Agitated Atmosphere: Animal City – See You in the Funny Pages

As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound from luminaries such as Animal City.

Animal City wastes no time, though the pop remembrances of “Waste No Time” almost made me kick the needle off the turntable. But the A.M. warp of “Learn to Survive” ensured See You in the Funny Pages stayed firmly spinning.

This is an album of rock flashbacks that strangely has little resemblance to the bygone era of overcrowded classic radio. It feels straight out of 1978, sometimes from 1992, but always 2013. It’s playful and experimental in how it re-frames the idea of radio-friendly rock. It makes no bones about putting catchy ahead of innovation–I’m reminded of what Dr. Dog could have been had the grind of the road not assuaged the band into the safety of classic riffs. Animal City pick up that fading torch and take it back into the stoned ages, unafraid of the fumes and bellbottoms.

Unsurprisingly, this comes from the hearts and minds of Sophomore Lounge, the little Louisville label that could. Animal City and Sophomore Lounge are a prime example of the Midwest music timbre: the terribleness of throwbacks but unabashed, unapologetic musicians infatuated with the songs of their youth (and their parent’s discarded youth) that are finishing the business that was interrupted by politicking and pop’s ugly siblings (bubblegum, disco, et. al.).

See You in the Funny Pages will be compared unfairly to its touchstones (Gary Wilson, Pavement, Jonathan Richman) but if not for the wholesale embracing of lunacy and irreverence, Animal City would be banal. Funny Pages is anything but, and though it has its share of stumbles, they are easily forgivable with every listen because of how genuine the band and the album ring.

Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist whose work can be viewed at his website. You can also find him on Twitter.

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