John Hancock's Antenna Death

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To close out the year, Crossfade is picking out its favorite albums by 305 artists. Read the full list of Miami's Best Albums of 2010 here.

John Hancock
Antenna Death (St. Ives/10K Islands)

The end of 2010 again belonged to Awesome New Republic. On the strength of its latest full-length, Stay Kids, the duo of Brian Robertson and Michael John Hancock took London by storm, playing packed live gigs, appearing on BBC radio, and getting their album featured at the legendary Rough Trade.

That was all well-deserved and long overdue. And while both ANR and commercial songwriting for Honor Roll Studios keeps them busy enough for most mortals, Hancock is a nearly compulsive songwriter. And so it was that some two years back, he began writing yet another new, distinct body of work. But as it took shape, it didn't fit into ANR's more dance-oriented framework. 

The songs kicked around the internet a bit, but didn't see the light of day until earlier this year, when M.J. released it as his second solo album, Antenna Death. (John Hancock is the name variation he uses for such efforts). 

Hancock's solo output is more stripped down and electronic than that of his band. In fact, Antenna Death often delving into the kind psychedelic tribalism that should appeal to fans of latter-day Animal Collective. The single "Not Scared At All" comes off as a gently rolling, far-away chant. And the accompanying video, which depicts Hancock wandering through a mangrove forest, seemed to perfectly capture its mood. Other tracks, like "The Deadly Arm," marry the low-end swing of Hancock's beloved P-Funk with new technology's icy veneer. 

For those familiar only with ANR's high-energy club sets, the record's decided aim at ear buds may be surprising. But the record serves as a balancing companion piece to ANR's output. After a dose of the band's often frenetic, uptempo, slick soul, Antenna Death provides a pleasantly mellow comedown.



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