Interview: Animal Collective on the “alien rock-‘n’-roll” sounds of Centipede Hz

This interview appears in ALARM #40. Subscribe here to get your copy!

Animal Collective: Centipede HzAnimal Collective: Centipede Hz (Domino, 9/4/12)

“Today’s Supernatural”


What would it sound like if a band from another planet somehow heard early ’50s and ’60s rock and roll and covered it? This half-serious anecdote is how Animal Collective keyboardist Brian Weitz, better known as his stage name Geologist, frames his band’s ninth studio album, Centipede Hz. For as amusing as it is to imagine extraterrestrials clattering to The Hollies, Weitz’s rhetorical scenario points to the band’s creative motors at work, and how they manage to obscure influences beyond recognition.

Washed Out

Pop Addict: Washed Out’s Within and Without

Every Thursday, Pop Addict presents infectious tunes from contemporary musicians across indie rock, pop, folk, electronica, and more.

Washed Out: Within and WithoutWashed Out: Within and Without (Sub Pop, 7/12/11)

Washed Out: “Amor Fati”

[audio:|titles=Washed Out: “Amor Fati”]

In 2009, indie-electronica novice Ernest Greene appeared on the scene under the moniker Washed Out, offering an accessible and diverse dose of new wave with the impressive Life of Leisure EP. The debut recording delved into a re-imagined electronica sound, taking cues from mid-’80s synth heavyweights and incorporating a modern twist. It was a very bright start, but it was only a matter of time before Greene’s fresh, revitalized “chillwave” sound was put to the test on a full-length effort.

Two years later, Washed Out has returned with a proper LP — Within and Without — that expands on that initial, unique sound. Employing a glut of synths and electronic beats, Washed Out has taken new wave to a whole new level, modernizing the sound and legitimizing the genre. Mixing slowed dance beats with synth-heavy arrangements and various electronica ornamentations, Washed Out has put together a solid, unified offering.

Within and Without’s soothing soundscapes stem from the standout opener, “Eyes Be Closed.” Integrating waves of synth with steady drumming and atmospheric strings, the track moves fluidly, fluctuating between Washed Out’s subtle yet complex inner workings. There are a lot of things going on musically, with ocean-like soundscapes pulling in and out, shoring up with spastic, spaced-out keys and a sea of, well, “washed out” and reverberated vocals that submerge into the rest of the song, becoming musical textures within themselves.

Secret Cities

Pop Addict: Secret Cities’ Strange Hearts

Every Thursday, Pop Addict presents infectious tunes from contemporary musicians across indie rock, pop, folk, electronica, and more.

Secret Cities: Strange HeartsSecret Cities: Strange Hearts (Western Vinyl, 3/29/11)

Secret Cities: “Love Crime”

[audio:|titles=Secret Cities: “Love Crime”]

The economic landscape is a desolate, lonely terrain these days. Throughout the country, there have been bailouts, bankruptcies, bank failures, and business closings. There is, however, always a bright side to things. Thanks (oddly enough) to the down economy, Fargo, North Dakota-based trio Secret Cities was able to craft a gem of a record with this year’s Strange Hearts.

With a seemingly firm resolution to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump, the band occupied the basement of a recently abandoned bank in Kansas City, Missouri, to record its follow-up record. Serving as the band’s makeshift studio, the deserted space (equipped with bulletproof glass and a gigantic vacant vault) helped the members — Charlie Gokey, Marie Parker, and Alex Abnos — to hone in on their creativity, focus their efforts, and play to their many musical strengths.