Archive for February, 2017

of Montreal

Rune Husk

Polyvinyl Records, 2017of-montreal-rune-husk-cover

Review by Kent Manthie

Kevin Barnes and company, hard at work as per custom, has just put out something new since they’re most recent output, Innocence Reaches last year. The new product’s an EP, entitled Rune Husk, a four-song sampler of what’s happening with of Montreal, pride of Athens, GA.

Rune Husk is a bit more subdued than is expected from an of Montreal disc, but, the songwriting, as usual, has the same charming, urbane wit fans of the band have come to expect. Think of it as a mellower, mature smattering of psych-pop with a dreamy, orange swirl gyrating around the middle.

The album begins with the low-key “Internecine Larks”, which will pull you in out of curiosity. “Stag to the Table” kicks it up a notch and for the second half of the EP, “Widowsucking” suddenly harkens back to the reason you like these guys in the first place. Definitely the highlight of Rune Husk, “Widowsucking” has a delectable taste you can’t get enough of.

Another thing about Rune Husk is the placement of the guitar licks in a bigger, more accentuated place. It fits in nicely with the rest of the musical electronica that envelops much of their music. Along with the same creative, sharp lyrical wit Kevin’s honed over the years; his skills haven’t yet begun to wane; the genius of it all fits so well with the underlying music; music that compels you to bob your head back and forth or tap your feet to the pulsating, disco-pop groove and it’s in “Widowsucking” that the music reverts back to a more sublime, surreal, psychedelic-club-power-pop, with clever lyrics and music, wedded together in a blissful union. The EP’s closer, “Island Life” is a great follow-up, yet it manages to unify the softer “Internecine Larks” with of Montreal’s signature sound quite gracefully.

I’m hoping to be back reviewing a new, full length of Montreal disc in the near future. What will be next? That’s always an interesting thing to think of, when mulling over the state of typical nauseating corporate pop slop so ubiquitous these days. But thank goodness for the whole indie network of small labels, DIY-ers and those who spurn the rheumy caterwauling one can’t get away from on the radio. Without outlets such as Polyvinyl, Jade Tree or Castle Face Music, to name just a few, it would be a lot harder to get in touch with the cream of the crop. Popular opinion be damned! –KM.

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Hello Everybody!!!                                                                  learylead091815

C’est moi. I’m back!  Sorry, all you great people who read Independent Review and an extra special sorry to those bands whose new albums I’ve been putting off reviewing for much of the last month.

I figured, now that I’m back; tanned, tested and rested, so to speak, I’d better write a little something to possibly puzzled new indie music fans to let you all know that the craziness, the chaos, et cetera, et cetera, now passed, is going to allow me to get back to a better, quicker reviewing system.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           something to help you ‘tune out’

Just to make a note of it: 2016 was a horrible year.  It started off with so many beloved musicians, singers and even an actor or two dying left and right.  For the first couple months of 2016, there seemed to be about three deaths of people whose names many of us would recognize, some more than others, possibly, but I was surprised with the high volume and rapidity with which these people died; all within a month or two of each other. Then, the year ended on a really big downer:  Somehow, that “brash asshole”, the walking, rambling “human” joke actually won the election.  Of course, Russia had a hand in helping trump getting “elected”, the extent of it all is something that isn’t so obvious, but the new admin. is already spreading word around about possibly considering lifting the sanctions put in place on Russia for their interference and military taking (back) of the Crimea and nasty things in other parts of Ukraine.  The evidence of Russia’s involvement include a few things here:  the (undisputed, at least by US admin.) hackings, the disruption and interfering with Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, something which makes the whole “Watergate” scandal, from the early 1970s pale by comparison (for those who may be too young to know what “Watergate” means, well, in 1972, an election year for Nixon, the White House “plumbers” unit, put together by such brains as Haldeman, Ehrlichman and John Mitchell, broke into the Democratic Party HQ which was in the Watergate office complex (it’s a hotel today, I’m not sure if it had hotel accomodations back in the day)).   The break-in at the Watergate was a plot related to the upcoming ’72 elections, even though it obviously didn’t work out the way Nixon wanted it to (he still beat George McGovern quite handily).

Anyway, with things the way they are, contemporaneously, I’d give anything to have a Richard Nixon as president over shithead!

Dark times ahead, dark times indeed.  One way to help combat the ugly situation we, as Americans have allowed ourselves to be put in  – someone out there voted for this bag of dogshit!  Most live in states that would’ve had soldiers dressed in gray uniforms during the civil war, 152+ years ago – southerners.  In fact, only 27% of Americans actually voted for the bag of shit with the awful orange wig, far from a majority and definitely not any kind of “mandate” from the “people” – anyway, one way to ameliorate this mess is to GET ORGANIZED and VOTE, dammit, VOTE!  Sure, the Democratic party may not be the panacea that’s going to make everything rosy and perfect, but it’s going to go a long way in keeping the reactionaries in the GOP-controlled congress from being nothing more than a rubber stamp for trump, essentially, going along with every hare-brained scheme he comes up with.  The Democrats have to take back the senate.  Taking back the house would be great, but harder.  As for the senate, all it would take is a shift of just a few seats, e.g., get rid of, say, three or four Republicans and replace them with Democrats or Independents who would caucus with Democrats, thereby giving them the majority again.  Too bad that isn’t so right now; if it were, Jeff Sessions, that asshole from Alabama, would not have been confirmed as Attorney General and neither would Mr. Puzder, the current head of Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr., as labor secretary (ed: since I originally wrote this, Puzder took himself out of the running for running the Labor Dept.; a wise choice).  Then, you have the extremely unlikable little troll from Georgia:  congressman Tom Price, this shameless, demon, straight out of Deliverance territory(!) named to head the dept. of Health and Human Services.  He is the absolute worst possible candidate to head HHS.

I do concede, however, that OK, the Democrats didn’t have the best possible candidate in Hillary.  Sure, she’s well-known, popular and so on, but because assholes like Trey Gowdy, a former prosecutor from the worst state in the union:  South Carolina (don’t get me started!) who headed a subcommittee to “investigate” (I use that term loosely) Hillary and her use of a private email account when she was Secretary of State in Obama’s first term, instead of the email account she and all govt. employees use.  Nothing ever came of this long, drawn out “witch-hunt” (because that’s exactly what it was); for one, because there was no there there.  One Republican who sat on that subcommittee even admitted as much, “off the cuff”, when he was heard to say that these hearings and the subcommittee overseeing them, were purely political.  Now, just to hear that, coming from the mouth of a GOP was damning enough, but the fact that nobody else – GOP or otherwise -said or wrote (lol: “wrote”) anything, rebuking that statement.

But we’d just be deluding ourselves if we were to say that trump “won” “only through chicanery and appealing to base instincts like racism, sexism, jingoism/xenophobia; the sort of “My country, right or wrong” crowd; so-called “patriots” who only want white, English-speaking, affluent people to be in America.  With that idiotic travel ban placed on seven “Muslim-majority countries”, trump’s already sown the seeds of more hatred of America and ensured there be more terrorist attacks to come, by giving the disaffected, poverty-stricken, idle young people in the Middle East as well as other “hard-core”, self-styled “Muslims”, giving them a “cause” for which to fight.  Trump is a real asshole, but he can’t really be that stupid, could he?  I mean, well, I just heard that the appeals court has refused to reinstate this idiotic travel ban, but of course, the WH is not going to let it go and will next petition SCOTUS to have an emergency session so they can twist their arms into giving in to their xenophobic way of dealing with immigration (e.g., just shut it down):  trump must know these actions are going to inflame those already with an anti-American bent and that more terrorist attacks are sure to follow:  is trump baiting a terrorist attack in the US?  I wouldn’t be surprised; that way, he’ll have an excuse to exercise all sorts of made-up executive powers and a scared-shitless American public will be willing to go along with all this creeping fascism, just as long as they’re “safe” (from the “terror menace”).  Canada’s looking more and more like a viable option for a place to live.  Vancouver, B.C. is a great city, so is Montreal and Toronto as well as many other towns all over Canada.

Anyway, with that, I want to just say:  “welcome to 2017”.  I hope your year is going well so far.  We’re at the bottom of the barrel, politically speaking, so it can only get better from here (well, that’s not necessarily true, it could get a lot worse, but for the optimistically inclined, we’re, indeed, at our nadir, after really doing nothing about it and letting trump just walk off with the presidency, thanks to help from Putin and his team of criminals).

Also:  going forward, just to let you – that is, both the readers as well as those who are awaiting reviews:  I’m going to start shortening the reviews I write: instead of long, sometimes drawn out articles, I’m going to start writing more concise, shorter reviews.  Reviews that will be around the 400-500 word mark.  Sometimes they might be a little longer than that and other times they’ll be around 300 words.  But, you’ll still get the maximum out of the reviews, you’ll just get the info in a compact yet concise review.  This way, with all I have at the moment, to catch up on as well as the new stuff I continue to receive, I can get, say, three reviews written with the amount of space it’s taken, in the past, to write one review.

OK, so I hope all you who’ve made “New Year’s Resolutions” haven’t yet given up on them.  It’s only February 10. Give it some more time, whatever the goal was.   One of mine is to get going on these reviews and start writing them shorter, so as to get more done as well as write in a new, less wordy style.  Hope you’ll stick around to see how things look over the next month.

Signing off for now…

Kent Manthie

PS- just an FYI: if you’re reading this & that cool pic of Tim Leary isn’t radiating colors when you first see it, just click it and that should start it going.  🙂