Fun New Tune from Of Montreal

ofmontrealI’m really digging the broader band approach from Of Montreal, in comparison to some of the electronically driven stuff I feel like Kevin Barnes was working on in his own bedroom.  This brand new track will come on a 7″ that arrives with the remastered Satanic Panic in the Attic LP, which hits on Record Store Day.  And just in case you forgot, that’s my favorite OM record, so it only seems fitting that they offer up this track.  If this song is any indicator, it’s clear that the band is back on the up and up, perhaps bringing them back into the realm of my favorite bands.

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Top 50 Albums of 2013

albums banner 2013 procMaking our year-end list of Top Albums is never something we take lightly.  We realize that it’s rather arbitrary in the grand scheme of things, but we realize that our role is to at least toss out our opinion, however meaningless it may be. In the long run, we had to take the tastes of several people, and whittle it into a list of 50 great albums that we think are vital to your listening experience.  We know it’s a matter of personal tastes, but the records below are reflective of our tastes and our site, so don’t get mad, they’re just opinions. But, feel free to tell us where we went wrong, or what we might have missed.  If you click on the album titles, you can also read our full reviews of each album, save the ones that we didn’t get to in time. Sorry we don’t like Kanye.

50 – WampireCuriosity
49 – Dot DashHalf Remembered Dream
48 – Mantles  – Long Enough to Leave
47 – The Appleseed CastIllumination Ritual
46 – Bad SportsBras
45 – Part TimePDA
44 – Dick DiverCalendar Days
43 – Math and Physics ClubOur Hearts Beat Loud
42 – Veronica FallsWaiting for Something to Happen
41 – Eat Skull – III
40 – The Lonely WildThe Sun as It Comes
39 – The Love LanguageRuby Red
38 – Gun OutfitHard Coming Down
37 – Cate Le BonMug Museum
36 – Daughn GibsonMe Moan
35 – Andre ObinThe Arsonist
34 – ArpMore
33 – Gap DreamShine Your Light
32 – The Black WatchThe End of When
31 – Ty SegallSleeper
30 – The StevensA History of Hygeine
29 – Of MontrealLousy with Sylvianbriar
28 – Mirror TravelMexico
27 – Local NativesHummingbird
26 – Girls NamesThe New Life
25 – GRMLNEmpire
24 – Small BlackLimits of Desire
23 – AudacityButter Knife
22 – Mikal CroninMCII
21 – Chelsea WolfePain is Beauty
20 – FoalsHoly Fire
19 – Radical FaceFamily Tree: The Branches
18 – Youth LagoonWondrous Bughouse
17 – Terry MaltsNobody Realizes This is Nowhere
16 – Shout Out LoudsOptica
15 – Kurt VileWaking on a Pretty Daze
14 –  BraidsFlourish//Perish
13 – Crystal AntlersNothing is Real
12 – TyphoonWhite Lighter
11 – Ski LodgeBig Heart

10 – GamblesTrust

Admittedly, this album makes nods to folk troubadours of Christmas’ past, but what grabbed me from the moment I heard this record was the sincerity in what’s being created.  In leaving us with a stripped down listen of folk tunes and incredible poetry, we’re asked to look into the history of American songwriting tradition; it’s been awhile since it was executed so well.

9 – The GrowlersHung at Heart

I’d put this album on any list for one song alone, “Someday.”  But, it just so happens that the rest of the album maintains the sensation that’s established on the opening track.  I’ve heard it referenced as a surf-psych opus, but what’s been assured in my mine is what an incredible listen we’re all be treating to when we put Hung at Heart on our record players.

8 – Wax IdolsDiscipline & Desire

Hether Fortune seems to scare people.  Her work is in your face, never making an excuse for who she is or what she believes.  That attitude carries on into her music, allowing listeners to experience a musical world void of any pretense.  The songs on this album are angular, dark and abrasive; the vocals have Hether dominating the scene of modern lady rock warriors.  If you don’t dig it, she doesn’t care, but I do because this record rules.

7 – Parenthetical GirlsPrivilege

While many of the songs on this effort leaked out before under various EPs, the whole masterpiece exists in the way it was tied together as a complete work.  It’s operatic and grand at every corner, but it’s also undeniably a pop record.  The emphasis might revolve around the more artful spectrum of pop music, but this is an album you can play for everyone in your family, and they’ll all find themselves swept up in the wonderment of Privilege.

6 – The NationalTrouble Will Find Me

What else really needs to be said about The National.  They consistently make great albums that are lauded then often overlooked, but we didn’t want to do that to one of our favorite acts.  I mean, if they played 8 shows in 8 days, we’d be at every one, and the DJ set after party.  Their accolades and recognition are warranted, and it’s especially clear on this, their latest release.

5 – LegsPass the Ringo

When listening to Pass the Ringo, I thought of one thing: this is the sort of record that makes a small label, like Loglady Records, a household name. It’s spun around garage rock and psych rock structures, whilst still maintaining an accessibility that few people working in that genre achieve.  Some albums can play in the background of your house, and might be happy to do so, but Legs created something that made me stop and listen at every turn; I’m thankful for that.

4 – Warm SodaSomeone for You

Someone For You came our way in January.  On my record player, it hasn’t left since.  This is one of the most rewarding power-pop records I’ve gotten my hands on, and trust me, I’ve gotten my hands on a lot of great records. Each song is filled with innate hooks and garage rock grit, encouraging you to tap your toes for the entirety of the record.  You’d think after a full year our interest would have waned, but with time we’ve only grown to appreciate the record even more.

3 – Coma CinemaPosthumous Release

At the moment, there’s not too many people releasing music that’s the quality of Mathew Cothran and Coma Cinema. There are elements of the bizarre, similar to the work of early Elf Power, yet there’s this intimacy that artists like Eliott Smith were able to create with their listeners.  You wrap that up and put it in a package of pop sensibility, and you have an album that can’t be ignored.

2 – Bubblegum LemonadeSome Like it Pop

In today’s musical climate, we buy into the fact that artists have to be doing something strange, or something that’s vastly different from their peers.  But, in the grand scheme of things, we often forget what it’s like to take enjoyment out of the music.  This album was one of the many reminders that music, when it’s good, can be quite special.  Every song here is a single, and worth your time; it’s the best thing Laz has done, and I feel like he’s just really getting started.

1 – Magical CloudzImpersonator

This album is about Devon Welsh.  From the first instant I heard his voice, it took hold of me. Throughout the year, Impersonator, consistently played on my radio. His voice was mesmerizing, captivating audiences on several occasions in Austin, convincing us to be as quiet as a mouse, so as to hear every note.  The unique quality of the album will reward listeners for years to follow.  It made us believe in great music again.


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.


More New Tunes from Of Montreal

ofmontrealI’ve been a bit reluctant to really jump back on board with Of Montreal, though I never truly stepped off the train.  In a sense, they’ve taken some creative moves that I’ve not always been on bored with, that is until their last two singles.  The latest seems to have completely stripped all the electronic elements out of the group’s sound, leaving us with Kevin Barnes’ penchant for traditional hooks. It might not be a return to form, if there ever really was one, but it’s definitely got me more excited than I’ve been to hear the full LP.  It’s titled LOUSY WITH SYLVIANBRIAR, and it’ll be released by Polyvinyl on October 8th. Pretty stoked!

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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 Pics: Of Montreal @ The Mohawk (12/4)

Of Montreal is notorious for putting on lovely and bizarre shows. Mixing theatrical shenanigans, hippy jam band lighting, punk show crowd energy and props to keep you invested, there is rarely a dull moment as props, projectors and extras fill your eyes as the band puts forth another solid sounding set. French Horn Rebellion had opening duties.

It was one of the last outside shows at The Mohawk and the weather was freaking perfect. I had to go. FEATHER CANNONS!!!1!11shift+one

Couple more thoughts and plenty of pics after the break.

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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]

New Blissful Pop from The Color Bars

When you get a press release that mentions Belle and Sebastian, The Flaming Lips and Pavement all at once, you’ve either got to be excited or scared.  After listening to this single from The Color Bars, I will definitely say I’m leaning towards excitement, and clamoring to get my hands on their recently released record, Prosopopoeia.  Really, it’s just great pop music, and with the electronic influence on this track, I’m getting more of an Of Montreal feeling here, giving a bit of classic quirkiness, though it’s a bit more in the nerdy vein as opposed to Kevin Barnes hyper sexuality.  Just let the hooks sweep you through the day.


Download: The Color Bars – Structupoppie Rally [MP3]

Show Preview: Olivia Tremor Control @ the Mohawk (8/31)

Date Wednesday, August 31st
Location Mohawk
Doors 630PM
Tickets $10 from Frontgate

If you’ve been listening to indie rock for the last two decades or so, you’ve probably heard of Olivia Tremor Control.  They’re part of the Elephant 6, the collective that spawned Neutral Milk Hotel and Of Montreal.  They’ll even have Music Tapes opening the show, another band associated with NMH.  Now, Jeff Mangum probably won’t be there, but you’ll still get to see a bit of history, not to mention some great music.

If you’re not into the band’s sound, you can also catch local acts such as Grape St. or Leatherbag rocking across town as well.


Download: Oliva Tremor Control – Holiday Surprise 1 [MP3]

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