Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What the Early Stream of Centipede Hz Means

It's not the biggest of surprises the enigmatic Animal Collective chose to stream their newest album, Centipede Hz, nearly two weeks before its release date, using an internet "radio station." Frank Ocean did the same exact thing, although Ocean chose to just go ahead and release his proper debut, in its entirety, for digital downloads. Animal Collective's Geologist spoke with Spin on why the band is streaming the record, saying, "It's not like we're totally trying to beat the clock. It's a way of being like 'Can we beat the clock, but not just beat the clock for beating the clock's sake? But do it in a way that feels like it has been lost. Recapture that a little bit.'" He went on to express that it doesn't matter if people see the early release as a marketing ploy because, at a certain point, you can't control what people think. This feels like something a band such as Animal Collective has always known, being as mercurial as they are.

Obviously the early stream will have an effect on how the album is received. Stereogum has been hosting a comment party on the stream and, most importantly, the critics that will soon review the release get an extra two weeks with it, something that the band can only benefit from. Animal Collective have a dense veil around their music, one that can seem strange and alien to most listeners. But the internet has allowed the band to prosper. The more avant-garde music reviewers are found on the internet, those who have praised the band since its earlier releases. Although Entertainment Weekly did name 2009's Merriweather Post Pavilion as its best of the year, now every critic, small and large publication, will have a chance to let the music absorb and digest. The band is using the same exact tool that has allowed them to pull off such a stunt and have it ring in such a large echo chamber.

There are definitive drawbacks to allowing the public in so early, as the internet never fails to prove. Although Geologist tried to avoid any and all publicity stunt accusations, he couldn't foresee how the public would receive fan's reactions to other band's, Grizzly Bear's twitter account attests; seems convoluted, but it's a much less complicated story. Grizzly Bear, a band that competed with Merriweather in 2009 with the critically lauded Veckatimest, tweeted this, saying it didn't have a radio station to stream their new album Shields, set for a release almost two weeks from AnCo's. What seemed like an obvious joke was misinterpreted, a thousand times over, by the internet's most avid music fans as a shot at Animal Collective's early stream. Grizzly Bear then followed up the witch hunt with this and this, thus defusing anything that might happen to be interesting. Hey, music beefs have always been interesting, back when they would result in shootings or tragedies; turmoil will always drive a fiercer competition, sometimes spilling over into actual violence. I obviously don't condone or endorse any deaths, I'm strictly speaking from an entertainment point of view.

It seems like Animal Collective accomplished what they, and everyone on the internet, wanted: more time with an exciting release. Maybe all the major publications, like Entertainment Weekly, just needed to get to know the band's music a little more before they fully committed. I know I will certainly have fun tripping out to Centipede Hz while watching Abby Portner's visuals.

So, the only thing left for you to decide is what you think about the release. You can stream it here. And feel free to comment below what you think.

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