Peanut Butter, Collected Animals, Closed Captioning for the Hearing Impared

Last week marked a significant milestone in the indie music world. In this day and age, as obscure and less-marketed music constantly finds itself thrust into the popular culture spotlight, it becomes less shocking when an Of Montreal ripoff pops up in an Outback Steakhouse commercial, when Mates of State is shown touting AT&T phone service, when Bright Eyes graces the stage of The Tonight Show. Yet, despite these leaks of indiedom into the ‘real’ world, it still seems rather surprising that, of all the bands in the non-mainstream world, for Animal Collective to have been asked to perform on the Late Night with Conan O’Brien.

Who is the brilliant executive who ok’d this decision? (They must be a genius.)

Better yet, who’s the brilliant closed-captioner who, while watching the band’s performance of “#1,� decided these words would accurately describe the ethereality of the song to the hard-of-hearing?:

Animal Collective performs on 'Late Night' and has a run in with closed captioning

Honestly, were they unable to see that Noah Lennox, (AKA: Panda Bear) clearly does not possess any estrogen? Perhaps the captioner lacked his sense of sight, and had to rely upon his sense of hearing to communicate to those with the former and without the latter.

All joking aside, though, Animal Collective’s appearance on national television not only makes great strides in the world of independent music, but for the band themselves.

Strawberry Jam, the title of New York City-based band Animal Collective’s newest release, seems somewhat of a contradiction, for the sugary-sweet artificiality conjured up by the album’s name clashes horribly against characteristics of the group’s previous releases. Known for its revolutionary delves into uncharted areas of electronic psych-rock, Animal Collective—which consists of members David Portner, Noah Lennox, Josh Dibb, and Brian Weitz operating under the clever monikers of Avey Tare, Panda Bear, Deakin, and Geologist, respectively—push, often, into unsettling, confusing territory; sugar-coated and generic it is not.

However, despite the inherent contrasts which arise through the album’s name, Strawberry Jam, upon first listen, seems more of a delightfully fitting name than misguided misnomer. In fact, the album emerges as a collection of songs as accessible and easy to love as, well, strawberry jam.

Blending together their traditional high-register harmonies with intensely developed and intricately executed electronic instrumentation, Animal Collective seems to abandon their previous musical style—vaguely ethnic songs strongly influenced by experimental folk structures—on Strawberry Jam. The result emerges as an oddly fantastic one. Unexpectedly, the characters of Animal Collective jump from upbeat trip-pop—seen on track such as “Peacebone� and “Chores�—to mellow, reflective numbers, such as “Fireworks� at the drop of a hat. These constant shifts, however, work together perfectly, with each track building off their predecessor.

Performing on Conan may have been a public jumping point for Animal Collective, but Strawberry Jam should be seen as their long-deserved bridge between a discriminating audience and those who appreciate well-crafted music. So, pull out that white bread and peanut butter, and spread a liberal amount of Strawberry Jam onto your next afternoon snack.

Watch Animal Collective's national television debut here.
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