One Song Worth a Whole Album?

Artist: Devendra Banhart

Album: Cripple Crow

The album runs a little long. With 22 tracks, it tends to run its course by the end. There are moments though, for instance, “Heard Somebody Say” starts a bit like The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” and becomes even catchier. The soft strumming and soft singing gives a listener a relaxing vibe. It’s like laying down and doing nothing: no worries, no life, just peace. Overall, it’s one of the best tracks I’ve heard all year. The rest of the album sounds like droning folk music; think what The Mars Volta would do with only acoustic guitars and the loss of their spastic rage. Banhart sounds a bit like Van Morrison and Bob Dylan and even dips into a bit of Spanish on a few tracks.

Long albums are nice because they allow the listening to divulge into a serious work, but a long album that drags on can be a little too much. Although it is long there really are not any particular tracks that I would want to eliminate. The songs tend to be short which allows the album to seem shorter than it actually is.

Standout tracks include the aforementioned, “Heard Somebody Say,” Chinese Children,” in which he sings about having Chinese children and “The Beatles,” which he sings about, well I guess you could figure it out. Devendra Banhart is someone to take notice to, he sings short, catchy sings with obvious influences. There is a lot of Beatles, a little Dylan and an ending with a Tom Waits-like piano minus the smell of cigarette smoke and beer.

Artist: Animal Collective

Album: Feels

I thought this album would just take a while to warm up to, but I must have been trying to trick myself. “Grass” is the best song I’ve heard all year. It has such a catchy melody, but one that seems to have no pattern or rhythm and the chorus is simply a screeching yelp, but oh does it work so well. However, for the rest of the album the lack of verse, chorus, rhythm, or melody makes it a hassle to get through. To go experimental is good, but the album sounds like mix of a bad early Pink Floyd album and The Beatles’ “Revolution 9.”

Though there are no animal sounds on the album, the noise made by the band can at times sound like a farm orgy. The album starts promising with the opening track, “Did You See the World” and then onto the great “Grass” but comes to a halt with “Flesh Canoe,” which is four minutes of such nonsense that I can’t even compare it to anything else. It picks up again with the fourth track, “The Purple Bottle” but then goes into more nonsense.

The band seems talented enough to write more tracks such as “Grass” and “The Purple Bottle,” but then they seem content on releasing an album with only one, maybe two worthwhile tracks. They might as well have just released an entire album of pigs snorting, save for “Grass.” There is enough here to be curious as to what else they do, but be warned: farm orgies don’t sound that good on an album.

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