04 - Plants And Animals - Feedback In The Field.mp3
05 - Plants And Animals - À L'orée Des Bois.mp3
06 - Plants And Animals - New Kind Of Love.mp3
07 - Plants And Animals - Early In The Morning.mp3
08 - Plants And Animals - Mercy.mp3
09 - Plants And Animals - Sea Shanty.mp3
10 - Plants And Animals - Keep It Real.mp3
11 - Plants And Animals - Guru.mp3
Plants And Animals - Parc Avenue .m3u
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Arising from the same musical tree as fellow Canadian Patrick Watson, Plants and Animals are a very sophisticated, arty group that meld a wide arrange of influences. The bombastic, orchestral opener "Bye Bye Bye" could be considered a melding of the Polyphonic Spree, Devendra Banhart, and the Beatles, but the band nails the song perfectly. Walking such a fine tightrope though for an entire album could be a mistake, so fortunately the group offers up a panoramic plate of styles, especially on the groovy, prog rock feel of "Good Friend" that recalls a mellower version of the Flaming Lips. The lone snag with the track might be how string-laced and rich it becomes to close. The first true taste of classic, hippie-tinged prog rock is "Faerie Dance," a slow, plodding track that might be the yin to Black Mountain's yang. The group are quite adept at changing moods, especially on the roots-riddled "Feedback in the Field" that sounds to be heavily influenced by early Neil Young. The record has a sizeable amount of drama or gravitas as well, evidenced by "A L'oree Des Bois," which changes into a rather ethereal effort three-quarters of the way in. One of the highlights here is the nearly eight-minute waltz-rock approach behind "New Kind of Love" which screams to be covered by the Arcade Fire. Probably the biggest disappointment is the messy "Mercy" which veers from a dance-driven Afro-beat format into some haunting guitar instrumental à la Explosions in the Sky. They more than atone for it with the majestic and regal "Keep It Real."
Do you ever hear an album for the first time and get this tingly feeling—you know, the sort of immediate reaction that necessitates getting on the phone and telling whomever will listen about the fantastic new release you’ve just put on? That hasn’t happened to me for some time, but I couldn’t help becoming a little giddy as I gave Parc Avenue, the debut full-length release from Plants and Animals, an introductory listen.
Maybe it’s that warm and fuzzy sense of solidarity that comes with being on the bandwagon for an anticipated release, as Parc Avenue has been the recipient of a good deal of positive hype lately, but I was sold on this album pretty much instantly (though I could also be rebounding from feeling left out by the whole Panda Bear fascination—it just didn’t resonate with me).
Admittedly, I completely missed With/Avec, the last Plants and Animals EP. In fact, all I’d previously heard from the Montréal outfit was the sprawling and messy “Jacques,” off of their 2005 debut self-titled EP. Unfortunately, while the loose instrumental vibe inherent in that song endeared the band to me, they fell off my radar shortly after. Cut to 2008 and Parc Avenue sees the same cataclysmic exuberance tightened and applied to more focused ends—not to mention brimming with capable and melodic vocals (the more delicate of which sounding not unlike Tyler Messick of the Museum Pieces). The resulting combination is less acoustic Do Make Say Folk and more roots-filled Broken Social Scene meets Traffic (take the excellent “Feedback in the Field” for example).
Of course, by this point I really ought to just throw out the comparisons (there have been far too many already—just like these damn asides) and judge the album on its own merits, as it’s a very rewarding listen. Speaking of which, one quality definitely worth mentioning is Parc Avenue’s diversity. In keeping with the occasional delicacy of their past efforts, the album is rife with serene doses of melody (“Early in the Morning” for instance) while also kicking out some seriously groovy and rollicking jams (“Mercy”)—a trade-off that is well represented on the alternately bombastic and delicate “Keep it Real.”
In the end i (heart) music said it best by articulating that Plants and Animals have found an admirable way to combine “unabashed ambition with unashamed accessibility.” I also wholeheartedly agree that Parc Avenue is undoubtedly Polaris bound. Of course, more importantly, it brought back those musical butterflies that I forgot were possible.
Montreal's music scene is like a clown car: just when you think it couldn't possibly have room to contain any more talent, some more emerge. The City of Saints can already lay claim to Billboard chart-toppers (Arcade Fire), Polaris Prize winners (Patrick Watson), punky Francophone ambassadors (We Are Wolves), no-wave revivalists (Les George Leningrad), noise rockers (AIDS Wolf), rappers (Gage), electro-funk party-starters (Chromeo) worldly indie pranksters (Islands), plus all the members of Wolf Parade and their many side projects. And now it can add ambitious, sun-baked trio Plants And Animals to the ranks of its growing community of celebrated musicians.
Like a distant Canadian cousin of Blitzen Trapper, this three-piece spins shaggy songs into expansive, genre-bending symphonies. And though last year's too-brief With/Avec EP hinted at Plants and Animals' expansiveness, it didn't fully prepare listeners for Parc Avenue, a sprawling collection of rootsy melodies, majestic arrangements, and classic rock riffs that owes as much to jam-band psychedelia and it does to delicately orchestrated chamber-folk.
The album kicks off with "Bye Bye Bye", which sounds, initially, like a Coldplay ballad led by Neil Young. But, mere seconds into the song, it explodes into a choral epic built on a foundation of jaunty pianos and embellished with plangent autoharp runs and bursts of stately brass. Tellingly, the track's infectious climax is more satisfying because it comes in fits and starts, its anthemic build interrupted several times by quiet interludes of noodley folk.
That, in short, is Plants And Animals. They offer up explosive, Polyphonic Spree-sized choir choruses, 1970s AM radio guitars, cozy folk balladry, and rambling stoner boogie-often in the course of one song-- and switch between them with little warning. Many of their songs clock in at over five minutes long, but that's all the better for them to pick up steam, stylistically mutate, or expand. "Faerie Dance", which also appeared on the EP, explores multiple genres and tempos within its seven-minute run. Its dreamy opening is marked by ethereal backing vocals, but then gives way to a wiry, disorienting guitar melody that churns in opposition to melodramatic strings. Just when you've given in to its post-rock vertigo, a lackadaisically strummed guitar pushes the tune into slacker-blues territory à la Mellow Gold. Likewise, the album's centerpiece, "Mercy", marries a Phish-like guitar vamp and jazzy, cymbal-heavy drumming to Go-Team!-ish cheerleader chants and handclaps. Saxophone belches add some welcome hard-edges to the loosey-goosey jam, and singer Warren Spicer offers, as counterpoint to the chipper cheering, a growling Sean Connery impression.
Spicer's lithe tenor, in fact, proves malleable over the course of the album, adapting to dispassionate talk-singing, raggedy country warbling, and arty, dramatic vibrato. His Beck impersonation on "Faerie Dance" is followed by "Feedback in the Field", on which he cops a convincing Tom Petty accent ("Somethin' in the air to-nye-ite"). "New Kind of Love" begins like a spare Iron & Wine ballad, but builds to theatrical, Arcade Fire levels of orchestral splendor. And on "Sea Shanty"-- which starts out like Ryan Adams' "Amy", minus the confessional self-pity, and evolves into meandering Lynyrd Skynyrd-style Southern rock-- Spicer is able to affect a honeyed croon.
From its scrawled, lower-case liner notes (complete with mistakes and cross-outs) to its sound, everything about Parc Avenue feels homemade. Its analog recording, which took place, in part, in Spicer's apartment, crackles with warmth and intimacy, and because the guest artists who fill out these orchestrations (including Arcade Fire/Bell Orchestre's Sarah Neufeld) are friends of the band, a sense of camaraderie prevails. Plants and Animals may not be the first band to put Montreal on the musical map, but, with this album's there's-no-place-like-home vibe, they are certainly the first to celebrate it so warmly
Artist: Plants and Animals
Album: Parc Avenue
Date Of Release: 2008
Bitrate: VBR --alt-preset extreme