The ever-evolving art-rock band Animal Collective kicked off the New Year with plans for a brief mid-January tour of Europe and the U.S. With those initial stateside dates now underway, the group has confirmed extended European and North American treks for spring.

The new itinerary picks up with a 22-city European jaunt that runs from March 4 at Rockefeller Music Hall in Oslo, Norway, and ends March 28 at Stiff Kitten in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The avant-garde group will take some time off before beginning a 24-date run across North America, slated to begin May 11 at 9:30 Club in Washington, DC, and wrap June 10 at Club Firestone in Orlando, FL.

Highlights include a May 14 at the new House of Blues venue in Boston, MA, a May 29 session at The Wiltern in Los Angeles, CA, and a June 5 gig at Stubb’s Bar-B-Q in Austin, TX. Three shows in Canada are booked, as well: May 15 at Metropolis in Montreal, QC; May 16 at Sound Academy in Toronto, ON; and May 24 at Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, BC.

Animal Collective is supporting the group’s eighth studio album, “Merriweather Post Pavilion,” which was officially released on CD today (January 20). A follow-up to 2007’s critically acclaimed album “Strawberry Jam,” the record will spend its first week of release at the No. 38 position of Billboard‘s Top Independent Albums chart.

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The record’s title comes from the concert venue of the same name, which is located in Symphony Woods in Columbia, MD. Merriweather Post Pavilion was designed by architect Frank Gehry and opened in 1967. The outdoor space impacted Animal Collective’s members and has influenced the type of music they endeavor to make.

“We used to go to shows there while growing up and have fond memories of times spent on the lawn,” the Baltimore-based band explained in a note accompanying the LP version of the album. “For most of the time we’ve been playing together, both in Animal Collective and the years before, we’ve tried to make music that would be deserving of an amazing outdoor listening experience. As both a name and a place, Merriweather Post Pavilion represents this for us.”

Animal Collective is comprised of musicians Panda Bear (Noah Lennox), Avey Tare (David Portner), Geologist (Brian Weitz) and Deakin (Josh Dibb), though albums released under the Collective name can feature contributions from any or all of the members. Since the release of “Strawberry Jam” and the subsequent tour, Deakin has been on hiatus from the group and is not expected to participate in the 2009 trek.

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Animal Collective itinerary:
(Dates are subject to change.)

March 4 Oslo, NOR Rockefeller Music Hall
March 5 Lund, SWE Mejeriet
March 6 Copenhagen, DEN Amager Bio
March 8 Cologne, GER Gloria
March 9 Heidelberg, GER Karlstorbahnhof
March 10 Fribourg, SWI Fri-Son
March 11 Lucerne, SWI Konzerthaus Schuur
March 12 Florence, ITA Viper
March 13 Rome, ITA Teatro Studio
March 14 Milan, ITA Rolling Stone
March 16 Strasbourg, FRA La Laiterie
March 17 Amsterdam, NET Paradiso
March 18 Brussels, BEL Ancienne Belgique
March 19 Lille, FRA Aeronef
March 20 Nantes, FRA Olympic
March 22 Bristol, ENG Trinity Centre
March 23 Nottingham, ENG Rescue Rooms
March 24 London, ENG The Forum
March 25 Leeds, ENG Woodhouse Club
March 26 Liverpool, ENG Static
March 27 Dublin, IRE Tripod
March 28 Belfast, NIR Stiff Kitten
May 11 Washington, DC 9:30 Club
May 12 Philadelphia, PA Electric Factory
May 13 New York, NY Terminal 5
May 14 Boston, MA House Of Blues
May 15 Montreal, QC Metropolis
May 16 Toronto, ON Sound Academy
May 18 Royal Oak, MI Royal Oak Music Theatre
May 19 Milwaukee, WI Turner Hall Ballroom
May 20 Minneapolis, MN First Avenue
May 24 Vancouver, BC Commodore Ballroom
May 25 Portland, OR Roseland Theater
May 26 Oakland, CA Fox Theater
May 27 Big Sur, CA Henry Miller Library
May 29 Los Angeles, CA The Wiltern
May 30 Las Vegas, NV House Of Blues
May 31 Tucson, AZ Rialto Theatre
June 1 Albuquerque, NM Sunshine Theatre
June 2 Boulder, CO Boulder Theater
June 4 Dallas, TX House Of Blues
June 5 Austin, TX Stubb’s Bar-B-Q
June 6 Oxford, MS The Library
June 8 St. Petersburg, FL The State Theatre
June 9 Ft. Lauderdale, FL Culture Room
June 10 Orlando, FL Club Firestone

Last Updated on January 21, 2009