Caribou Times Two
When you spend the first 20 years of your life in Alaska, you notice when a synth-pop soloist comes around calling himself Caribou. But how does he stack up against the real thing?
Caribou is Ontario native Daniel Snaith, psychedelic dream-pop performer extraordinaire. Originally calling himself Manitoba (also very Canadian), Snaith was notoriously sued by DJ and Dictators frontman "Handsome Dick" Manitoba. He decided to rename himself Caribou while tripping on acid and being advised to do so by a bear.
Caribou is also a term for wild North American reindeer, Latin name Rangifer tarandus. There may be only one Snaith, but an estimated 2 million or so caribou wander the Arctic and subarctic wilderness in Alaska and Canada. There are a few large herds, such as the Leaf herd, which has about 628,000 caribou in its ranks.
Dubbed "folktronica," Caribou's music is reminiscent of Wire's softer side, Seefeel's lush synths, the lo-fi defiance of Ariel Pink and a more introspective Animal Collective, with vocals like Brian Wilson backed by the Byrds. There are a lot of quirky, psychedelic loops and melodic hooks with jangling guitar and recorder, violin and trippy percussion. Snaith's discography includes such masterpieces as If Assholes Could Fly This Place Would Be an Airport, Yeti and The Milk of Human Kindness. His newest release, Andorra (Merge), is full of sweet and woeful love songs.
The majestic caribou, on the other hand, are somewhat tight-lipped, but have been known to utter a deep grunt. Caribou's ankles click when they walk, which can sound like a herd of metronomes. These animals are most memorable for their fur-lined, bi-level racks that grow back every year. They are also migratory, traveling up to 3,000 miles annually.
Snaith doesn't have antlers, but he does wear glasses and has an adorably receding hairline. This Caribou also migrates — he's on tour about half the time, and by the end of his current tour with a four-piece band, he'll have played 500 shows. Not bad for a kid who stole his first sampler from his high school. It should be noted, though, that Snaith began playing the piano when he was five, and, incredibly, holds a PhD in mathematics from the Imperial College London. I'd like to see a caribou do that!
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.