Grab the latest from three returning acts
Panda Bear — ‘Buoys’
THE GOOD: Animal Collective member Panda Bear (singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/producer Noah Lennox) comes back with an intimate sixth solo record.
THE BAD: Nothing.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Still a member of Animal Collective, Lennox wasn’t part of the group’s last record, “Tangerine Reef,” a one-off collaboration with a marine biologist. His absence is completely excusable though if he was working on “Buoys” instead.
The new album strips away many of the electronics and psychedelic atmospherics of past works and shows the singer in a much different light. Lennox always put those otherworldly sounds to good use, but it’s cool hearing the man show off his pure pop chops as he delivers simple, echo-drenched compositions built upon shuffling acoustic guitars, minimal beats and sparse keyboard squiggles.
Even though it’s sometimes coated in effects, Lennox’s voice is more front-and-center. During songs such as “Dolphin,” “Cranked” and “Master,” his lyrics and melodies are just as important as the overall groove. That’s not usually the case with Panda Bear records, but the shake-up works.
BUY IT?: Yes.
The Claypool Lennon Delirium — ‘South of Reality’
THE GOOD: Prog-rock duo the Claypool Lennon Delirium returns with a way-out sophomore set.
THE BAD: Know what you’re getting into. Imagine vintage Emerson, Lake and Palmer or King Crimson but with more sarcastic wit. “Reality” is NOT for everyone.
THE NITTY GRITTY: The two main players are Les Claypool of Primus and Sean Lennon of about six other on-again/off-again projects (dude gets around). The two originally collaborated on a one-off record after touring together in separate bands. Now, the Delirium is more long-term.
With Claypool playing bass throughout and singing half the songs, it’s sometimes difficult to separate CLD from Primus. However, Lennon makes sure the music goes in more cosmic directions. This is a loose space-rock record where Lennon’s psychedelic tendencies go toe-to-toe with Claypool’s distinct brand of funk and humor. The combination works; it’s an indie rock throwback to the days of “Tarkus” or “2112.” The album is lightly goofy in spots but quite enjoyable if you’re open to its vibes.
BUY IT?: Sure.
Family Animals — ‘The End Is Mere’
THE GOOD: Scranton natives Family Animals enters its second decade together with the super-groovy “The End Is Mere.”
THE BAD: Nah.
THE NITTY GRITTTY: Once again, the Viola brothers and their buddy Frank have created something “unclassifiable.” “Mere” straddles many fences, takes more than a few left turns and smashes multiple genres in the process.
“Push Play” kicks off the proceedings with a loopy bit of Ween-esque playfulness. From there, we plow through the Grateful Dead-like jam “Gimmie Jim-Jims,” neo-psychedelic buzz of “Nuclear Confusion,” stoned rocker “The Modern Life,” weird workout “Guitarbot 4000 and the Two Tongue Twins” and the melodic yet foreboding “A Speaker in Your Stereo.” The variety is trippy, the music all-encompassing.
“Mere” is a deep, multi-textured mixed bag — a true headphones album that works best when savored as a whole. Trust me. You won’t be bored.
BUY IT?: Definitely. And go for the CD — NOT the download. The Swims’ Brian Langan did the slick artwork.
Contact the writer: email@example.com