Raccoo-oo-oon - Behold Secret Kingdom (Release the Bats CD)

This band is way too easy to hate. They got major league hype and then all sorts of backlash and it's kinda gone so far in reverse that I almost feel bad for them in a way (not that they need my sympathy or nothin'). And at the same time, I also hold them in contempt. First of all they remind me Animal Collective, a band whose name I'm even loathe to type because they inspire so many bad feelings in my guts. Then they have that dreadful band name which was probably invented by Panda Bear or Gentle Hawk or whoever from Animal Collective. Then their press photos typically rock that outdoorsy/in touch with nature/faux-hippie pastiche...oh dear. I was trying to come up with a term I could use to assess/slander these kinds of bands and "Wal-Mart psychedelia" was the best I could do, and pretty fitting I think. So why bother with the "Behold Secret Kingdom"? Did I merely listen to the album and write about them in my blog only to trash them? It may seem like that, but wait! It's not what you think!
Truth be told, I want to like Raccoo-oo-oon, in spite of just about everything about them. I listened to (and reviewed) their last CD on Release the Bats, "Is Night People", and it had some pretty inspired moments. Well, "Behold Secret Kingdom" is more of the same. This group is (was) billed as a psychedelic-punk-something-or-other band, but god knows they don't hit on those moments often enough. If they really were as psychedelic and as punk and as earth-lovin' as their press releases would have them to believe, they could be my favorite band. However, this record was recorded and produced with a sickeningly bright sheen to it, negating almost any supposed air of punk ethos, while most of the psychedelia is the kind of rehearsed looseness that drives me up the wall, like anybody is dumb enough to believe these tracks are as off-the-cuff as the band would have you believe. But as I said, there are moments. Moments when the shackles come off and my preconceived notions fly out the window and I ask "why can't they play like this the whole 50 minutes?" - "Mirror Blanket" is a pop song at its core and functions exactly the same way as "Fluff Up Your Fur" did prior, building an insanely catchy rock rhythm via swirling guitars and dedicated drumming, topped off with a buzzing free electronic buzz wailing over top. The cooing and yelling and moaning is a bit much, but what the hell, might as well take it all the way home now that we're here. The same naive vocal tricks taint the otherwise enjoyable "Invisible Sun", a colossal stoner rock riff-laden anthem, and "Visage of the Fox", which is a pretty lame xylophone/drum/etc jam until another it lands in the throes of more sludgy riffing and world-beating drums that Brian Chippendale could be proud of. "Fangs and Arrows" brings more heavyosity, again courtesy Ryan Garbes meaty percussion, far and away the best thing these guys have going for them. At times his thundering, apocalyptic crashes are the only things keeping the songs afloat, particularly when they get bogged down too much in kitschy campfire jams (see: almost every part of the album I didn't mention), which is my main sticking point with "Behold Secret Kingdom" and indeed the band as a whole. Ditch the grating "whoa we're just a coupla bros jammin' in the forest wearing dirty jeans and beads" shtick with the overdramatic vocals and jangling and zany instruments and stick to the balls-to-the-walls, fucked up, psychedelic, punk rock jams! Then we'll be buds! As for a recommendation...well if you think Animal Collective is the most avant-garde shit around and you bump it playing Wii Sports snacking down on Mountain Dew while wearing ankle socks...have I got a record for you!

Visage of the Fox
Diamonds in the Dunes


Anonymous Joseph said...

And it seemed for a minute there like you might warm up to them...

6/20/2007 9:19 AM  
Anonymous Hubajube said...

I'm with you on many of your likes and dislikes, and I can see the reasoning behind your Animal Collective hatred. Still, they've got something to offer. They're at their best precisely when they're not being avant. Feels is just good pop music.

6/20/2007 10:19 AM  
Blogger Nater said...

You should check out their latest Woodsist LP. I liked it better than this one, actually

6/20/2007 11:40 AM  
Anonymous james said...

You'll be receiving a cease and desist letter from my lawyers.

I coined "WALther-MART psychedelia" to refer your Tim Walther (of All Good Festival/Walther Productions/run-of-the-mill jamband fame) bands. I'll let it slide here, brah.

So there was backlash towards Racoo-oo-oon? From who? Silly scenesters...great band. Good albums...killer live.

6/20/2007 11:47 AM  
Blogger jared said...

sockless is the only way to be

6/20/2007 3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The big trend these days is to name your band after an animal and put a bunch of Native American imagery on your album art. Trust-funders.

6/20/2007 9:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i went to walmart today but they must have been all out of this one, so i picked tup the subpop wolf eyes stuff instead.

6/21/2007 5:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

does anybody else see some irony in this review? Outer Space Gamelan and the dude is ripping on the kitche, appropriated aesthetics of borrowing from cultural backgrounds not one's own? or even referencing them? seems like the same gripes would apply to the whole of underground music right now which could stretch along ways back to the origins of everything spun from rock and roll.

+ these dudes are from IOWA for god's sake, its a rural state, there is shit going on there. Maybe some of there aesthetics actually apply.

would be cool for these dudes if some of that mysterious internet hype translated to people actually coming to see them on tour, but sadly I don't think its the case, at least for the most part, and I know they are touring alot.

6/22/2007 12:02 AM  
Blogger Outer Space Gamelan said...

Shit dudes, I throw down 200 positive reviews for everything else on the planet, then I barely pick on one band and everybody's up in arms. I gotta do this more often.

In the meantime, go bug Tom Lax. At least I gave em a fair shot!

6/22/2007 12:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if you spell like you talk than you must be a douche.
space = new forest. dude's on some 'nother level review bidness. just wait, everyone is gonna be in space next year.
All this aside, I think the real question is: given your expressed fondness for brian wilson, have you scoped the recent panda bear album? I think you should, i'm curious to hear what you think of it (beyond all the typical reviews that just state the obvious). Is it relevant, is it revivalist kitsch, is hermann nitsch the next brian wilson...!

6/22/2007 9:40 PM  
Blogger Outer Space Gamelan said...

And I'll keep deleting comments too. If you can tell me why you hate me and how I ruined your life by not liking Raccoo-oo-oon in a manner that doesn't suggest the I.Q. level of an 8 year old, I won't bother. You're dedicating a lot of time to a blog you supposedly hate though, and I'm awful flattered.

I ignored the new Panda Bear record for a while because, well, you know, but I finally caved and downloaded it...not that I've heard it yet.

6/22/2007 11:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

please dude, calling you a "fagget" doesn't take much time. i read your blog every now and then and am always bowled over by how bad it is. you remind me of rick reilly, the columnist in the back of sports illustrated. a very avuncular/square kind of humor.

i never comment because it didn't bothered me enough, but this one was the last straw. raccoon is totally safe territory, even more so because lax already slammed 'em. yeah, they suck. big deal. you come off like such a condescending prick. for example:

As for a recommendation...well if you think Animal Collective is the most avant-garde shit around and you bump it playing Wii Sports snacking down on Mountain Dew while wearing ankle socks...have I got a record for you!

whoa, killing some sacred cows there. HOW CAN YOU SAY SUCH A THING ABOUT ANIMAL COLLECTIVE???

you started your review by saying that this band is too easy to hate. that's true. you should've written about something else.

so why am i pissed? you give every shitty noise band a good review. for you first negative review ever, you picked the easiest target ever and completely fell on your face in whatever you were trying to accomplish. i'm not even sure if you have taste.

& censoring my comments has only made me think less of you. it's okay, you're the only one i want to reach. what a wuss....

6/23/2007 12:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

also, the way lax did it was FUNNY. the terseness and unfairness of the review was FUNNY. you just sound like a pretentious poofball jackass pandering to the legions of beardos who read your blog.

6/23/2007 12:33 AM  
Blogger Outer Space Gamelan said...

I'm sorry you feel that way.

6/23/2007 1:13 AM  
Blogger kek-w said...

"legions of beardos" - now there's an image LOL!

Yeah, Racoo-oo-oon were killer live, well worth checking...really top guys too. But it's all just opinions - who cares! Keep writing, man...

6/25/2007 4:15 AM  
Blogger Outer Space Gamelan said...

I did hear a great many thing about their live show, I wouldn't be opposed to checking it out if they ever stopped by my area.

6/25/2007 10:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

collect animal poop and a bear shit sand wich

6/30/2007 3:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not really sure why you'd bother with this overhyped shit band when there are some many bands doing creative and awesome things, like scissor shock...

7/15/2007 5:14 PM  
Blogger Outer Space Gamelan said...

Well you know, I'm not very selective.

7/15/2007 5:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

atonal garbage.

7/20/2007 8:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

animal collective can at least write a song, these guys can't even stay in tune. just sayin'

7/20/2007 9:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haha, I found this page by searching "scissor shock". We have weird fans.. - Adam Shock

9/02/2007 8:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

worthless band

12/01/2007 11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

worthless, just wait 5 years when we all look back and laugh that anyone gave this band any attention whatsoever.

5/31/2008 4:05 PM  

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