Music these days is all over the place. From Diplo to Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings to Kings of Leon to Kid Cudi. It's hard to say these artists are good but much more; it's harder to say that you actually like their music. When it comes to Avey Tare (of Animal Collective) and Sufjan Stevens I have a hard time grasping the overall impact and concepts they are trying to get across with their latest releases. I respect both of these artists for the work they have done and where they have been able to take music in regards to crossing boundaries and opening doors where they haven't existed before.
Age of Adz, Sufjan Steven's latest release and his first full length album since 2005s Illinois, is more avant-garde than John Coltrane and Charlie Parker in the 1950s. The album is electronically based but has classical strings sewn through its technological pinging. I'll have to say that I have never really been much of a Sufjan fan. I will say that "All Things Go" is one of the best songs of the last decade and is brilliant, but I can't give him solid praise throughout his catalog. The absolutely ridiculous ending track is 25 minutes long, a polar-swinger, with tinges of Illinois and the electro-classical he used on the rest of an album. He is ahead of his time with this album. The world isn't ready for the multiple-layered music that creates a musical schizophrenia on every track. Maybe five or six years down the road half of albums released will be based on the musical foundation of Age of Adz, regardless this album is too hard to take in right now.
Sufjan Stevens - Vesuvius
Animal Collective is one of the best groups out there today. It's comprised of Panda Bear, Avey Tare, Geologist, and Deacon. I don't know if the band is trying to have a competition with solo careers right now, with Panda Bear working on a 2011 release and two 7" singles already released, Tare's Down There, and Deakin working his name into the mix as well. Whatever the case they need to reconvene and produce a follow up to 2009s Merriweather Post Pavilion. Tare, a founding member of the band, experiments with noise and silence through inflections of odd electronic sounds but leaves the listener feeling empty-handed. He takes the weirdness of Animal Collective to a new level on Down There. Some songs sound like a jumbled mess of dead sound and others have a hint of flow and predictability but outside of these sparse occurrences the album is a lame duck. It may spark philosophical debate on the legitimacy of the noise genre as a legitimate category to place music or just a name given to sounds thought to be music. I'll be interested to see what the Best New Music review of Down There will receive from Pitchfork; you know it's going to happen because it's new, just like Age of Adz recently received.
Avey Tare - Lucky 1