Panda Bear's Vinyl-Only "A Day With the Homies" Is Worth A Listen
Animal Collective was one of the greatest bands of the 2000s.
Their bizarre, brain-bending mix of pop, rock, folk, and experimental sounded like nothing else. And they were really on a roll there for a while, right up until their first post-2000s album: 2012's Centipede Hz.
I've actually enjoyed Avey Tare and Panda Bear's solo work more than recent Animal Collective albums (especially Avey's 2010 Down There and Panda' 2015 Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper).
Maybe it's because, with all the success from Merriweather Post Pavilion, the weight of the "Animal Collective" name became heavier than expected. For whatever reason, Avey and Panda seem like they can actually stretch their legs out a bit in their solo work.
Recently, Panda dropped a vinyl-only EP, A Day With The Homies and it's pretty damn good.
Really like the idea of a vinyl-only release because it means there's a specific way it's supposed to be heard. It's not something you can throw in your headphones on your way to work. Unless you have a digital rip of it, you've got to be somewhere that can accommodate a record player first, and that place is more than likely your home.
I'll admit that I do listen to most of my music on the go these days, so not being able to play A Day With The Homies on commutes or in the car, for instance, restrains exposure to it. I like that though. Do we always need immediate access to everything on our phones?
Without going through the 5-song EP track-by-track, it plays like a welcome surprise, which makes it a worthwhile investment if you're a fan. No, it doesn't hit the heights of peak Animal Collective or even Panda Bear's Person Pitch. It's not especially cohesive and it has its moments that jar as much as soothe (which is pretty typical of anything released by AC.)
What it does have going for it is a sense of spontaneity. There's plenty of heavy drums, meandering atmospherics, and general freeform electronic exploration all tied together by Panda's easygoing vocals. It almost feels like a mixtape in that way.
With a vinyl-only release, the audience was intentionally limited, so if Panda wants to let a girl's voice repeat "Open up your eyes" for a couple minutes to end Side A, he can do it.
And that's honestly what I want out of Panda Bear in 2018: Taking some risks and being true to vision. If that means limiting the audience by format, all the better.
The idea of any artist like Animal Collective that first emerged in the 2000s releasing an album that suddenly captures the imaginations of everyone person from their teens through forties is just not realistic.
The music landscape today is far more split than it was even in the 2000s, when indie (still hate that term as a genre, but here we are) felt extremely disconnected from the "mainstream"— even though the mainstream would eventually shift to accommodate much of the genre.
Point being we can't control the shifts of time, but we can adjust how we react and adapt to it.
And right now, A Day With The Homies feels like a good exercise in doing just that.
And today, A Day With The Homies feels like a good exercise in doing just that.