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Animal Collective drops a real live one

Pop

Animal Collective, Live at 9:30 (Domino) Animal Collective’s ornate post-pop studio recordings – all stacked vocal arrangements, call-and-response figures, instrumental tracks that sound like they were recorded via a microphone placed strategically on the moon, and the sort of histrionics that suggest a designer drug-addled hipster run amok on a MacBook – don’t suggest that the trio of Baltimore musicians would be much of a live band. Fans who’ve been lucky enough to catch the group in concert know differently, however – Animal Collective is a tour de force on stage, an outfit eager to take chances and reinterpret its own material in real time, and in a sense, a group that applies jam-band principles to what is essentially alternative pop music. All of this makes “Live at 9:30” – tracked at the Washington club of the same name, and a tribute to the very concert venue Animal Collective’s members experienced game-changing shows as young’uns – a jubilant masterstroke. It’s also a space-filler, since AC has been working on a new album for quite some time now, a process no doubt waylaid by the abundant extra-band musical affairs being carried on by the three members. Whatever the impetus for its release, “9:30” is an essential addition to the Animal Collective collection. It proves that the three are not just a bunch of nerds carefully constructing music in a home laboratory, but rather, are a living, breathing band eager to take chances in front of an audience. 3 stars (Jeff Miers)

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