March 17th, 2014 · 2 Comments · By

Animal Collective / Sung Tongs (Fat Cat Records, 2004)


Often an album is described as ‘defying it’s time’ when it resembles nothing else or is disconnected from its time or influences and fads of the moment. Last Saturday as the weather had improved and the onset of spring was evident, 2 musicians (and their expansive hairdos), could be seen on the Downtown Mall covering a song from Sung Tongs with nothing more than a tired guitar and homemade drums. It was magical: not so much folk (or not Dylan-esque modern folk), but something more like The Incredible String Band where all manner of musical influences from across the globe are welcome. And it’s not really even world music per se; Animal Collective listened to techno, shoegaze and modal jazz…also the Beach Boys. This record I’ll be listening to ten years from now, because their psychedelic folk transports me to an unknown cosmic, hypnotic space to get lost in while you wait for the sun to return…



Ed. Note: Melody Supreme, located at 115 4th St. SE off the Downtown Mall, is Charlottesville’s best record store. The owner Gwen Berthy has impeccable taste and a curatorial hunger matched by few. One of my favorite parts of the store is Gwen’s handwritten notes on records. Le DISQUE DU LUNDI is Gwen’s online version of those recommendation gems–posted on Nailgun and available for purchase at Melody Supreme.

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 james // Mar 17, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    the best Animal Collective album! ( also, although it’s their fifth album, it’s the first one that actually says “Animal Collective” anywhere on it… )

    they played in Charlottesville in 2002, but I didn’t go because at that point I had only heard “Danse Manatee” (“Spirit They’re Gone” was OOP, “Campfire Songs” hadn’t come out yet), and I didn’t get what all the fuss was about.

    A year later I heard “Campfire Songs” and “Here Comes the Indian” and they were my new favorite band. I think they played the Tea Bazaar around this time; setting up their gear on the floor under Rose Csorba’s tree (pre-renovation, when the tree was smaller) rather than on the stage.

    I just dug around in my email archive and found an email from Andy Miller from ~2004 where he reviewed /described a show where Gulf Coast Army and White Magic opened for AC in town; would this have been the TB show, or a different one? I was living in California at the time so I don’t know.

    I finally saw them in New York that summer, the month that “Sung Tongs” came out, I believe (though an advance-leaked burned CD-R copy from my college girlfriend was the soundtrack to my cross-country drive back east that spring). They did a big show at Bowery Ballroom at the end of that tour, which was mostly material from the work-in-progress “Feels.” (Black Dice opened, and were underwhelming). Hard to believe that was almost 10 years ago.

    Then the next afternoon I saw them do an in-store performance at OtherMusic, as an acoustic trio, with 100% different material; tons of yet-unreleased songs, “Winter’s Love,” a cover of Nirvana’s “On a Plain,” and an amazing, up-tempo, clapping and acapella version of “I Remember Learning How to Dive.” I’ve got a bootleg mp3 recording of this show somewhere if anyone wants to hear it. (the guy with the mic was standing right behind me, though it took over six years for the recordings to surface online); it doesn’t do justice to the experience of being there, but it sounds pretty good.

    In 2007 they played Satellite Ballroom, and I was actually working at Plan9 at the time and had every intention of going, but I had a horrible flu that day and was too weak to even get out of bed. My would-be date went alone, and was thoughtful enough to snag me a CD-R from the merch table of the opening act, one Sir Richard Bishop. I heard the show was good.

    I haven’t honestly been thrilled about most of their material in the past five years, honestly, but I still listen to “Sung Tongs” and Panda Bear’s “Person Pitch” on a weekly basis. I still love those albums enough that I bought the pricy double-LP reissues from — you guessed it, Melody Supreme. “Visiting Friends” got played more than a few times on WTJU and Radio Bistro the last year I was in town.

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