Animal Feelings

by Rafter

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about

Growing up in San Diego you hear kids toss around the name Rafter Roberts with a hushed kind of reverence. Little later those same kids get older and when the dude comes up in conversation, he's just that--a dude, a bro, a likable, lovable, redheaded guy you'll find dancing at the Whistle Stop with his lovely lady or just walkin' around in the good clean morning sunlight, smiling and healthy and right with the world.

The reverence I felt as an impressionable San Diego kid was for the albums the man produced and engineered. Black Heart Procession, Tristeza, Rocket from the Crypt, all the big guns were there. Later, he helmed records for folks like the Shaky Hands, the Fiery Furnaces, and label-mates Castanets, Sufjan Stevens, and DM Stith. (His credits are far too lengthy to list here but, let it be said, the guy has worked his share of wonders.)

Now, because he's not the type of man to toss his merits in your face, it might take a while for an impressionable San Diego kid to learn that Rafter makes his own solo music. From my own experience it was years before I knew the guy's personal stuff (aside from the excellent art-punk-pop duo Bunky.) For the vets and first-timers, then, welcome Animal Feelings, Rafter's fourth LP for Asthmatic Kitty, and watch as it comes busting out of the gate like a dozen thundering palominos carved from gold, alabaster, and pure stoke.

Animal Feelings is a pop record and we can front how all we listen to is "nothing but, y'know, noise and improv stuff, man," but let's not delude ourselves here; good, respectable pop music is earthly magic. We can talk artsy and we can drop names but at the end of the night it's not Merzbow or La Monte Young we're shouting out into the darkness while we speed-peddle our bikes, leaning face-forward into the wind, smiling with our wine buzz. It's POP. Like a trusted friend, a good pop song will stick with you all your life.

Animal Feelings is 11 pieces of R&B/pop fantastic. The record begins with "No Fucking Around" and Rafter talk-boxing the title line of the song. Set to a grooving, silky, R&B stomp straight out of Rihanna or D'angelo, Rafter sings "For all of your boldness/for all your coldness/for all of the things that you triiiiied but never showed anyone." The chorus is, of course, the title, with regular-Rafter and talkbox-Rafter dueting over sweaty, arena-ready sex-beats. (And the title of the song is a maxim here; where previous Rafter releases trafficked in feedback and noise-informed experimentation, this one struts cleanly from one balls-out jam to the next, speakers blowing, bodies moving, club lights flashing.)

The second track is "A Frame," a big, hulking electro stomp with regular drummer Andy Robillard (Gogogo Airheart, Enon, Album Leaf) holding it down. "Timeless Form, Formless Time" is an ode to taking your best girl out on the dancefloor. Up next is the hand-clap beauty "Fruit," the album's first single. Says Rafter, who recently married his sweetheart, photographer Lizeth Santos, the song is about their courtship. "Fruit" is pop songwriting at its best; economical, free of clutter, and fortified with lyrics that say something real.

The title of the next song, "Feels Good," could be another maxim for Animal Feelings. The four minute track is a slow, sexy, near-falsetto jam anchored by a nice minimalist Jackson 5 bassline. "Animal Feelings," the romping, hard-charging title track is up next. If this song were an animal it would be a rhinoceros, focused, single-minded, and forward-moving. But the DNA would be skewed and dosed to reflect the swinging grace and joy of a tree full of happy, chittering, crap-throwing apes. As the song hits its breakdown, Rafter veers into Dan Deacon singalong territory, and it's a house-party right up to the end. (A party that is, forever, all-inclusive. Scene hero that he is, Rafter's one of the most non-elitist guys you'll ever meet.)

"Paper" is up next, another FM-ready pop gem playfully sabotaged by Rafter's foul mouth. "Never Gonna Die" is a clicky, tropical, rainbow-spectrum jam with some of Rafter's best lyrics on the record. It's a Clash-flavored pep talk and an acceptance of death, a celebration of the love you can find before the big black comes down and knocks over your sandcastle for good.

As Animal Feelings runs its course, the simple, mantric interlude "Only You" starts with a wash of subdued noise, echoing the sentiment of the opening track, before the rude, brash "Love Makes You Happy" growls into the forefront with Rafter delineating a list of heinous shit that might ruin your day if being in love didn't overshadow it all. As a lyrical statement, it's an umbrella in a downpour. But there are holes in the canopy. Small ones. (Rafter's too smart to deal in black and white truths; there are no definites on the path of the fateless.)

Animal Feelings ends with the buoyant, spirited, shaker-heavy "Beauty, Beauty" and its look at the various slings and arrows that keep us from finding solace and direction. Like the rest of the record, it's a dancefloor smasher full of questions--and that's what makes Animal Feelings so good. It's the juxtaposition of great sex and wild introspection, of worrying about your life but knowing that, beyond all else, what you must do is stop bitching, grab somebody pretty, and dance until you feel right again, until you find your place in the world (or at least accept the violence of it.) There are no hard answers here because there are no hard answers. Animal Feelings is about livin' it out and looking for love while your days move forward; because your days will move forward and they'll move forward fast. It's how you fill up the in-between time that counts.

credits

released 13 April 2010

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Track Name: No Fucking Around
for all of your boldness
for all your coldness
for all of the things that you tried but never showed anyone
never showed anyone
whoa

for all your mistakes
and all your pain
all of your sadness
and all of the broken pieces of your brain
that will never change
whoa

no fucking around

for all of your triumph
for all your successes
for all of the things that people look to you to do
that only you can do
i raise my glass to you
whoa

for your inner beauty
for your sensitivities
for all your gladness and the magic pieces of your brain
fortunately those things also will never change
whoa

so take it to the chorus
no fucking around
Track Name: A Frame
i'm doing counting but the numbers are against me
ran out of fingers, ran out of toes
i'm doing counting cause there's safety in numbers
HA!
safety in numbers, we'll see how that goes

a frame

erect an a frame in our human lives now
cause we both know that the triangle's the boss
erect an a frame with our hearts and minds now
heads lean together and arms held across

a frame

the world will try to knock us down
rub our faces in the ground
but we will hold eachother up
you'll see, you'll see
Track Name: Timeless Form, Formless Time
timeless form and formless time
fast forward and rewind
i've never heard this before
so get your ass out on the floor

i don't need anyone else in my arms but you, tonight
you're my girl, and i love my girl

mr vyas says it's all been done before
but i never be-seen this before
i've never heard this before (except for the part where i say)
get your ass out on the floor

i don't need anyone else in my arms but you, tonight
cause you're my girl, and i love my girl

i don't care for original thought
cause i like you, i love you a lot
i'm gonna sing about it now
yeah, i'm gonna sing about it now

cause it's a timeless for and formless time
fast forward and rewind
i know you've heard this before
but still, follow me to the floor

i don't need anyone else in my arms but you, tonight
you're my girl, and i love my girl
that girl's my girl, and i love my girl
Track Name: Fruit
i'm looking thru broken windows
i'm poking fingers thru the cracks in the walls
yer on the inside shovelling madly
filling in gaps and avoiding calls
but i know that you'd love me
if you would share your fruit w/me

will you share your fruit w/me?
baby share your fruit w/me!
will you share your fruit w/me?
baby share your fruit w/me!

ripe strawberry fell out thru the window
watermelons are rolling thru the halls
you're on the inside trying to hide it
you can't hide it
but i know that you'd love me
if you would share your fruit w/me

will you share your fruit w/me?
baby share your fruit w/me!
will you share your fruit w/me?
baby share your fruit w/me!
Track Name: Feels Good
yr almost blind but you're lookin good
scared your plastic but you're really wood
and you're in tune with nature cause you're made from a natural thing

id fall apart but i think i'm strong
come and visit but the drive is long
and it's in my nature to say that its a natural thing

feels good

i can't lie it's a physical thing
the way you love me makes my senses sing
you're up in my nature and that's why i wear a ring

you own the space next to me at night
and in the morning with the natural light
of the sun coming round to give us another one

feels good
Track Name: Animal Feelings
got animal feelings and animal thoughts
always keep it going on the right, right
got animal feelings and animal thoughts
always keep it going on the right, right

in a strange city on the other side of the world, side of the world
i feel awake i feel alive but i'm just thinkin' bout my girl, thinkin bout my girl
animal, animal
animal, animal

got animal feelings and animal thoughts
always keep it going on the right, right
got animal feelings and animal thoughts
always keep it going on the right, right

Since early years
We try & try
To push it down
Disrupt, deny
The toothy grin
The flushing skin
The animals that are living in
Our hearts and minds
Fronts and behinds
Top to bottom we rewind
To earlier days of blood and sex
Before we were conflicted wrecks

animal, animal
animal, animal

got animal feelings and animal thoughts
always keep it going on the right, right
got animal feelings and animal thoughts
always keep it going on the right, right
Track Name: Paper
Paper

and when you think
you think some thoughts
think some thoughts
and then you let them go

float away in the stream
they take their leave
so fast to leave
they were here but now they're gone

you motherfuckers
you motherfuckers where did you go
you mother fuckers
you mother fuckers where did you go?

i need some paper

there's a man by the lake, he spends his days
in shifty ways, catching rays
(suspicious)

of course it's the lake that's filled by the stream
that carried your thoughts away
(malicious)

you motherfuckers
you motherfuckers where did you go
you mother fuckers
you mother fuckers where did you go?

i need some paper

i need paper
i need paper
i need paper
yes i do
to keep my thoughts from going away
to keep my thoughts from blowing away
Track Name: Never Gonna Die
i been feeling lately
like everyone is crazy
blind eyes staring at the sun and blinking lazy
i've been feeling lately like everyone is crazy except for you and me
the world's acting hungry
gonna eat everyone
insatiability
black teeth black tongue
except for you and me

whoa, we're never gonna die

not that i mean to say that you and i will live forever
contrarily i think we're dying fast, more dead than ever
not that i mean to say that you and i will live forever
but we'll never die
we're getting lumps on lumps
bam ba bam makes ow ow
age takes our mistakes and fixes them in flesh now
inscrutability
implausibility
it's only you and i

whoa, we're never gonna die

flashlight, flashlight
turn on the light, turn on the light
make it dark, go to bed
rest your cluttered head
things are swirling
and colliding
nothing ever felt so depressing and inspiring

whoa, we're never gonna die
Track Name: Only You
for all your successes
for all the things you do that only you can do
only you
only you
only you
Track Name: Love Makes You Happy
your umbrella was broken by the rain
you feel happy but you can't explain
no'one asks but you say it anyway
i'm having a gorgeous day

cause love makes you happy when it's not making you sad

the neighborhood kids set your car on fire
so you ride your bike but you puncture your tire
none of this can get you down
cause you turned your frown upside down

cause love makes you happy when it's not making you sad

sometimes love makes you happy
but other times it feels terrible, just terrible
sometimes you wish you could just rip your heart out of your chest
throw it on the ground and stomp on it till it stops beating and you never feel anything in it again
but other times it feels AMAZING!
like right now. right now.

your umbrella was broken by the rain
you feel happy but you can't explain
no'one asks but you say it anyway
i'm having a gorgeous day

cause love makes you happy when it's not making you sad

you know what? i love you!
you know i love you and it makes me happy!

cause love makes you happy when it's not making you sad
Track Name: Beauty, Beauty
incalculable sadness
incalculable sadness
incalculable sadness and awareness of death
what am i s'posed to do next?

incalculable love
incalculable love
incalculable love
incalculable happiness and familial love
but what am i supposed to do next?

live in the moment
live in the now
i broke my head against the now now now
and the moment
and the moment
it's here and then it's gone
it's here and then it's gone
and back again back again
the moment is permanent

beauty beauty
it's hard to get the things that you love