Tomboy (Paw Tracks)
Baltimore native Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear) specializes in expansive soundscapes buttressed by sturdy minimalism and sunny melodies. In fact, he’s perfected that approach with his much-lauded band, Animal Collective, and, now, as a solo artist. Lennox’s previous disc, 2007’s Person Pitch, set the bar so high, quality-wise, that its follow-up seemed destined to disappoint. So instead of replicating its symphonic clatter, Lennox channels his inner-Beach Boy and surfs a swell of bubbling keyboards and gently pulsating drums through 11 songs that rise subtly but never crest. Instead, they echo the best of Lennox’s previous efforts and—especially on trance-inducing gems like “Slow Motion” and “Afterburner”—ripple toward a horizon that remains blissfully out of reach.
Animal Collective plays Merriweather Post Pavilion—the venue that inspired the title of the band’s latest CD—on July 9. Also, check out my blog for a recent interview with Animal Collective.
This folk-y local trio makes stark music that unfolds at a snail’s pace. The songs often come to a near halt as acoustic guitar mingles with Bob Keal’s hushed vocals, before ambling into territory occupied by the likes of Will Oldham or an unplugged Wye Oak. In fact, Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack make cameos here, and their presence enriches, but doesn’t exactly enliven, the proceedings. That’s because Small Sur seems totally committed to an understated sense of beauty that, at a time when other bands are looking to shock, seems downright heroic.
Small Sur plays a CD release party at Metro Gallery on July 7.