They did not, however, edit themselves out and you can occasionally hear the band's comments akin to "One more time!" and some of the more distinctive audience reactions in the background when the band really gets going, and these sounds remind listeners that this is a live album.
The first track, which per the liner notes combines the traditional tune "Sheepskin & Beeswax" with an original creation, starts out frankly sounding like any other high-energy contra dance band...and then when it switches to the second tune (written by band member Andrew Marcus), it kind of explodes into high energy distortion-pedaled accordion and a fiery fiddle with a kickin' drum solo thrown in for good measure.
The next track, which combines Tchaikovsky's theme from Swan Lake and Edvard Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King," is part of where Giant Robot gets its reputation for having a really varied repertoire. It underscores that alternative contra is not just about pulling from one genre of music -- or even exclusively about pulling from things more modern than the folk Tradition usually encompasses: it can pull from many other genres. What is really interesting about this is that it is handled with aplomb to be deftly made into a set of contra tunes, with the look and feel of contra even as dancers and listeners pick up on the tune from another context entirely.
"Other Andrew's Favorite" very heavily features the trombones and the guitar and achieves a sound that is rather uniquely Giant Robot.
The "Frank's Reel/Firework" track highlights the neat and unexpected quality of GRD's combinations; the former is a spirited lively tune that doesn't seem to share much with a cover of Katy Perry's "Firework," until you listen to the pattern of the backing chords in the climb of the latter song. This seemingly subtle link works to blend the songs into a very fun mash-up. The album then changes gears; "Fly Around" highlights that Giant Robot Dance is not just a gimmick band, and that they have chops on traditional tunes as well.
I am particularly fond of the final track for its variety, between Andrew Marcus's composition "Meridian Hill," U2's "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" with the melody carried on the trombone and the guitar, and Elton John's "Circle of Life," all tied together with the keyboard in a really neat way to finish off the album with a bang...and perhaps a cycle back to the first track for another listen-through.
Spontaneous Animation is available both as a CD and a digital download from CD Baby. More information about the band can be found on Giant Robot Dance's web site at www.giantrobotdance.com.
Update, 8/23/2012, 11:46 P.M.: I heard from Andrew Marcus and he pointed out that the tune they had called "Other Andrew's Favorite" on their first album was not, in fact, the same piece called "Other Andrew's Favorite" on this album. Mea culpa. That sentence has been edited; the rest remains as originally posted. -REH