2007-01-07

New of Montreal, plus a scoop

WARNING: GRANDIOSE STATEMENTS FOLLOW: I don't quite know what to say about Of Montreal, or their new album, "Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?". I am both in love and lust with them. They are important. They are beautiful. They are fun. I normally hate statements like the following even in February, much less first week of the year, but seriously: I really don't see another album coming along this year better than this one, it's going to be #1 (Last year was Hot Chip, listenable again and again, then Belle & Sebastian's best yet, then some alt- country niceness from Scattered Pages... there, that's overwith). I need to take it out of my ears. At times I think, "This could really be the best thing I've ever heard in my life." Of Montreal have gone from the quirky little band with the nutso-chord-change songs to full-fledged electronic synth-pop powerhouse, although still with the unusual hooks that only they can create. They've been together in various incarnations for ten years, this newest album being their eighth proper. Something happened to the band (well, Kevin Barnes - he's the songwriter/singer/guitarist) around the time of the "Aldhills Arboretum" album (2002), about halfway through their career. This was the first album I saw them tour for, and again it was a band's first UK show, again in a tiny club, simply amazing... British crowds for the most part don't move or dance a lot during songs, but by the "Death Dance" closer my wife and I (and others) were spinning each other and dancing like never before. Nothing before from them was nearly as danceable, and the progression just took off, incorporating more electronic touches yet even more soul to match. Their shows have become legendary, very often with wardrobe changes (he came out at the last Austin show in a wedding dress, announcing he would like to marry the city of Austin, and check out the Flickr pics of Barnes in nothing but about a two inch strip of jean shorts), high energy, and choice cover tunes... during this next tour they'll be whipping out their version of the Fiery Furnaces' "Tropical Iceland"(!!!), which is also appropriate because in this new fully-realized version of Barnes's baby (named after a failed trip to follow romance), the influences are strong and many and so good, from some Fiery Furnaces influence (2:47 of "Bunny" has to be a clear nod, and elsewhere), to Prince to Animal Collective to David Bowie and even Pink Floyd, and back to old Of Montreal, because again, they've never lost their voice in their incredible transformation. There is not a single other band today who could put all of the songs on "Hissing Fauna..." together. They were the first band my wife and I fell in love with simultaneously, and they've only gotten better since. There's been a couple of lineup changes, The Late BP Helium (Bryan Poole, Elf Power) brought his virtuostic guitar skills back to the band (just amazing live) after rejoining them for the Satanic Panic tour. Taking their new sound to epic pop-psychedelia heights, this newest should do nothing but bring them the kind of success they've had coming for so long. You've kind of always had to have an open ear and mind to appreciate Of Montreal, this is no different, but the payoff has just about never been this good...

Of Montreal "A Sentence Of Sorts In Kongsvinger"

This settles it. Kevin Barnes is one of the top songwriters thus far of the twenty-first century. If you don't like that song right there, I can't even ask you to listen to it again, because I don't think there's anything that I'm going to be able to do to help you. The joy and infectousness of this and others on the album have made me think that this is an album I will use to judge online media on (much like "Aldhills Arboretum", which is still fighting this album as my favorite, and the Joggers) . If they say anything bad about it, I will know, for once, truly and certainly, that they are full of shit...


A feeling starts when the background voices come in for the first chorus, at around 2:09, that I haven't felt in a while. The lyrics are so straitforward... an unabashed dismissal of phonyness and a plea for pure romanticism and "a lover with soul power." Seriously, I've lost it on this band. Realize it.



And since you're reading this blog now before it turns shit-hot, I'll let you in on a little scoop (of pudding) : Sometime during the next few weeks, I have received Of Montreal's permission to record a show strait off of the soundboard. And I hadn't heard of the opening band, but after sampling their mp3s and reading this, and this (related?), whooooah.... I'm going to try using a really wonderful (now vintage) top-of-the-line reel-to-reel recorder, but will have backup if that doesn't work. Anyways... mp3s are going to be decreasing slightly in the next few weeks, I'm going to clear some room in my server space. I won't go into details now, it'll have to be a rotating thing, but I'm going to make the entire show available as a LOSSLESS (non-mp3) download. Here, first, exclusively, probably within a month, hopefully less. You're invited. BYOWhatever. Until then,"Hissing Fauna..." is out this month on the 23rd. Optical Atlas also has info on the new Apples In Stereo, out Jan. 30 (along with some great rare music for old ads), which, when combined with Poole returning to Of Montreal and Olivia Tremor Control reforming, can hopefully shut up hipster wanna-bes who love shouting "Elephant 6 is dead"! (BTW: Since this blog didn't exist then, my site of SXSW 2006: standing next to Derek Almstead outside Urban Outfitters [packed, especially with rude, surly employees] watching Of Montreal play through the glass.) You can stream Of Montreal's "Hissing Fauna..." here from Polyvinyl, as well as preorder not only the new album there (bundled with a brand new EP only available from Polyvinyl or at Of Montreal shows) but a load of singles and stuff.


2 comments:

Sandra said...

HFAYTD is amazing, should be one of the best records of this year. Kevin is my hero for sure. I just want to witness one of their shows one day (that's if they ever tour Australia).

Will be looking forward to those recordings 'til then.

funeralpudding said...

It's quite amazing they've chosen to play my hometown, SA, which is almost always bypassed for Austin on indie tours. I joked to the band when aquiring permission to record that a tour starting in Memphis, then post-Katrina New Orleans, San Antonio, then Lubbock, TX could very well be called the Ass of America Tour.