Posts Tagged ‘Polyvinyl Records’

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.


of Montreal

Innocence ReachesInnocence Reaches cover

Polyvinyl Records, 2016

Review by Kent Manthie

It’s been about 11 years now, since I reviewed Satanic Panic in the Attic. Since that time, of Montreal have been blossoming and they continue to amaze. Their new album, Innocence Reaches is due to be released August 12th. Luckily I was able to get a hold of a press-issued copy so I could listen to it- over & over!- and then write up a review.

Well, first off, I must say that Innocence Reaches shows that Barnes & co. are still going strong. Kevin’s psycho-sexual, poetic lyrics are still in the mix. The song that of Montreal (or whomever it is that “picks” out what song will be a “single”) is releasing as the first single from Innocence Reaches is “It’s Different for Girls”, which has great lyrics; a kind of androgynous meditation on gender roles and the boxes people get put into, identity-wise; but in this case, Barnes wants to show that the old paradigm of “traditional” marriage (whatever that means) has, at long last, been replaced by a new, forward-looking, tradition-be-damned kind of thinking. However, even though “It’s Different for Girls” is the first single, myself, I actually liked “Gratuitous Abysses” better, just thought it a little groovier, but don’t get me wrong, I like both songs. Then comes the laid-back, floating feeling of “My Fair Lady”.

So, Innocence Reaches is of Montreal’s 14th album, a follow-up to last year’s delightful Aureate Gloom as well as the great live album, Snare Lustrous Doomings, capturing some great live stuff from Japan.

One thing I’m noticing about this album is that the tunes – some of them, anyway -have a little more edginess to them. I’m thinking of “Les Chants de Maldoror”, for one, which has some nice guitar work on it. “Chaos Arpeggiating” is also a great example of what makes this such a fabulous album. As far as I can tell, this tune shows of Montreal in a more rocking context. Of course, I don’t mean to imply that they suddenly turned into a metal band or anything like it. No, oM, since I first discovered them for myself, via a review, I saw them metamorphosing over the next couple years. For example, after Satanic Panic in the Attic, they came back with Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer, which, ever since I first listened to it, had changed from the jingle-jangle, psychedelic-pop of the previous albums, they got more and more experimental, musically. Then, the next year, oM came out with Skeletal Lamping, which, for me, anyway, was a real treat: a great album, with sonic precision, great lyrics, and songs that were mesmerizing. Then, after False Priest and a couple other albums, of Montreal put out Lousy With Sylvanbriar, which, I think, was the beginning of a new phase for of Montreal. What I mean is that it seems like Lousy… was the album that started oM on the road to a new paradigm: one that infused a little bit more of an edge to it, but without losing that singular sound that of Montreal does with such passion and flair.

Another funky, mellow tune is “Ambassador Bridge”, which is a catchy tune about a girl named Sara and how she’s “Coming down from Detroit”. It too is a soothing, laid back tune with infectious hooks and grooves.

All in all, Innocence Reaches is a remarkable album; it shows that Kevin Barnes and co. are still hard at work, doing their best to make the best music they can- all for you! As I wrote above, Innocence Reaches doesn’t come out until August 12th, but, if you’d like to have a sneak peak at the new video for “It’s Different for Girls”, then see it here:

The more I listen to Innocence Reaches, the more I like it. I assure you, long after I’ve finished this review, I’ll still be listening to Innocence Reaches just because I like it. One more thing: if you are intrigued by the cover art, well, that can be credited to Kevin Barnes brother, David, who has good artistic skills. This isn’t the first of Montreal album David’s designed; he’s done some intricate, trippy artwork for some previous albums. So, in closing, I just want to say that Innocence Reaches is a splendid, grand album which shows that of Montreal still has “it”. One thing, I must say: this album has really pricked up my ears: it’s a shift forward from their last few albums, which is always a good thing; if you’re in a band, you definitely don’t want to have a big splash on first being heard only to have that certain magic fade over the next few albums. To avoid this, a band needs to be flexible, willing to adapt and it doesn’t hurt to be a little ahead of the times! Good times, good times. -KM.

of Montreal group photo

OwenOwen King of Whys cover

King of Whys

Polyvinyl Records, 2016

Review by Kent Manthie


In contrast to the music that other Kinsella-based bands (Tim and Mike), like Joan of Arc, Owls, Friend/Enemy,etc, Mike Kinsella, who’s been making solo albums under the name Owen since his eponymously titled debut in 2001, has been using this vehicle to express various emotions, lamenting past relationships, as well as, with a minimal musical set-up: acoustic guitar, drums, bass, piano with the occasional horn here or strings there. The Owen persona gives Mike a chance to do things a little different. As opposed to the alt-pop or the (NOT)-emo of Joan of Arc, etc, which are usually awash in sounds and keep pushing the boundaries, re: lyrics as well as instrumentation, Owen’s albums are basically Mike, his acoustic guitar, his drums and if there’s a bass needed, somewhere, he’ll play that too.

Owen’s music is painted with introspective, reflective, personal lyrics, backed up with,  an acoustic guitar and drums, sometimes an electric guitar will make its way onto a part of a song, e.g., a melancholy solo that an electric, sans distortion, can articulate well.

One thing that stands out when listening to King of Whys is the “bigger” sound.  That’s due to the addition of session musicians in on the recording.  Something which is a new thing – for Owen, that is, not for Kinsella, though, who’s played, along with brother Tim, in a smattering of Joan of Arc albums, Owls, Friend/Enemy and, of course, the more Owen-like project, American Football, who only put out one album, but that one album has really gotten around, it’s certainly found an audience out there, and not, all the time, anyway, for just American Football, but for fans of all things Kinsella.  Similar to what Owls did back in 2014:  they put out their second album, also after a 15-year gap from when their self-titled debut came out, in 2001.  What was quite impressive as well as a delight to see that, despite their not having had recorded anything (even though the lineup included three people who would play continual roles, coming and going, with Joan of Arc, so, it wasn’t like they hadn’t worked together at all over these years).

2014’s Two was a brilliant album.  It was as if Owls, when they got together to play; picked up their instruments, just picked up right where they left off.

Anyway, so, later that year and into 2015, the trio that was American Football re-formed and went on a small tour, playing selected cities.  That proved to be quite successful and showed that Kinsella (and others in this same, Chicago indie scene) has a solid fan base, consisting of people you’d run into at an American Football reunion gig, an Owen show and a Joan of Arc show; one possible explanation as to why American Football’s recent mini-tour was so interesting is that convergence of fans, many of whom love Mike’s other projects:  Owen, Joan of Arc (who, alas, has been quite idle of late) as well as Owls, Make Believe, Cap’n Jazz (the early incarnation of what would soon blossom into great things; the band that started it all) and Ghosts & Vodka, to name the most obvious.

Having reviewed every album Owen has recorded since late 2004’s I Do Perceive, followed by At Home With Owen, then New Leaves and others, I can say with surety that King of Whys has reignited the spark I originally felt when listening to I Do Perceive. Long after I’d already written that review, I was still, regularly listening to I Do Perceive – I remember, still, that one “wow” moment:  that certain hook or sound or even a less tangible, je ne sais quois that, whether it happens on the first listen or whether it takes several listens (don’t expect this to occur with just anything; it has to have some sort of connection to styles, genres, formats, etc.that you’re already into), you’ll suddenly have this epiphany; like a spark flashing in your brain.  You suddenly realize that you have, as far as you’re concerned, anyway, a winner; so it was with I Do Perceive.  I was hooked.  I started listening to it just about every day.  Next, when I learned of Owen’s next album, I was really excited; I couldn’t wait to hear what was coming next; what did come next was At Home With Owen, which was another reflective, personal album, the songs are wonderful, well-structured and the lyrics, again, reflect much of Mike Kinsella’s personal baggage, for which Owen is, I’d guess, a cathartic vehicle for dealing with certain things in his past.  I’m not going to go too deeply into this, i.e., I’m not going to psychoanalyze Mike and interpret them.  That job is for the listener:  it is you who give it meaning, just by playing it – think of that as a kind of koan to meditate on.

The King of Whys finds Owen where we’d expect, but this time around, he used, for one thing, some outside help (this one wasn’t recorded in his old bedroom at his mom’s house). S. Carey, of Bon Iver, helped out on The King of Whys.  Bon Iver’s connection to Mike  was that Bon Iver opened up for American Football during their reunion tour, recently. This album also marks the first time Owen has worked with both an outside producer as well as a backing set of musicians.  The result?  In my opinion, it definitely ranks up among Owen’s best work.

I’m not alone in my thinking that The King of Whys shows Owen going in a slightly different direction, more musicality, bigger sounds, but Mike’s beautiful, reflective lyrics are still present. I’ve read some other write-ups on this album that also mention what a powerful album this is.  Some have even gone as far as calling it Owen’s best album yet.  I’ve listened to King of Whys several times, but I’ll have to listen some more and focus, to be able to best judge, IMO, the veracity of that claim.

Hungry for more?  For details about the CD and/or to purchase a copy, just go to: Hope you like it as much as I do. -KM.

Radiation City


Polyvinyl Records, 2016

Review by Kent Manthie                                                 radiation city pic

On their fourth full-length CD, Synesthetica, Radiation City have shown that they are no fly-by-night, “here today, forgotten tomorrow” band. Originally formed in Portland, OR by the boyfriend/girlfriend duo of Cameron Spies (guitar/vocals) and Elisabeth Ellison (vocals/keyboards), the two eventually hooked up with three other Portland-area musicians, Randy Benrose on drums, Matt Rafferty on bass and Patti King, who also plays both keyboards and bass; and, by the way, all five contribute vocals as well. The latter joined the band just in time for the follow-up to their much heralded debut album, The Hand That Takes You, with an EP, entitled Cool Nightmare, in April, 2012. A year later, their second full-length CD, Animals in the Median came out, also garnering positive reviews.

On February 12, 2016, Radiation City will be releasing Synesthetica, it’s fourth overall release and third full-length album. There’s already buzz going around about this new album. It’s ethereal atmosphere shines and shimmers all through the album and with Elisabeth Ellison taking the lead in the vocals, her lush, satin voice breathes a lovely air over the lovely, candycoated music. Dominated by synthesizers in places and catchy guitars which complement each other quite well. The bass and drums, coalesce together quite nicely. The rhythm section doesn’t come on too strong, but it’s one of those elements that, if they weren’t there, you’d notice it. No bombastic drumbeats and no dominating bass arpeggios, Radiation City uses the keyboards to express much of the emotion here.

Some songs worth mentioning here include the opener, “Oil Show”, which comes on like the musical equivalent of a “come hither” look; catchy guitar riffs crunching, great pop hooks that have elements of disco and soul. “Juicy” utilizes synthesizers to bring off a cool, chilled song that has some interpolating guitar jams within as well. “Milky White” comes off as a kind of trip-hop crooner, with Lizzy singing her heart out in what is a great, memorable tune which will have you humming it in your head, hours after listening to it. Synesthetica closes with “Fancy Cherries”, a slow, but shimmering beauty of a song. It sort of takes the grandeur of the album and for its finale, wraps it up with a nice, pastel bow on top.

For more information on the band or on how to get a copy of Synesthetica or one of their three other releases, try or for more. They’re also on Facebook, so those of you social media-heads out there, visit them on Facebook at -KM.

radiation city - hanging out

For all you Kinsella-fans (Mike, Tim and cousin Nate), here’s Mike’s band, American Football, captured live, in a video from Webster Hall, in NYC of “Never Meant” from American Football’s eponymous 1999 album.  Unfortunately, I don’t know the exact date of this particular performance.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.  –KM.

As a way to give you an example of their new album, The Things We Do to Find People, here is the video of a new Beach Slang song, “Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas”.  Hope you enjoy it.  Also – for more information about it, scroll down a bit and read the review of The Things We Do to Find People.  KM.


Beach Slang

The Things We Do To Find People

Polyvinyl Records, 2015

Review by Kent Manthie                                                                                   Beach-Slang-The-Things-We-Do-To-Find-People-Who-Feel-Like-Us-560x560

So, there’s this new band in town: Beach Slang. Their new album: The Things We Do To Find People has just hit the streets and news/reviews of it are popping up already, around the internet.

Anyway, the story goes that veteran Philadelphia punk-scenester, James Snyder, now in his mid-forties, has just reinvented himself with his new outfit, Beach Slang, which is a kind of new take on his proto- pop-punk band, Weston.

Snyder, being a sort of “elder statesman” of indie proto-pop-punk music, has come down from his perch, so to speak, to lead a pack of hungry new wolves, Beach Slang, who have a rocking, guitar-driven, fuzzy pop with a tinge of punk, catchy, rock grooves that, at first, well, caught me off guard. I guess, having been getting more, uh…let’s say “futuristic” or “neo-groove” indie music that was rock, for all practical purposes- hell, it’s all rock ‘n’ roll, just that there are so many subgenres- back in the early days you had this new sound of pop music which was a hybrid of old-time black-blues legends, like, say, Robert Johnson, Leadbelly, then later, greats like Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Elmore James and, of course, the man, Bo Diddley – and everyone digs Bo Diddley.

With a sound that recalls the prankster-funny-young smartasses, Descendents as well as sounding like Beach Slang’s new labelmates, Japandroids and perhaps, as I read in one write-up, a bit of Springsteen (?)- I don’t know about that latter comparison, though, i.e., Springsteen, unless you’re talking about the “Boss’s” gift for erudite, Dylan-esque lyrics, as evidenced a lot on his debut, Greetings From Asbury Park, like, on the two tunes Manfred Mann covered, which were actually bigger hits for Mann, than for Bruce (i.e., “Blinded By the Light” and “Spirits in the Night”).  Then again, his debut was not altogether very well received, critically.  Eventually, The Boss did get into the hearts and minds of many fans and critics over the next few years. But, I digress.

Songs like the blistering opener, “Throwaways” has a great context: the audience: are they the “Throwaways” from the song? The ones being sung to? Inspired by it to not give up and learn to love the underground? Then there’s “Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas”, a a funky little trip that moves you, out from the box and into the sandbox. Keep listening and you’ll find out why it’s “Too Late to Die Young” or find about about how to “Ride the Wild Haze”, realize what it’s really like to be “Young & Alive” and how you’d better make the most of this stage in life, because, in 10-20 years, you’re going to have memories from this time of your life and, man, wouldn’t it be so much better to have the knowledge that you rode the dragon, so to speak, that you made the most of it? You’ll also be exposed to a “Hard Luck Kid” and someone who breaks guitars (“I Break Guitars”). And when you die, you’ll expect, if not nothingness, then at least a “Noisy Heaven”. So, go with the guy who knows, James Snyder his new band, Beach Slang. This will prove to you that, despite what you may have heard or felt over the last year or two, “indie” music is not a static, isolated style of music.

Well, so, just to make it clear: ever since psychedelia in the 60s, through punk, reggae, ska, dub, hardcore, post-punk, goth, metal, speed metal, etc and in the past 20 years or so, what’s come to be known as “indie” -meaning music made by innovative, inventive sorts who had no use for big corporate labels and their A&R jerks trying to control the music and steer it so it will sell a lot of records and make the shareholders happy – fuck the shareholders!! – “indie music”, which, is not necessarily any homogeneous style of sound; more of an attitude which says “we’re going to do our music our way and we’re not giving an ounce of control to anyone! And if you corporate pigs don’t like it – GOOD! There are lots of small, niche-driven labels that can accommodate us (and they have, they do!)”. And, so, while the whole label “pop-punk” may have negative connotations to some for its associations with awful, commercial-driven, almost hypnotized cats who wanted to get rich and famous and get lots of girls and buy fast cars -the music came second. I’m thinking of those cats who just wanted to get as much attention as they could before the inevitable blowout and the “who are they?” moments which would come sooner or later. Thinking of bands like Green Day (yuck) or Blink-182 (blecch!) (juvenile class clowns who managed to squeeze out a few catchy hooks but were never taken seriously by anyone other than the 14 year old kids whose parents bought them the CDs) or the dreck of the Good Charlottes, The Used, Rancid (yeah, they have about as much to do with punk as my grandma) and countless, forgettable others. In the indie game, of course, there are going to be those who come and go and may never get a big name or go far at all, but these things were not those kind of artists’ interest in the first place. They wanted to play music because they loved to play music. It was the catharsis, the rush of the stagelights, the screaming fans, the fact that there were scattered around the US, many “outsider” types, “misfits” or those who don’t conform to silly teenage bullshit rites.

That’s where Beach Slang comes in. An indie band, ready to continue in that fine tradition. Their full-on speed-rush music is a great tonic for the times when you, as a teen, for instance, come home from a stressful day at school, for example – other kids on your ass about “why you wanna dress that way” or teachers who keep pestering you to study more and memorize, by rote, all these figures, formulae and dates, which, without a context in which to utilize them, will quickly become meaningless. This is the reason for good history classes sometimes in better high schools – or “prep schools” or at least college, when you can put what you’re learning now together with what you can remember about the scraps of knowledge you gained in high school. I gotta say, though, that, looking back, from a wide vantage point, I realize now that I have taught myself a hell of a lot more from reading books of my own choosing or from TV shows on educational channels, etc. than what they attempted to inculcate into me in school.

Anyway, the beat goes on, as they say, and this record will, like its contemporaries, like Japandroids, for instance, move you in a way that you don’t notice, maybe the first time listening, but eventually gives you an epiphany after a few listens that grabs you by the shirt and screams – get it?? – and, what happens? You do! It’s a very pleasing situation to be in when that occurs. So – get out there and rejoice!! Stand up and take notice!!! -KM.  [To get to Polyvinyl Records from here, simply click: – K]

Here is a treat for you die-hard Deerhoof fans, or anyone else who’d like to see some good live indie footage.  It’s Deerhoof playing “We Do Parties” live in Tokyo.

Also:  keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming review of the live album from which this clip comes.  This is just to whet your appetite.  Enjoy!!  -KM.

Hi there.

This is the second annual “Best of…” year-end, wrap-up, wherein I pick what I felt were, indeed, the best releases of 2014 – at least the best that I’ve heard.  I’m sure I may have missed out on something, by someone: I didn’t get a chance to hear EVERYTHING that was released over the past year.  What this list is reflecting is the various albums which I’ve reviewed here, at Independent Review.

I’m not much into ranking things or countdowns; “top ten” lists, etc.  The following is just a breakdown of the some of the most memorable albums.

And – as I am not “counting down” albums here, whatever lands in the number one spot, isn’t necessarily the all-around “Best Release of the Year”.  I’m just going to go in order from the beginning of the year up through the end.  Also – if you’re curious about a particular album, do a search for it and read the review for it.

Hope you will pick out at least a couple examples here and give them a listen to, if not outright buying a copy.  Many Thanks and a Happy New Year to all!  -KM.

* According to Independent Review

“Best of 2014” (In chronological order)

1.  Owls:  Two

2.  Hew Time (Self-titled)

3.  Xiu Xiu:  Angel Guts: Red Classroom

4.  Electric Bird Noise:  Kind of Black

5.  These Curious Thoughts:  Inventing Dr. Sutherland & His Traveling Hospital

6.  Denial of Service:  Totentanz (Official Bootleg)

7.  Sea Rocket Jasmine: The Window

8.  Lee Negin:  The Cheeze Chronicles:  Volume V

9.  Stagnant Pools:  Geist

10.  Owen:  Other People’s Songs

Well, there you are – that is my list.  And, since this is mostly a chronological list, I thought it was kind of interesting that Owls’ album, Two, turned out to be the first one on the list – because to be honest, I REALLY love that album.  I’ve been listening to Two in the car, at home, and wherever else I am, listening to music.  For more information on Two – you can read the review (if you want to find it fast, then click on “March, 2014” and you’ll get to it almost right away, since that’s when it came out & that’s when I reviewed it).  You can go to and, if it’s not up front, do a search for it; Two can also be purchased at Polyvinyl’s website, along with all their other releases: there are CDs for sale as well as the occasional 7″ vinyl, LP vinyl, special edition colored vinyl and you can also just pick up an MP3 version of a particular album -which won’t cost you any shipping, since you are getting it via cyberspace, with no packaging, etc. just the music and a copy of the cover so you can create your own CD cover, if you decide to burn it to a CD-R.  And then, there’s the merchandise:  plenty of T-shirts, hats, stickers, posters, et cetera.  With new titles coming out all the time.

OK, then.  Again, wishing you a Happy New Year! – Here’s hoping that 2015 is going to be as good, if not better, than 2014!  One thing that’s coming out in a couple of months is a new of Montreal album, so look for that one to be reviewed.  Their last full-length was pretty good (Lousy With Sylvanbriar) – so, I have high hopes for this new one too, Aureate Gloom, I think it’s supposed to be a little bit stripped down, a tad rawer.  We’ll see…


oF Montreal

Daughter of Cloud

Polyvinyl Records

Reviewed by Kent Manthie

Of Montreal, coming on the heels of their recently released Paralytic Stalks, has just come out with Daughter of Cloud, a 17-song mélange of superb outtakes, extras and whatnot, from the same sessions.  This shows that Kevin Barnes & Co. have been working madly, writing, recording and then sitting on a goldmine of a wonderful and unique cosmic radiance that harkens back to disco, but jams it with 20,000 volts of juice that continue the brilliance that they’ve been bringing to life for the past 10+ years.  Over the course of their great arc of genius, since 2005’s Satanic Panic in the Attic, I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing all their subsequent releases.  While Satanic Panic… was a lysergic pop sensation, cute and with a kitschy charm all its own, that still didn’t prepare me for the future– the next release, 2007’s Hissing Fauna Are You the Destroyer? was a blast – a pleasant surprise that took unexpected twists and turns and really made me sit up and take notice.  This was especially poignant at a time when I was going through about 20 CDs a week or so, many of which were mediocre at best, some good, some bad, but very little of it was outstandingly awesome – or conversely, considerably awful – enough for a passionate review.

But I  wasn’t prepared for what came next:  2008’s Skeletal Lamping.  A genius release of immense proportions, I was dazzled by the complexity, captivated by its unique, androgynous unfettered sexuality.  When I received Skeletal Lamping, my mind was, at first, focused on it with my reviewer’s hat on, being objective, listening closely to try and get inside the mind of Kevin Barnes, who writes all the songs and is the main man of this Athens, GA-based band.  I had to go through it at least twice in order to not miss anything and to revisit what I may have missed or misinterpreted.  After finishing the review, however, its sustained flying of the freak flag had so blown my mind, I put it on my Windows Media Player, where it lives a nice life now and comes out often to be a part of my MP3  lineup.  Listening to Skeletal Lamping was something that I did quite often for the first few months, not that it’s now just sitting there, taking up space – I still listen to it whenever I feel the urge to tune in and drop out.  One thing that adds an ethereal mystique to Skeletal Lamping was the way the songs melt into each other; the songs have a tactile complexity which doesn’t let up and morph into one another, making it difficult to recognize where one ends and the next begins, making it necessary for one to listen to all 15 songs in one sitting, for example, I can’t think of picking out one particular song to listen to, disembodied, as it were, from the rest of the album, although, “Women’s Studies Victims” and “Beware Our Nubile Miscreants” are both worth mentioning as blissful examples of Kevin Barnes’s talented songwriting style.  Skeletal Lamping is a carousel ride on acid that knocked me out and threw me down a rabbithole that upended my top-heavy, ennui-filled life and after a whirligig of a ride I was spit out the other side and sent back to society, awakening as if from a dream.  Look out for “Feminine Effects” as well; you’ll be, well, interested, in some way, I’m sure, by the country influences that show up, as with the pedal steel guitar you hear, playing in the background.  They end Daughter of Cloud with a beautiful, genuine version of “Expecting to Fly”, the Neil Young classic.

The cover of an old Neil Young song by of Montreal just proves once again that Neil, ever the renaissance man, has appealed to three generations of musicians and music-lovers.  His songs constitute a self-made genre, one all his own that has snaked through the years all over the place, not necessarily changing with the wind, a la the Rolling Stones, but rather, setting down a style, unique, all his own, that just happens to never let itself be stuck in a bygone era.  He may be aging a bit and he’s still making music, but, unlike a lot of his peers from that era, he is not what you’d call a “dinosaur”, as he makes a point to keep things fresh and not dwell on the past.  Anyone who has seen him in concert anytime in the past 20 years, say, can attest to the fact that he doesn’t go through the motions of singing a “greatest hits” revue of his older relics from a previous age, even though there are some that are timeless and still are as fresh today as ever .

But, back to the band at hand:  of Montreal have done a great service in releasing these precious new tunes that, for one, put out there 17 new songs for longtime fans as well as newcomers, alike.  Anyone else wishing to get a taste of the future, would do well to start with Daughter of Cloud, this new OM CD, since because or despite the drifting away from what they sounded like circa Satanic Panic in the Attic, of Montreal have been experimenting with more electronics and a kind of 21st Century Schizoid Clubkid.  Well, whatever you want to label of Montreal, just don’t call them emo!!! (because they’re far from being so, which is why I was trying to be funny.

Bottom line here:  of Montreal’s new album, Daughter of Cloud is one of the best they’ve done in a while.  While I was a little disappointed in False Priest -at least, when I wrote that I was writing that, “saying”this because False Priest was the follow-up to the wonderful,, brilliant, Skeletal Lamping a real statement.  The exact message is a bit unclear, but it sounds like it’s going to take a lot of psychedelics which can help to open people’s minds, possibly change some (hopefully “some” means “many”!) to help get over the behaviors and the concomitant problems arising out of them.   I think that, if you’re in the right frame of mind, Skeletal Lamping can be a great starting off point for you; not just musically, but artistically, more broadly speaking, as well as leading by example and not be a jerk like several so-called “Rockstars” (I hate that term) who’ve appointed themselves political & social spokespeople for various causes, ugh, how nauseating.  Not so with of Montreal, though- no matter whether you’re listening to Satanic Panic…or Lousy With Sylvanbriar or this new album, which, as I’ve written above, in so many words, is not only a wonderful album, but it heralds a bolder, more experimental of Montreal.  Unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing about, well, say, 84% of music, overall.   Right now I’m just happy that Barnes and his fellow performers are as strong a force as ever and they are continually making great music that keeps churning and burning and keep the faithful out there satisfied while awaiting the next great breath of Bacchus.  -KM