April 28th, 2009


Review of Good or Plenty, Streets + Avenues

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The first decade of the twenty-first century is almost over, and we still consider the post-rock reservoir of musical innovation to be pure folly. Though there are still bands that can interpret the sounds of Mogwai & Co. with extreme precision and dignity (see “our” Port Royal, the Low Frequency in Stereo, This Will Destroy You and a few others), it is undeniable that the vast majority of contemporary post-rock is marked by what can only be termed a mannerist period.


Precisely because of these considerations, the work of Kevin Micka (formerly of the Common Cold) and his Animal Hospital takes on a more pronounced value because it manages to escape from the net of label support, showing an attitude that reminds us of another time, about fifteen years back, when post-rock was anything but a simple genre, instead representing a global transformation of music.

Five years after he started his official one man band, in 2009 this Boston feels that he has lots to say, releasing two albums in short order: “Memory” (published in early March by Barge recordings), and the latest “Good or Planty, Streets + Avenues.” The latter contains a number of tracks recorded by Kevin in an off-handed manner between 2007 and 2008, which were only later collected in a single record.

And it is perhaps because of this extemporaneous quality that the full expressive power of Animal Hospital is unleashed here, that after the intro of “We can” invades our senses, “Nevel Moments” opens with a visionary drone-folk imbued the best of Roy Montgomery. The slight sway and move of “March and June,” calibrated by the beautiful voice of Katharine Fisk Shields, pleasantly recalls the atmosphere of winking Aerial M, while the quasi-fennesziana “11:18:07″ with its harsh environment and “What If They Are Friendly” appear to be symptoms of a deviated isolationism and convulsive. The electroacoustic interlude of “Good or plenty” then ferries in the final part of the disc, which is more properly post-rock. “Define” is poised between Tortoise on the one hand, and Fly Pan Am on the other, while “Barnyard Creeps” recalls the valuable with elaborate textures of Windsor for the Derby sometimes topped with glimmers of noise, and the concluding “Labor Day” is an array of environmental and noisy psychedelic abstraction which seems vaguely reminiscent of the settled cosmic country of Rex. The post-rock of the 90′s was an open laboratory for testing and contamination: Animal Hospital has revived that spirit and the rest of us will never be grateful enough.

(The above article was translated from the original Italian by the editors with the help of Google Translate. We apologize for any mistakes. If you are interested, the original article can be found here.)