Singles of the year: #70

70. Who Could Win A Rabbit? – Animal Collective

With Muzik and Jockey Slut gone, Q and Mixmag reduced to puerile embarrassments, seemingly targeted at people who don’t even like music, Uncut gone up an Americana/classic-rock blind alley, Mojo still too off-puttingly dad-like (although I know full well I’ll end up there sooner or later), the NME and Radio 1 dumbed down to a shrill screech for New! Academia Free! studenthood, The Wire still way, waaaaaay too weird-is-good obscurantist for lil’ ol’ me, and Radio 2 still picknicking in MeluaCullumBooblayLand, 2004 was the year that I finally stopped relying on traditional music media for my prime sources of information.

(Honourable exceptions: Word, whose cheery rockin-vicar-ishness cannot help but strike a chord, even if it never actually tells me anything new; OMM (Observer Music Monthly), although it strives too hard to be all things to all men; and Radio 3’s Late Junction as filtered back to me by K, who looks things up on their website and makes purchases accordingly. I’m now considering fRoots, whose cover-mounted CDs are exemplary, or maybe Songlines, for all my ever-burgeoning world music needs.)

Instead, I looked more and more to the self-described “music press in exile” on the web, and in particular to the unimpeachable Fluxblog, the passionate, maximalist, staggeringly well-informed Koons Really Does Think He’s Michelangelo… and the earnest academics of the I Love Music message board, without whom I would never have discovered the marvellous Animal Collective. (Yes! He got to the point AT LAST!)

At once primitive and intricate, and gleefully bashed out in God knows what time signature, or signatures, Who Could Win A Rabbit is, like the work of The Fiery Furnaces (see #80 below), all about learning to live with the kookiness, which once again levels out after a few plays. I particularly like the sense of place on this recording, which sounds like it was put together in a garage on a hot summer’s day. In this respect, it reminds me of Jonathan Richman’s surreally child-like 1977 album Rock And Roll With The Modern Lovers. (You know? The one with Egyptian Reggae on it?)

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