MusicOctober 20, 2011 at 6:41 am

A Guide to Musical Collectives

Music Collective — a phrase used to describe a group of musicians in which membership is flexible and creative control is shared. From OFWGKTA’s Tyler, The Creator winning this year’s Best New Artist VMA to Arcade Fire’s much–talked–about 2010 Grammy for Album of the Year, collectives seem to be dominating music news. Clearly, collectives have been producing some of the most creative works due to their artistic contributions on an individual level and to their unique vision as a group. Read up and take a look at some of the most diverse and prominent collectives on the cutting edge of music today.

Arcade Fire
If you haven’t heard of this incredibly talented and seriously accomplished band by now, we’re not judging you, but go look them up (now). Formed in 2001 in Montreal, Arcade Fire boasts a lineup of eight members, including the husband–wife duo of frontman Win Butler and vocalist Regine Chassagne. Since their EP debut in ’01, they’ve put out three stellar albums — Funeral, Neon Bible and The Suburbs — with the latter winning a Grammy. There’s a lot to like about this band, but their democratic ethos as a group is pretty cool. Each member of the band contributes actively to songwriting and album–crafting — truly embodying the music collective spirit.
Key tracks: “Sprawl II” (Mountains Beyond Mountains), “We Used To Wait,” “Wake Up”
In the news: The band recently hosted a charity basketball tournament in Montreal, with a marquee matchup of avid baller Win versus the San Antonio Spurs’ Matt Bonner (apparently Win put up a good fight but lost).

Animal Collective
Animal Collective is an experimental psychedelic collective originally from Baltimore. With most of the members engaged in solo projects, the group is more a loose coalition of performers rather than a standard rock band. Each of the members assumes an alias under which they record: David Portner is Avey Tare, Noah Lennox is Panda Bear, Josh Dibb is Deacon and Brian Weitz calls himself Geologist. Merriweather Post Pavilion, the group’s eighth and most accessible record to date, was released in 2009. It reached the Top 20 in America and peaked at number 26 in the U.K., establishing the group’s strength as a commercial force.
Key tracks: “You Can Count On Me” (Panda Bear), “My Girls” (Animal Collective), “Oliver Twist” (Avey Tare)
In the news: Animal Collective curated an All Tomorrow’s Paris festival in Minehead, England this past summer, which featured them performing alongside Ariel Pink, Big Boi, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Atlas Sound, Gang Gang Dance and many more.

The rap collective Odd Future — short for Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All — has gained tremendous notoriety in the last year for members’ controversial lyrics and outrageous performance antics. Oh, yeah, and they’re all killer rappers, producing some of the scene’s most creative music today. Founded in Los Angeles by a group of high school skate punks, the collective consists of roughly 10 members — the most prominent being crooner Frank Ocean, rapper Hodgy Beats and the acknowledged ringleader, Tyler, The Creator. A few mixtapes have been put out under the Odd Future name (with various members contributing tracks); these days, members appear most on each other’s individual projects. With many more projects from the group slated to roll out soon, the near future is sure to be pretty damn odd.
Key tracks: “Yonkers” (Tyler, The Creator), “Rolling Papers” (Domo Genesis feat. Tyler, The Creator), “She” (Tyler, The Creator and Frank Ocean)
In the news: Odd Future will be performing at Philadelphia’s Union Transfer this Saturday, as part of their 2011 Golfwang Tour. If you manage to score tickets, wear protective gear. It’s going to get wild.
Elephant Six Collective
The Elephant Six recording company is a collective of american musicians who spawned many notable independent bands, including The Olivia Tremor Control, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Of Montreal. The collective was officially founded in Denver by childhood friends Robert Schneider, Bill Doss, Will Cullen Hart and Jeff Mangum. They started from home, trading music recorded on boomboxes and four–track cassette recorders. Eventually, these friendships gave way to the Elephant Six recording collaborations and bands we have come to know and love.
Key tracks: “Holland 1945″ (Neutral Milk Hotel), “Dream About The Future” (Apples In Stereo), “Jumping Fences” (The Olivia Tremor Control)
In the news: The Olivia Tremor Control recently embarked on a Fall Tour of the U.S. and Canada, marking the first live performances for the band since the handful of shows they played in 2005.

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