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Strawberry Jam

43 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 11, 2007
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Product Description

"Strawberry Jam" feels like space dust and radar falling on the desert and making it bloom. It's the sound of a band spinning wildly and intoxicated, at the cusp of their powers, as thick and rich and sweet and colorful as it sounds.

Animal Collective takes up where they left off with 2005's Feels, continuing with more traditional rock instrumentation (underlying a wealth of bizarre noises, rhythmic loops, and effects, naturally). The songs were written in a live setting (and polished on tours), and certainly convey that energy. They also convey the madcap experimentation that is the band's hallmark. As with Feels, or the preceding Sung Tongs, this is tempered by stellar songwriting ability, the ultimate factor in its success. The album opens with "Peacebone," an immediate indicator of the oddball, inspiring pop that follows. Its lyrics seem to be an inspirational missive on seizing the day, but then who can tell? On "Chores," Panda Bear puts in a manic sing-song with his Brian Wilson tenor, over a driving bed of sound effects and synth noises. "For Reverend Green" starts with a distorted wash of tremolo guitar and soon gives way to one of the finest pop songs the band has offered. Granted, it may not be radio pop, what with the mouth noises and surreal lyrics, but that's no small part of its charm. "Winter Wonder Land" is manic fist-pumping pop of the first order, and the crackly mellow piano sample opening "Cuckoo Cuckoo" does not prepare one for its pounding bombast. 2007 has been a typically prolific year for the band, and despite (or because of?) all their divergent pet projects, they've managed to improve with each outing. One can never quite tell what's next, and that's half the glory. Animal Collective's irreverence, absurdity, openness, and sheer melodic prowess conspire to produce yet another exceptional album. --Jason Pace
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 11, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Domino
  • ASIN: B000UE64PG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,901 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Less on September 11, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Animal Collective are my favorite band, so my opinion was a bit skewed from the start, but hearing these songs evolve from their original live versions has been a real treat. Immediatly after hearing "Fireworks," I knew it was my new favorite song of theirs and the Studio version on "Strawberry Jam" is almost as good. This album is filled with such beautiful melodies, creative sounds and recording techniques and vocal delivery. "Reverend Green" is amazingly catchy and driving. "Winter WonderLand" is pop perfection if I've ever heard it. Put this album on headphones or see them live. These guys have a perfect mix of natural, child-like bliss and scary, unpredicatbleness to their sound that transports you to a different planet. You don't find music this good on Earth very often. If you listen with an open mind, it's hard not to fall in love with it.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Cale E. Reneau on September 13, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I can remember when Animal Collective's 2005 album, "Feels," came out. I remember reading Rolling Stone calling them an "Artist to watch" or something similar to that, no doubt about 2 pages away from them ranting about the genius of Christina Aguilera or Pink. I recall being entirely confused by this article, mostly because this was Animal Collective, a band that has traditionally taken the non-Rolling Stone route of creating music. To see the one magazine that represents everything that is wrong with the music industry even acknowledging the band's existence was surprising to say the least. As it turns out though, my initial fear that Animal Collective had put aside their experimental rock sound in favor of a more Rolling Stone-friendly style was premature. "Feels" was a great album that showed a clear progression from "Sung Tongs," and I generally enjoyed what I heard.

"Strawberry Jam" also shows the band growing and expanding on their sound. The most notable change is that the album is strangely devoid of any significant downtime. Whereas their past two albums (the only two that I am familiar with) had upbeat, fast songs like "Who Could Win a Rabbit" grouped with dreamy, slow songs like "Bees," "Strawberry Jam" is exciting and upbeat for the majority of it's 43 minutes. In addition, the album also utilizes electronic instrumentation and effects more than their other works. It helps give "Strawberry Jam" a fresher sound and separates it from their previous records.

"Peacebone" gets thing started on a good note, as it's one of my favorite Animal Collective songs ever, blending electronic flutters with sing-along vocals and syncopated guitars. It sounds great! Of course, like most Animal Collective songs, it really needs to be heard in order to be understood.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Mike Newmark on September 13, 2007
Format: Audio CD
For all of Animal Collective's stylistic leapfrogging over the course of six albums, one could reductively say that their career has been a steady trajectory toward accessibility. "Accessibility" is, of course, a relative term, and it depends on who you ask; there are some for whom the Collective's shrieking vocals, unconventional riffing and fried electronics will never feel welcoming. But many of the band's latest songs are accessible in that they utilize elements typically found in a pop song, such as beats, choruses, and decipherable lyrics. To hear their newest music in the context of their alternately formless and vitrified early work is basically to witness two entirely different bands.

Feels (2005) was much more rockish than anything Animal Collective previously allowed themselves to do, though they still traded off between tribal, ADD pop and soupy ambient pieces. (I was slow on the uptake with these at first, but they offer great rewards down the line.) The band must have realized that their pop songs best held listeners' interest, because Strawberry Jam is almost entirely comprised of them. Interestingly, though, the nature of the pop is different. Instead of the shimmering, rounded tones that caress you as they pull you toward some sort of fauna heaven, Strawberry Jam prefers to jab, not lifting you up so much as stunning you where you sit and lurching you backward. The comparison to Mercury Rev's aberrant pop works well here; for an even better one, imagine some of the nightmarish fairy tale music on Animal Collective's own Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished (2000) reformatted for a more mainstream setting.

Take "Peacebone," for example.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By N. Peyton on December 13, 2009
Format: Audio CD
It's so hard to describe the allure of this album to someone who hasn't listened to Animal Collective before.

In the first few listens, it can seem like a jumbled mess, which some of the other reviewers naively categorized it as.
After you get to know this album several more times, and take it seriously that is, it's a completely different beast.

The way AC layers melodies and rhythms on top of each other can only be described as brilliant.

For example, take Fireworks, IMHO, the best piece on the album.

It's energetic, and whimsical, depressing, and beautiful at the same time. It's just a flood of emotion that can't really be
easily put into words.

This song made me cry. CRY.

Anyway, enough of that.

You should go listen to it yourself, and make your own judgement, because this is a very, very subjective group.
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