Genius Streaks.

GrizzlyBear-BandAtTable

It took a couple of listens to properly unlock Veckatimest, but when I did, it got me to thinking. Some of this stuff is patent genius. Obviously the first single ‘Two Weeks‘ is one example, but as with Yellow House before it, some of the greatest moments are the ones hiding a little below the surface, popping out when you shine a light into a dusty corner in a room where the door’s been locked and the curtains have been closed for years until now.

Grizzly Bear are clearly one of the best bands working today. And there’s something of a different feeling to getting a great debut album by a new band, who are bringing a refreshing new sound or at least a new twist, than there is to getting the next album by a band in its prime. So Vampire Weekend’s album was exciting, but it’s not yet part of something potential bigger, which will be memorialised in future decades in The Essential Vampire Weekend lists and in XL Classics double album re-issues.

Grizzly Bear might not be there yet, but they’re on the cusp of it. Yellow House has matured into something of a classic already. Veckatimest is, if you haven’t heard it, a little more broad-focused but at this early stage it certainly has the makings of something great too. And then you can factor in the Friend EP, which features some of the band’s best songs (reworked Alligator and Little Brother, cover of He Hit Me), and last year’s In Ear Park by Department of Eagles, a band which features three quarters of Grizzly Bear and shares its primary songwriting force in the form of Daniel Rossen.

Who has a better streak than Rossen’s? Yellow House – In Ear Park – Veckatimest over the course of three years. Who is doing better? Or who has done better?

stanleycup

I considered this out loud earlier on Twitter, but managed to come up with some answers myself.

Better streaks by bands who are still together:

Comparable streaks by bands who are still together:

  • REM – Murmur, Reckoning, Fables of the Reconstruction
  • Spencer Krug – Apologies to the Queen Mary (Wolf Parade), Shut Up I Am Dreaming (Sunset Rubdown), Random Spirit Lover (Sunset Rubdown)

Also, you have these which were suggested by Rory on Twiiter:

  • Panda Bear – Strawberry Jam, Person Pitch, Merriweather Post Pavillion
  • The Cure – Head On The Door, Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, Disintegration
  • Modest Mouse – This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About, Lonesome Crowded West, The Moon and Antarctica

What do you think?

Do you think you have a three album streak that laughs at the ones I’ve posted? I didn’t include broken-up bands in my own, but Rory did, and you can if you like. Let’s see what you’ve got.

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21 responses to “Genius Streaks.

  1. The big one for me is obviously Bends, OK Computer, Kid A but more recently I’d suggest The Hold Steady.

  2. Sleater-Kinney: All Hands on the Bad One, One Beat, The Woods
    Death Cab: Transatlanticism, Plans, Narrow Stairs.
    Kevin Drew: YFIIP, Broken Social Scene, Spirit If…

    god this is fun.

  3. God Karl, The Cure and MM are still putting stuff out.

    The Replacements: Let it Be – Tim – Pleased To Meet Me

    Sonic Youth: Evol – Sister – Daydream Nation – Goo – Dirty

    How the hell did I forget that earlier.

  4. I’d put Satanic Panic on with the Of Montreal one.
    Maybe
    Belle & Sebastian
    Tigermilk-If You’re Feeling Sinister-The Boy With The Arab Strap.
    I’m not too familiar with the last one though, I’ve just heard good things.
    The Pixies?
    Surfer Rosa-Doolittle-Bossanova.
    Once again, not too familiar with the last one, I’m terrible at listening to music.

  5. Sorry Rory, those bands are indeed putting stuff out still. I also neglected to mention your NIN three. I like Daydream Nation – Goo – Dirty though.

    Ian: Can’t believe I forgot Radiohead. I’d take any three from The Bends till In Rainbows as “comparable”, but OK Computer – Kid A – Amnesiac is up there with anything.

    Ana: not on board with DCFC or BSS personally. Sleater-Kinney is interesting though, I only have All Hands On The Bad One but I listened to it again recently and it’s good stuff.

    Seány: Belle and Sebastian could be a good one. Not so sure about Bossanova.

    Trying to think of a good Beatles three, but there’s always a combo-breaker album in there.

  6. just thinking about this today actually…

    Ramones – Ramones, Rocket to Russia, Leave Home, Road to Ruin – all in 1976-78 (they released two albums in ’77, naturally)

    I guess only Animal Collective has been as prolific (in a comparably short space of time) since.

    also, some might say Husker Du – Metal Circus, Zen Arcade and New Day Rising but I’m not a huge fan of the last myself.

  7. When will Darragh get here with a litany of possible GBV combinations?

  8. Karl – I still haven’t got through a whole Of Montreal album in one sitting and Animal Collective albums are all very hit and miss for me.

    Ana – never got into One Beat, and All Hands On The Bad One is abit patchy. The Hot Rock (1999) and the woods(2005) are both are truely outstanding albums.

    My two cents,

    SMOG aka (Smog) aka Bill Callahan
    Knock Knock (1999), Dongs of Sevotion (2000)
    Rain on lens(2001) is fairly naff but he followed it with three more amazing albums Supper (2003) as (Smog), A River Ain’t Too Much to Love (2005) and Woke on a Whaleheart (2007) as Bill Callahan

    Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy
    I See a Darkness (1999),Ease Down the Road (2001) and Master and Everyone (2003)

    Electrelane
    2004: The Power Out, 2005: Axes and 2007: No Shouts, No Calls

    PJ Harvey
    To Bring You My Love (1995),Is This Desire? (1998) and Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (2000)

    Neil Young
    1970 – After the Gold Rush, 1972 – Harvest and 1974 – On the Beach

    Can
    Monster Movie (1969), Soundtracks (1970), Tago Mago (1971) and Ege Bamyasi (1972)

    Godspeed You! Black Emperor
    F♯A♯∞ (1998), Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada ep(1999) and Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven (2000)

    Sonic Youth (different three Lps)
    Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star (1994), Washing Machine (1995) and A Thousand Leaves (1998)

    The Beta Band
    Champion Versions ep (1997), The Patty Patty Sound ep(1998) and Los Amigos del Beta Bandidos ep(1998)
    everything since as be poor, but those three eps are something else.

    I was going to include Oneida but “The wedding” (2005) gets in the way of an amazing three lps, Each One Teach One (2002), Secret Wars (2004) and Happy New Year (2006)

    Sorry there is so many, more kept coming as I typed.

  9. adamthecaptain

    I would defo go
    Bonnie Prince Billy: I See A Darkness, Ease Down The Road,Master and Everyone and Superwolf, with a ‘new recordings of old songs’ album between the last two, which shouldn’t count in the streak. Oh, someone mentioned Will already. Ah well.
    Slayer: Reign In Blood, South of Heaven, Seasons in the Abyss.
    Nirvana: Bleach, Nevermind and In Utero
    Nick Drake’s three albums.
    And a personal, probably unconvincing Wu Tang streak: 36 chambers, Wu Tang Forever and The W.
    Looking at those choicess makes me feel old.

  10. I like Neil Young. Not sure about Nirvana, even though the last two would merit it, and never got in Godspeed, or Will Oldham. Haven’t listened to loads of the others. But I suppose that makes this a place to start playing catch-up.

    As for Animal Collective albums… hit and miss?! Whut?!

    I can understand hating Of Montreal, but the last three Animal Collective albums are on a pedestal…

  11. arguable 5 album streak by built to spill from “there’s nothing wrong with love” to “you in reverse”, although that could just be me being overly complimentary.

  12. adamthecaptain

    You don’t like Nirvana’s Bleach? My word.
    And you should defo try and get listening to Will Oldham, he’s a god.

  13. For me the most obvious answer is Deerhunter and variious their side projects. Grizzly Bear make fantastic albums no doubt, but their work rate isn’t that fast that I’d exactly describe them as being prolific. I thought the EP was ok but more of a remix effort than anything else.

    In the last 3 years Deerhunter have released 3 full albums, 2 EPs, 3 solo albums, a split EP with Jay Reatard and countless free online releases via Bradford’s blog; including EPs, re-workings of their albums, demos, unreleased tracks, mixtapes etc

    This online ‘giveaway’ stuff is hit and miss, but if you look at their offical releases from the last 3 years the quality and pace of their output is bested by no other band right now:

    2007: Cryptograms LP, Flourescent Grey EP
    2008: Microcastle LP, Wierd Era Cont LP (+ 1 solo project album)
    2009: Rainwater Cassette Exchange EP, (+ 2 solo project albums)

    There are a few solo artists I obsess with who have a similar rate/level of quality, though their appeal isn’t as broad:

    James Blackshaw (8 albums in 5 years, plus side projects and collabs)
    Six Organs of Admittance (12 aLbums in 11 years, plus many many other projects)
    Acid Mothers Temple… Uncountable! about 70 albums released in various guises over the last 13 years. Insane.

  14. I’m actually having an ongoing argument about Deerhunter with somebody at the moment. I’m not a fan even though by market research profiling standards I should probably love them more than life itself. Don’t know why. Just never clicked with me.

    Also, I wasn’t really going for prolific artists, more the opposite almost… perfectionism, or at least bands who are at a point in their career where they’re so on it that they don’t release anything bad for a period.

    I can see your claim with Deerhunter but with the other guys (barring James Blackshaw who I’ve never heard) I wouldn’t put them on the same rank for a three-album streak as some of the others people have mentioned – that’s subjective though, obviously.

  15. I just thought I should point out… Yellow House wasn’t their debut. Their first album is called Horn of Plenty and was released in 2004… Before Yellow House.

  16. Ah i see. Yeah what you’re looking for here is very subjective, it’ll differ entirely on a persons tastes – you could argue a genius streak for just about any band depending on personal preferences

    Grizzly Bear are a fantastic band who’ve exerted much influence over indie/folk in recent years (fleet foxes owe them a lot), though I don’t think I’d describe them as being geniuses; they craft beautiful songs in the tradition of the Beach Boys et al

  17. Donall I know Horn of Plenty is the debut… it’s just not as good. It’s alright like.

    I wonder if Grizzly Bear are Fleet Foxes fans?

    • Yep, Robin from FF has been quite vocal about his love of GB, and also of My Morning Jacket… and suprisingly the awesome Dungen

      I’d love to see them taking onboard some Dungenisms on album #2, it’d be insane!

      Around the time their debut album was coming out I remember reading Robin telling some rabid FF fans that GB > MMJ > FF. Pretty humble of the guy but I’d defo agree, ‘the griz’ are the cream of the crop.

  18. The Smiths?

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