Line Out Music & the City at Night

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Never Heard of 'Em: The Avalanches

Posted by on Wed, Mar 7, 2012 at 3:45 PM

Editor's note: Anna Minard, the latest addition to The Stranger's editorial gaggle, has never heard any music aside from Richard Marx and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Thus, every Wednesday, we present Never Heard of 'Em, in which we force her to listen to and write her impressions about random records by artists considered to be important by music nerds.

The Avalanches
Since I Left You
(Modular Recordings)

My iTunes called this “rap.” My iTunes is a liar. This is the kind of music that people make by stitching together other people’s music and weird noises, but nobody raps. I’ll call it Frankenmusic. I’m not sure where the line is between something being “electronic” (makes you feel like you’re on drugs?) and being hiphop-ish (it has a certain kind of beat?), but this must be somewhere in there.

The album starts with a party. Everyone’s hanging out, and then they play some music—I think it has a triangle in it, and it might be disco. A lady is singing; I assume this is a “sample,” because she’s just singing the same thing over and over. These guys really seem to like that, people saying the same thing a bunch of times. It happens a lot. It happens a lot. It happens a lot. It happens a lot. It happens a lot. It happens a lot.

Sometimes there are instruments: harps, orchestras. On “Frontier Psychiatrist”—which I now realize I’ve heard before, back when it was on the radio—there’s a choir singing “aaaahhhhhs” while they play a bunch of quotes from TV. And there are horse noises for some reason. Other times it’s just a lot of beeps, and I feel like I’m inside a robot. There’s so much going on, my brain might be too slow for it all. You know what? This is probably awesome for people with ADD.

I think this album is perfect for three situations:

1. You are having a party in your backyard and you’re too lazy to get a friend to DJ it. This is one of those albums where you can’t really tell where one song ends and the next one starts (I definitely listened to the whole thing and then started over at track 1 without ever realizing it), so it’s kind of like having a DJ. And if you just listen to it all the way through, it moves through all the moods of a party.

2. You’re by yourself on a Saturday night, and you decide to get stoned and clean your whole apartment, but you really wish you were at that backyard party instead. All the parts where people are talking and laughing will make you feel like there’s a party at your house, and the weirder non-party bits in the latter half make a perfect time to go fix yourself a fucking epic meal (triple-decker frosting-and-sprinkles sandwich?).

3. You are a robot.

I give this album an “I don't really ‘get it’” out of 10.

Watch the video for "Frontier Psychiatrist" after the cut:


Comments (15) RSS

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Xenos 1
A fantastic album and a personal favorite, though I understand if you don't find it appealing. This sort of thing is admittedly of niche appeal. But where I think you can agree credit should be given for exactly the reasons you note: the tracks weave together seamlessly not only through tone but also theme. This isn't easy.

We begin at a sort of resort/party, become entranced by the dazzling array of diversions, and ultimately overwhelmed through our overconsumption of the delights. By the end, though we may regret the hangover later, our only immediate remorse is over the end of the festivities and those faces you'll strain to recall in the morning.
Posted by Xenos on March 7, 2012 at 11:51 PM · Report this
scary tyler moore 2
that boy needs therapy.
Posted by scary tyler moore on March 8, 2012 at 9:18 AM · Report this
@scary tyler moore

He's crazy in the coconut.
Posted by arbeck on March 8, 2012 at 9:34 AM · Report this
great album start to finish
Posted by Swearengen on March 8, 2012 at 9:37 AM · Report this
Purely psychosomatic.
Posted by abbot312 on March 8, 2012 at 9:38 AM · Report this
I have to say that I am disappointed after the strong opening last week with Suicide's first album.
Posted by Tyler Pierce on March 8, 2012 at 10:00 AM · Report this
LOVE LOVE LOVE this album. I equate listening to it like remembering what a great day you had at the beach when you were 9 years old and you secretly wandered away from the family towel, and in and out of the shops on the crowded boardwalk listening to all the stories around you.
Posted by Tripsta on March 8, 2012 at 10:09 AM · Report this
Grant Brissey, Emeritus 8
@ Tyler: What album do you suggest?
Posted by Grant Brissey, Emeritus on March 8, 2012 at 10:39 AM · Report this
He was white as a sheet... and he also made false teeth.
Posted by kap0w on March 8, 2012 at 12:58 PM · Report this
I think you ought to feed her something "theatrical", since she is a theater critic.
How about John Cale's Paris 1919, or Bobby Conn's Rise Up or MC 900 Foot Jesus' Hell With The Lid Off?

Posted by CATSPAW666 on March 8, 2012 at 1:09 PM · Report this
Grant Brissey, Emeritus 11
@10: We'll be giving her all kinds of stuff. I'll add these to the list!
Posted by Grant Brissey, Emeritus on March 8, 2012 at 1:33 PM · Report this
guided by voices - bee thousand would be a good option
Posted by Swearengen on March 8, 2012 at 4:33 PM · Report this
I'm kinda charmed by some of her reactions, but yeah gonna say
that she doesn't seem into sample-based music. This is my fave
album ever, so that admission is tempered with a whole ton of
patience. Would love to hear her weigh in on At The Drive-In's "Relationship
of Command" or Mr.Bungle's "Callfornia" for the same reason this was


ps Flight two-two is off to Honolulu

Posted by a kid on March 8, 2012 at 9:10 PM · Report this
Epic album.
You should mention they will be dropping their 2nd album after 12 years this year.
Posted by daftande on March 10, 2012 at 3:41 PM · Report this
"Since I Left You" is a beautiful song, and the video is equally impressive. "Frontier Psychiatrist" is great, too. Aside from that, I didn't like too much on the album. Their remixes and unreleased singles are pretty good (At Last Alone).

And of course, they were pretty good when they changed their name to "The Passion Pit" and released "Sleepyhead".
Posted by Joel_are on January 26, 2013 at 1:25 PM · Report this

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