Of Montreal – Lousy With Sylvianbriar

lousy-with-sylvianbriarRating: ★★★★½

I’ve been a fan of Of Montreal for quite some time, but I’ll admit that my fandom has been relegated to the bench as the group has indulged in a more electronically enhanced sound.  But, from the moment I put on Lousy with Sylvianbriar, I was transported back to the earlier days of the band, leaving me with one of the best pieces of music the band has released in some time.

“Fugitive Air” kicks off things on Lousy with Sylvianbriar, almost immediately setting a new tone.  There’s a meandering guitar line that holds onto elements of slide work, whilst Kevin Barnes erupts in a fashion that only he can.  Standing out to me, here, is the fact that the orchestration still includes those classical elements like tinkering piano and group harmonies.  Personally, I think a great touch is when the track opts to slow down around the 2:00 mark; it’s a nice change of pace. While the first piece offers an alternative-world interpretation of psych-pop, the smoothed out ballad of “Obsidian Currents” that follows makes the opening minutes quite remarkable. It all begins with Barnes taking the lead, crooning over a simple bass line and drum track. The song’s success, however, revolves around the evolution of the track, which builds up with a strummed acoustic piece that finishes with group harmonies.  This is the Of Montreal that I love so dearly.

Perhaps one of the best things about this album is that it combines Kevin’s inclination to change time signatures and tempos mid-track, which he’s done forever, but is much more pronounced on tracks like “Belle Glade Missionaries.” The group offers up a swinging bit of crafty pop, allowing listeners to bob their heads, albeit momentarily.  At 2:22, roughly, the track takes on this very light mood, with strings ornately dancing around Barnes, waiting for him to blast out with a quick vocal delivery; the pace of the movement is dizzying, but endearing nonetheless. These are the gifts that the band has always possessed, but I suppose I connect more when there’s actual instruments spinning me on my head.

I know that I’m supposed to love and adore “She Ain’t Speakin Now,” and I do, but it’s the tracks that lead up to it that really encouraged my affirmation of faith in Of Montreal.  That track’s chorus is just ridiculously delicious, and comes in as one of my favorite moments in music this year.  But, you should all go listen to “Colossus.”  The storytelling within this song illustrates precisely why Mr. Barnes has always been one of the most interesting lyricists.  I love the nakedness and solemnity of the tune.  And, to follow it up with the playful “Triumph of Disintegration” is a smart choice.  Using a shaker to accent the angular knifing of the guitar wins every time in my heart; is it a possible ode to Northern soul?

Honestly, I’ve had a hard time looking through this album for a track that I could discard, or even dismiss for the cynics purpose; it’s just not possible.  Using less of an electronic touch on Lousy with Sylvianbriar has allowed Barnes and company to create these great bits of pop music that just can’t be ignored. Sure, he includes snippets within snippets of songs, but they seem so much more meaningful with a full band backing things up during the recordings. I know there are a few of you out there looking for this sort of return to glory from Of Montreal, and this record’s just that. It’s a motherfucker; I mean that in the best way possible.


Exciting New Music from Of Montreal

ofmontrealOkay, so Of Montreal puts out tunes almost every year, so why is this so exciting? Well, for me, this single seems to exemplify the sound from the group that I first fell in love with when I jammed to Satanic Panic in the Attic; it’s not all bleeps and bloops, choosing to focus on more traditional guitar based melodies.  Still, it’s every bit a Kevin Barnes sound, which never ceases to impress me; I really like the vocal tone switch around the 2:15 minute mark.  The new record is titled lousy with sylvianbriar, and it’ll see a release from Polyvinyl Records on October 8th.  Hope it all sounds this great.

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Show Preview: Of Montreal @ the Mohawk (12.4)

Date Tuesday, December 4th
Location The Mohawk
Doors 6:30 PM
Tickets $18 from Mohawk

Whether you choose to be a fan of the constantly evolving band Of Montreal or not probably remains irrelevant at this point in the year.  Mohawk is winding down their outdoor show schedule for 2012, and this is pretty much a must attend show.  Kevin Barnes and company are always extremely entertaining, and you never know quite what you get when you see the group live.  Are there going to be elaborate costumes? Maybe. Will the tunes be enjoyable? Yes! You should just do yourself a favor and show up.  French Horn Rebellion will be opening the evening up, making this a great bill.  Oh, and Kevin Barnes will be DJing at a very hip after-party over at Red 7 following the show!


Download:Of Montreal – Coquet Coquette  [MP3]

Show Preview: Of Montreal @ The Mohawk

Date Tuesday, May 17th
Location Mohawk
Doors 630 pm
Tickets $22 from Transmission

While praise has been mixed with the last couple of Of Montreal releases, no one will ever argue that the band put on one of the most extravagant, not to mention creative, live shows.  Thus, this is where you should be on Tuesday night when the group rolls into the Mohawk.  I’m thinking that since the Mohawk has a small stage, you’ll get a little bit more of a musically focused production than some might expect, but I promise you, this is a good thing.  Opening up for the group is Painted Palms, and if that’s not enough you can stick around afterwards to catch one of our favorite local acts, One-Hundred Flowers, though we heard Kevin is DJing over at Elysium.  You’ll be happy either way.


Download: Of Montreal – Coquet Coquette [MP3]

FTC: David Bowie

bowieWhile perusing some of our old From the Closet features I realized that we have never given a shout out to David Bowie, until today!  So how does one choose from such a vast discography when dealing with one of the legends of rock?  Easy!  Easy you say?  Yes, easy!  Just stick with his best album and the best representation of the glam rock genre: Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars.  I wish I could drop the whole album on our site for those pitiful few who haven’t heard it, but that’s not allowed, so I’ll stick with title track “Ziggy Stardust”.  Can you even imagine what it would’ve been like to be around in the early 70s and see Bowie during the height of his Ziggy alter-ego?  Many have tried to imitate, many have carried on the torch, some have even mocked, but we’ll just never get another Bowie.  Never.  Be sure to pick this one up on vinyl so you can experience the true mind blowing power of putting this on the record player back in 1972.  Enjoy.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/09-Ziggy-Stardust.mp3]

7/1 – Nylon Summer Tour @ Antones

patrickwolf_04We were excited to be hitting up the Nylon Summer Tour at Antones, as the bill featured the likes of Jaguar LovePlasticines and Patrick Wolf. These are several bands we had been following for a long time, but had yet to get a chance to see on our home-turf.  Anxiously, we grabbed a few Lone Stars and awaited the evening with enthusiastic uncertainty. Follow the jump to read our take on the show.

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Albums Of The Year: 30-16

The year of 2008 is winding to a close, so it’s only appropriate that we wrap it up with our year-end albums list. We don’t expect many to necessarily agree with our list, but we worked really hard to make sure we had what we thought were the best thirty albums of the year. These are the records that spun over and over again in our heads and stereos, so this list is dedicated to their longevity in 2008.  We’ve conveniently broken it down into two segments, with albums 30-16 after the jump. Read more