Release Date: Apr 8, 2014
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Most of the time, if the co-founder of a highly beloved band with a mighty catalogue of nine studio albums forms a ‘jazz power trio’ named Slasher Flicks, it’s a bit of a surprise - to put it very mildly. It’s normally a fair reaction to at least consider the possibility that they wandered into a horror movie convention, ate a few too many space cakes, and turned a bit loopy. In the world of Animal Collective’s Avey Tare, where avant-garde equals normality, it’s the most natural progression imaginable.
The latest side project of Animal Collective's Avey Tare (born Dave Portner) chaotically fuses his love of horror films and campy funhouses. Enlisting the help of long-time girlfriend Angel Deradoorian (formerly of Dirty Projectors) and ex-Ponytail drummer Jeremy Hyman, Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks are obviously cut from the same cloth as AC (read heavily effected vocals and otherworldly samples) but with a focus on straight-shooting pop melodies, many of which come courtesy of Deradoorian's synth lines. For instance, standout track Little Fang sounds as if it's equally inspired by 60s garage-pop bands, disco and the ghostly sounds emanating from a decrepit state fair haunted house.
David Portner, better known as Avey Tare of the essential psych-pop outfit Animal Collective, has always been a man who revels in musical eccentricities. On early Animal Collective works like Feels, Portner’s vocals bounce frantically around the listener’s head and perfectly counter the outlandish soundscapes in which they’re embedded. On Portner’s previous solo work Down There, the work was mired by dark aesthetics; the buoyant tendencies of his Animal Collective musings were nowhere to be found and had been traded out for introspective spurts of self-loathing.
An eerie ode to the supernatural sides of Carpenter and Craven, Animal Collective’s Avey Tare proudly presents his Slasher Flicks, joined by fellow East–West Coast transplants Angel Deradoorian (Dirty Projectors) and Jeremy Hyman (Ponytail, Dan Deacon). A ghostly specter of their new LA neighbor (in name and, sometimes, style and sound) Ariel Pink, fans of Animal Collective may enter the Slasher House and revel in Tare’s fun-sized treats, but others might be too disappointed by the tricks, remaining contented with the Haunted Graffiti next door. .
Head here to submit your own review of this album. The album title, the name of the band and the creepy cover artwork suggest that this debut album from Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks is going to be a homage to horror films of a bygone era - the low budget gore often witnessed on wobbly VHS tapes. However, despite some eerie moments, this is no journey to the dark side.
Centipede Hz may have been Animal Collective’s response to unwittingly becoming a Top 20-charting act, but the subsequent tours behind the record revealed there was, in fact, a limit to their perpetual game of playing hard-to-get. Where the quartet has traditionally treated concerts as public practice sessions to air out works-in-progress, their 2012-13 setlists charitably balanced out the Hz with the hits (meaning that the band’s newer fans no longer had to dial up YouTube clips from 2007 to experience “My Girls” in a live setting). This generous spirit seems to have carried over to primary vocalist Dave “Avey Tare” Portner’s current interim pursuit, which offers a glimpse of the kind of band Animal Collective could be if they gave into populist demand more often.
Animal Collective fans have long been divided into two camps, depending on whether they prefer the mellifluous melodies and sun-soaked samples of Noah Lennox (a. k. a.
Avey Tare’s first solo album, 2010’s ‘Down There’, was an attempt to work through the break-up of his marriage. The Animal Collective member’s second, ‘Enter The Slasher House’, can hardly be considered a sequel. Written high on fever and recorded with Dirty Projectors’ Angel Deradoorian on guitars and Ponytail’s Jeremy Hyman on drums, this bunch of bawdy tunes screams escapism more than it does self-exploration.
Horror movies have been a key inspiration for Dave Portner (aka Avey Tare) since he and the group of friends, who would eventually become Animal Collective, met in high school bonding over psychedelic drugs, Pavement, and the gritty dread of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Even in their most blissed-out moments of acoustic acid folk, Animal Collective tempered their joy with more sinister, paranoid undercurrents lifted from the tense atmospheres and disorienting editing of low-budget horror films. It's fitting then that this project takes its namesake directly from those inspirations.
Animal Collective's Dave Portner said his new solo effort, Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks, was inspired by horror films, like the name implies. The bad news is that if he meant Enter the Slasher House to sound scary, he pretty much failed. The good news is, that doesn't make it a bad record at all. In fact, it's as fun as any Animal Collective record, and even a bit lighter.
Harmony-happy Panda Bear has always been Animal Collective's solo star, but now it's yelpy co-founder Avey Tare's time to shine. Slasher Flicks, his new side project with ex-Dirty Projector Angel Deradoorian and ex-Ponytail drummer Jeremy Hyman, has nothing to do with horror films and much to do with warped psychedelic rock. The layered, groove-centric arrangements on their debut LP can be confusingly complex at times, but there's always accessible, sun-soaked pop within.
Enter the Slasher House is immediately different from Avey Tare’s solo debut, 2010’s Down There. That one was a personal exorcism for the Animal Collective member, whereas Enter the Slasher House is the work owes a lot to its other members, Angel Deedorian (of Dirty Projectors fame) and Jeremy Hyman (of Ponytail and Dan Deacon fame). Hell, I’d say that the latter is the most important member of Enter the Slasher House, as Hyman often seems to be singlehandedly propelling songs to where they need to go.
Having released a solo album, Down There, in 2010, Animal Collective guitarist Avey Tare has decided to go down the indie supergroup route for the follow-up, recruiting Dirty Projectors' bass player and Dan Deacon's drummer. The results are passable enough, leftfield indie. Indeed, throughout the album you're rarely more than six seconds from something that sounds like an offcut from MGMT's Oracular Spectacular, only all too often shorn of the chart-bothering hooks.
A lot of Animal Collective records are failures. That is, failures in terms of translating the band’s initial intentions to the finished recordings. Centipede Hz was supposed to be a return to live arrangements, but Avey Tare has admitted that wasn’t what that record ended up being. And Strawberry Jam was inspired by the processed gloop in those little sachets of jam you get on planes.
As part of Animal Collective for the last 15 years, Avey Tare has helped to reimagine pop music; covering it with countless layers of avant-garde innovation. While Tare's band mate Noah Lennox took his Panda Bear solo project down avenues that saw him apply minimal techno's song structure to pop (and possibly sample the Lion King on his latest track Marijuana Makes My Day), Tare has ploughed a furrow much closer to his work with the Baltimore group. Indeed, at times, Enter the Slasher House feels like a carbon copy of Animal Collective, replete with effects-soaked hazy vocals mashed against high-tempo art-pop.
You might know Avey Tare aka David Portner from Animal Collective (hint: he’s not Panda Bear, Deakin or Geologist). He writes a pretty significant number of that band’s songs – eight on their last record, Centipede Hz, for example. For Slasher Flicks, he’s hooked up with former Dirty Projectors bassist/keyboardist Angel Deradoorian, and ex-Ponytail drummer Jeremy Hyman.
Anyone who’s seen ODDSAC, the 2010 visual album from Animal Collective, should be able to gather that Avey Tare and his friends have a pretty healthy relationship with horror films. Not that the thing was exclusively creepy, but there were lingering shots of walls oozing with a blood-adjacent substance, a vampiric entity wandering through a dark forest, bursts of unexpected noise to make you jump, and close-ups on unidentifiable organic matter to make you squirm. But then again, much like their music (think the meow-ing end of “Leaf House”), there was also an element of the cartoon-ish, something childlike that made the scares that much more thrilling, but also brought some genuine joy to the proceedings.
There is a reason why the supergroup Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks’ new album is called Enter The Slasher House. The band—Animal Collective’s Avey Tare, ex-Dirty Projectors member Angel Deradoorian and ex-Ponytail drummer Jeremy Hyman—provide deliberate horror movie imagery from the get-go. And the music’s fairly spooky too. But beyond that, the album is structured in a way that sounds like the perfect soundtrack for walking into a movie-style slasher house or scary carnival backlot.
Horror is the most difficult of genres to achieve greatness in. 90% of all horror films are either flimsy, tedious or filled with totally hackneyed cliché. To give cinema-goers a genuine fright these days takes some doing as audiences have become passive in the face of the supernatural and desensitised to human violence. But for the 10% who manage to give you the genuine creeps, creating a sinister paranoia that plagues your conscious and unconscious mind for days, if not weeks, afterwards, horror can be a sadistically thrilling experience.
Dave ‘Avey Tare’ Portner’s solo work has, so far, paled when placed next to that of his Animal Collective partner Panda Bear. The latter’s 2007 album Person Pitch was a gentle revelation, submerging tumbling Beach Boys-style vocal harmonies in deep lagoons of echo and reverb, a sound that Animal Collective would further explore and expand on their breakthrough album Merriweather Post Pavilion. Portner, meanwhile, has used his solo beat to explore gloomy catharsis (see 2010’s Down There) and bewildering sonic trickery (2007’s “backwards album” Pullhair Ribeye, recorded with then wife Kria Brekkan of the group Múm), the results occasionally diverting but next to the work of his parent group, hardly memorable.
Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks Enter the Slasher House (Domino) Enough time has elapsed since the last Animal Collective LP that the solo albums are bound to start trickling in. Panda Bear and Geologist are planning their next moves, but L.A.-based Avey Tare introduces the band's next chapter with his second solo album, Enter the Slasher House, a burbling psychedelic rain forest that harks back to the vintage wood nymph traditions that once defined the AnCo legacy. Technicolor electro drum circle "Your Card," the yippy, rambling "Duplex Trip," and delectable and addictive "Little Fang" make a case for Tare's throaty voice over Panda Bear's distant echoes, much the same way Merriweather Post Pavilion trumps the most recent Centipede Hz.
opinion by PETER TABAKIS < @ptabakis > Animal Collective have become something akin to a Marvel Studios franchise – minus the blockbuster sales and broad cultural impact, that is. Like the mighty Avengers of the multiplex, the members of Animal Collective assemble for flagship releases, but also inhabit a shared universe when off adventuring alone. Though the quality of their individual efforts occasionally rivals those of the team, and their quests often go to oddball places, there’s always a heavy whiff of familiarity.