I think I love blogging about beer and music so much because it seems like there is always something new to talk about. Every week new beer and music is released; therefore, I can stockpile things to talk about for quite a while. Some days that I have very little to say, which means I only have to look at what is making news in the beer or music world, and I have something to talk about. I may not be making a huge dent in the contribution of music or craft beer, but I love that I have managed to move to 1000 views a month. It may only be a small contribution, but it’s a contribution none-the-less.
Plants and Animals is a three piece band out of Montreal, Canada. Sadly, I am a little late getting into them, but I am still glad I was introduced to their latest album a couple of weeks ago. Plants and Animals have been making music for the last ten years, and they have released three albums thus far. Interestingly, their very first album was released as an instrumental album. They only began to incorporate singing as Warren Spicer, lead singer, began to provide vocals on a few other projects. Thanks to those contributions, he managed to turn Plants and Animals into a band you can sing along to. Their second album is what really got them recognized. It had them opening for Grizzly Bear, Wolfe Parade, Gnarls Barkley, and The National. Their second full-length album, La La Land, proved to be much darker in nature, but it also became a cult classic. Although it garnered less attention, true fans of the band still loved it.
It’s probably good that I’m only just getting into Plants and Animals now. Looking up this album on Pitchfork, they only received a 5.0 from the authority of all that is hipster. They have continually dropped in their grades on Pitchfork from their first album. Their first got a 8.0 and their second got a 6.1. In my opinion, that has to mean their actually getting cool to listen to again. Having not really listened to the first two full-lengths, there are some clear things that make this particular album enjoyable to me. “The End of That” has a very old rock and roll feel with some country/folk influences. Their music isn’t in your face. The vocals, melodies, and consistently catchy tunes are what drives the record forward. I’m always a big fan of a vocalist who manages to mix-up his vocal styling as well. On some songs, Spicer has a very classic rock and roll voice, but on others, he seems to have an almost grungy punk feel. Still others allow him to really soften it up for a very subdued take on the music.
The album opens up with one of the more low-fi songs. “Before” is a very mellow song that really doesn’t utilize most of the band for the opening; although, they do manage to make some contributions later on. Upon first listening to it, I was a little nervous the entire album would have this really low key nature to it. I have no problem with a quiet album, but I was hoping for an album that would allow me to listen to it as something more than background music. Spicer’s voice sounds great, and the music all blends well together, so it is still a good song. “HC” is another slower song on the album; interestingly, it only comes in at 52 seconds long. I’m not really sure why it’s so short. It almost seems like an incomplete song. However, half of the lyrics in the song are “lonely”, so I don’t think it’s a very happy song either. I like how the song “No Idea” manages to integrate some much louder guitar material and passion into the lyrics. While it’s another slow song, it seems to have more substance to it than some of the others.
One of my favorite songs on the album is “Crisis!”. It has a really dirty bluesy feel to it. There is something about the lyrics I really like too. Spicer singer out, “Holy Matrimony / Everybody’s getting married or breaking up / The stroller situation on the sidewalk is way out of control”. I know these probably seem like dumb lyrics to some; however, I actually kind of relate to that with a lot of my friends getting married and having babies before we do. Just seems crazy. Anyway, they don’t really vary the music up too much throughout the song, and I can’t help but think it could be a downfall, but I do think the way the song is sung provides a lot of variety in a different way.
A couple other stand out songs are “The End of That” and “Lightshow”. If you’re a big fan of Bob Dylan, you will definitely enjoy the vocals on “The End of That”. Aside from being the title song for the album, it is a good song because it takes it back to the roots of folk rock and roll. “Lightshow” also doesn’t vary the music up too much, but it is one of the louder songs on the album, and it allows for a little bit grittier singing as well. It definitely helps to add some good variety to the album.
Even though Plants and Animals have been around for ten years, this is the first time I’m getting to listen to them. It just helps to show you that you really don’t need a ton of new bands coming out every week. You can definitely find some older bands putting out good music that you never knew about, and I don’t have to wait around for them to put out new albums. The old ones are new to me, and they are supposedly better than an album I already like. Guess it’s time to check out the back catalog!
Teacher Grade: B