart
Wild Beasts - Smother
Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact
Cass McCombs - WIT'S END
Nicholas Jaar - Space Is Only Noise
Panda Bear - Tomboy
Toro y Moi - Underneath the Pine
Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes
The Lonely Island - Turtleneck and Chain
The Cars - Move Like This