February 4, 2010

Indie Week: Animal Kingdom

animal kingdom are four

geoff, wayne, hamish, rich

skins, strings and sings

currently holed up somewhere cold and westward

they make wintery music that's strange, dark and beautiful

when it's done, you should come have a listen

That's the official bio for the band. It's been written in verse for some reason. You can probably tell Animal Kingdom already has a unique personality of their own. And they've got music to match.

Here's the review of their debut album "Signs and Wonders":

1. "Good Morning Mr. Magpie"- The only way to describe how the album starts off is 'lovely.' It's got a catchy tune and nice vocals, plus I'm loving the percussion. This could, if it's not already, easily be a single.

2. "Signs and Wonders"- Not many albums open with the title track as track two. When they say their music is strange and beautiful, they're not kidding. The xylophone really gives it a magical quality, while the guitar is very melodic. Sauberlich's voice is quite unique in a good way. I find that title tracks are often misleading. You think they're going to be great because the album is named after then, but often they're just another track. This, however, is one of the best title tracks I've ever heard.

3. "Tin Man"- If the first three tracks are anything to go by, this album is already a winner. The first single released from the album is a fantastic track. Again, singles can often be misleading. I frequently find myself listening to an album and liking the non-single tracks better. This one rocks. It's catchy, atmospheric, and even the concept of the song is admirable.

4. "Silence Summons You"- Interesting acoustic opening that makes me think of the wide open roads. This must be the ballad of the album. But it's pretty good for a ballad.

5. "Into the Sea"- Oh man, the piano reminds me of Keane. Awesome. This song is especially melodious. Man, this is a good one.

6. "Two By Two"- There's not much I can say at this point, except this is another great track. Vaguely reminiscent of Coldplay.

7. "Home"- Another Keane-y track, though Keane isn't very guitar heavy. Not that that's a bad thing. It's a slower track, but very atmospheric. Especially the guitar. It builds up to a nice ending.

8. "Walls of Jericho"- Ha, the opening reminds me of surf rock. I keep loving the guitar and percussion throughout the CD, and it's no exception here. This song is kind of musical narrative. It's pretty cool. Some nice harmonization at the end.

9. "Mephistopheles"- Oh boy, this one's starts really slow. This could either end badly or awesomely. As it turns out, it's awesome. It's a haunting tune combined with poetic vocals. It's almost more like spoken word than singing.

10. "Yes Sir, Yes Sir"- Interesting vocals on this one. They seem... distant and somewhat ambient. Very interesting. This song is just a bit repetitive up until the end, but then the end sounds of place. It becomes some sort of strange rock samba.

11. "Dollar Signs"- Minimal opening with vocals and guitar, that build up into something really... majestic? I feel like I'm floating through the night. Usually, I find these slow tracks pretty boring, but this one is like going on a journey. It reminds me of something. Coldplay again? I'm not sure.

12. "Chalk Stars"- This song feels like an extension of the last one to start out with. That's kind of cool, I suppose. Oh boy, the xylophone is back! I believe this song was also a single. While it sounds pretty good, there are stronger tracks on the album to make into singles. I can see why it's the last track, though. It has an air of closing about it. I really do like the xylophone, though. I really gives the impression of stars, as the xylophone often does for some reason. Oh, but then half way in the piano comes back. With the xylophone!? Whoa. This song just turned into something beautiful. Oh my God, they've got strings too!? Now all they need is a chorus... No chorus, but still, the latter half of the song is a thing of beauty.

So, yeah, I most definitely recommend Animal Kingdom. Highly. Their music can best be described as melodic and atmospheric. As far as debut albums go, this is one of, if not the, best I've ever heard. You can listen to the album in its entirety on the band's website, if there's still any doubt in your mind as to whether you should pick up the CD or not.

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