michael gallucci

Posts Tagged ‘of montreal’

ALBUM REVIEW — OF MONTREAL

In album review on 01/19/2012 at 11:17 am

Of Montreal

Paralytic Stalks

(Polyvinyl)

Kevin Barnes is one freaky dude. After a dozen years and almost as many albums, he led his carnivalesque indie-pop group deep into funky R&B territory on 2010’s False Priest, even enlisting Janelle Monáe and Beyoncé‘s little sister for help. On their 11th album, Paralytic Stalks, Of Montreal slip and slide in a number of directions until they crash somewhere in the middle of progville. The last four songs all clock in at more than seven minutes, with the closing “Authentic Pyrrhic Remission” hitting the 13-minute mark. From the start, Paralytic Stalks is building to this moment (the sonic freakout that launches opener “Gelid Ascent” is a tip-off of things to come). By the time the lyrically relentless Barnes leads his crew through the orchestral sound collage of “Wintered Debts,” you’re ready for any trip his spaced-out mind fancies.

Advertisements

FEATURE/INTERVIEW — OF MONTREAL

In feature/interview on 05/04/2011 at 8:30 am

If you wanted to get all psychoanalytical about it, you could say Kevin Barnes’ soaring falsetto is a mere manifestation of his restlessness. And all those words he crams into Of Montreal’s songs? Same thing. The dude feels he has so much to say and so little time to say it in that he spits them out a mile a minute as his voice reaches Dirty Mind-era-Prince heights.

Check out this line from “Our Riotous Defects,” one of the best songs from last year’s False Priest: “My God, I should’ve realized on our second date when you dragged me into the bathroom at Tameka’s house and screamed at me for like 20 minutes because I had contradicted you in front of your friends/I was like, Oh/And then later that night at my apartment, as punishment, you killed my betta fish/You just threw it out the window.”

Whew.

At times, Barnes is a marvel to behold. Other times he verges on annoying. Either way, no band has made a transformation quite like Of Montreal over the past 14 years.

On their 1997 debut, theAthens,Georgia, group distilled many of the same influences as other bands in their Elephant 6 collective, making a sort of artsier version of Beatlesque indie pop. But they’ve evolved – sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly – over the years, until they ended up what they are now: a theater-like troupe of funky performance artists made up of more than a dozen members. “I view it as a life form that has its own trajectory,” says Barnes. “I think back to [those first albums] and I don’t really identify with them, like a completely different person made them. It’s like a typical human evolution: The early albums are very sweet and naïve but they evolved into something more mature and sexual.”

The evolution began in earnest with Of Montreal’s ninth album, 2008’s Skeletal Lamping. That’s when Barnes (who plays most of the music on the band’s records himself) let his R&B-singing, cross-dressing alter ego Georgie Fruit take over for an entire album. False Priest is a bigger and tighter version of its spazzy predecessor, using live instruments instead of synths, and singers Janelle Monae and Solange Knowles (Beyoncé’s sister), who add sweetness to the sometimes sour mix.

“I wanted to make something that was more accessible and immediate,” says Barnes. “I have a tendency to put too many ideas into my records. Any song can go in so many directions, and there’s that tendency to just take it there.”

Just as Of Montreal’s music has gotten more ambitious, straying outside its comfort zone, same goes for the feather-boa-wearing man behind it. False Priest is the first album Barnes recorded outside of hisAthens studio (it was made inLos Angeles) and the first time he’s worked with a producer.

Jon Brion (who’s helped shape albums by Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann, and Kanye West) arranges sounds that Barnes just kinda threw out there before. The post-disco beats running through songs like “I Feel Ya’ Strutter” and “Our Riotous Defects” lead to messy, glorious trips. “There are so many different ways to listen to music,” says Barnes. “There’s so much going on in Stevie Wonder’s records. When you dissect them in your head, you hear all these things going on. That’s the great thing about music. It can be very complex but also very sneaky.”

Barnes’ continuous restlessness yielded thecontrollersphere EP last month. He calls it a folk record, but that genre tag is debatable, since the  highlight — a sprawling and amp-shredding five-minute workout called “Black Lion Massacre” – is the noisiest thing Of Montreal have ever recorded. “I’m never really satisfied with the things I do,” says Barnes. “I never feel like I’ve accomplished anything, so I’m always looking for the next thing.”

Thecontrollersphere isn’t baroque pop or funk machine or anything else, really, found in the group’s bag of sounds (even though most of the songs are False Priest leftovers). It’s Of Montreal between stages, once again, and is likely a sign of things to come. “It’s a bridge,” says Barnes. “It’s noisier and more cacophonous, which is where I’m heading. But it’s hard to say where you are in a moment. I really don’t know where I’m at right now.”

ALBUM REVIEW — OF MONTREAL

In Uncategorized on 08/25/2010 at 11:41 am

OF MONTREAL

False Priest

(Polyvinyl)

Kevin Barnes is one fucked-up dude. Before his transformation into a prancing, shrieking indie-rock queen, he led Of Montreal for more than a decade as a baroque-pop ensemble (they were part of the Elephant 6 collective that gave us the Apples in Stereo and Neutral Milk Hotel). On their tenth album, Barnes expands everything: the band, the sound, the hooks. False Priest is basically a bigger, tighter version of 2008’s spazzy Skeletal Lamping. Producer Jon Brion corrals sounds that Barnes just kinda threw out there before, and guest singers Janelle Monae and Solange Knowles (Beyoncé’s sister) add some sugar to Barnes’ bitter bites. But at the center of it all is Barnes, wrapping his falsetto around many, many words (there’s a dozen of them coming at you at a time in “I Feel Ya’ Strutter” and “Our Riotous Defects”) and post-disco beats. It’s often a messy trip, but a glorious one all the same.