“The Past is a Grotesque Animal”…Yes, yes it is.

kevinbarnes

Over the weekend I had finally watched the long awaited of Montreal documentary, The Past is a Grotesque Animal. I was hesitant to view this film for quite some time, as I thought it would destroy my perception of front man and songwriter Kevin Barnes. This proved to be an eye opening experience for sure. The film highlights the band’s career from the very start. Seeing all of the old footage of how the group came to be was rather charming and delightful. The behind the scenes footage was certainly a treat as well. Their vibrancy and quirkiness definitely shined straight from the screen. Every aspect of the band was touched upon. From troubling relationships, to the brilliant artwork and stage performance antics of brother David Barnes and co., it proved to be truly insightful. 

Throughout all of the good times and struggles the band often continued with, the film focused quite a bit on Kevin Barnes’ inner demons. The depression, the anxiety, the need to make ‘good art,’ no matter at what cost. The one problem though, is the need to make ‘good art,’ lead to the departure of longtime and key players Dottie Alexander, James Husband, Bryan Poole (B.P.), alongside Matt Dawson and Davey Pierce respectively.

The thing that struck me most was how easily Barnes removed himself from them to make a complete musical transformation. What came to be one of the most celebrated band of the 00’s, has changed into so many forms that there feels like there is something missing, especially in a live setting. The ever exciting line up during onstage dance parties are something that I, as well as many fans, truly miss. Though change can be good sometimes, The Past is a Grotesque Animal, made Barnes out to have villain tendencies. Whether or not this was the intention, it was an extremely fascinating look into a phenomenal band that has hit home with so many listeners over the past several years. 

I don’t think I will ever stop buying of Montreal records. Kevin’s songs have always struck a chord with me. This certainly gives me a different perspective into the world of of Montreal.

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of Montreal @ Webster Hall, NYC – April 30, 2011


More Photos HERE.
For those who know of Montreal might know them as a super flamboyant troupe that can round up a crowd of sweet smelling pretty girls and boys who lust after lead singer Kevin Barnes’ sexual copiousness. It wasn’t always this way, but as time went by members disbanded, got married, rehabilitated, and regrouped. In between, I guess you could say they found the voice they were looking for all those years. With over a decades worth of albums, of Montreal have traveled a lengthy journey to where they are now. Ten years ago you could listen to Kevin sing about fairies living life through an unconscious slumber (see album Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies: A Variety of Whimsical Verse) and before that of Montreal was part of The Gay Parade. (The album is a personal favorite of mine, but it’s narrative style seems to be a bit much for newer of Montreal fans. I still say it would make for a great play). It wasn’t until their 2004 release “Satanic Panic in the Attic” that the pieces started to stay glued together, and the songs became more like a journal for Kevin Barnes’ personal afflictions and affections . Now, of Montreal are an unstoppable traveling circus, and you’d better hope you have tickets to the greatest show on earth when they come to your town, because it is a show not to be missed!

The show featured opening band Painted Palms, a dreamy synth-pop collective that started the night amidst yellow, green and blue lights. Their psychedelic bass thumping tunes from their current release Canopy will get you lost in the woods on a breezy summer afternoon right by a water fall, even in a hot stuffy music venue in New York City.

The follow up to this scene was quite the opposite. It began with the entrance of of Montreal aficionado and Kevin’s brother David Barnes revving up the crowd in a suit. This was followed by some scantily clad ladies in flesh-tone unitards, and men baring capes and colors of the American flag. The set started with the tune “L’age D’or” off their latest E.P. thecontrollersphere. “For Our Elegant Caste” followed as Kevin sang the first line “We can do it softcore if you want/but you should know I take it both ways”. It’s actually Kevin’s alter ego “Georgie Fruit” who is the protagonist in the story, not Kevin himself, but that doesn’t stop the girls and guys from screaming their heads off.

The theatrics continued through out the night as they performed songs mostly from Skeletal Lamping, and “False Priest”, with an interlude of “My Bloody Valentine” performed by drummer Clayton Rychlik. You name it, it was on the stage, Painted Palms even joined in for a few songs and skits. Some of the stagecraft includes lucha-libre stylized mask and wrestling matches, a reenacted wedding, men in nude big breasted costumes, pig faces, booty shaking girls (and boys), balloons, streamers, and that’s not even everything!

Even with all antics on the stage, they performed an unyielding set without missing a beat.
Towards the end of the encore Kevin threw on a mask and pinned down some opponents which was followed by members of the band crowd surfing. Finally, at the end of the show, multi-instrumentalist K Ishibashi performed “America the Beautiful” solo on the violin while the audience sang only to have it turn into an official hoedown on the stage moments later. Though the photos capture a play by play of the show, it is nothing compared to the spectacle everyone witnessed. Wherever this journey continues to take of Montreal, I will be right there with them, and from the looks of it they are going to continue to flourish no matter where it is the freak train drops them off. Perhaps I should invest in a feathered boa and some glitter huh?

Words and photos by Cienna Wills

Of Montreal Announces EP and Art Book


Glam rockers Of Montreal are set to release a special five song EP and art book on the same day – April 26th.  Both EP and book are limited editions and you can currently pre-order them as a package deal (AND a shirt!?) by clicking on these links: 

http://www.polyvinylrecords.com/store/index.php?listID=162

http://www.polyvinylrecords.com/store/index.php?listID=162

Now, for the details.  The EP, thecontrollersphere, is being described as Kevin Barnes’ “folk album” (or, at least, the only way of Montreal could interpret one).  The art book, What’s Weird?, is the debut from of Montreal cover artist David Barnes – Kevin’s own brother!  The book spans David’s entire career and features his own captions that are being deemed humerous, yet introspective.  Be sure to grab both fast as both Facebook and Pitchfork pre-sales have been through the roof!

Of Montreal Announce Spring Tour (Yay!), Talk New Album


Though we are in the midst of awaiting another snow storm in New York, our favorite glam rockers Of Montreal are already warming things up by announcing their spring tour. The band has a few more dates coming up this month and then the party kicks off all over again in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Like all other Of Montreal tours, there will be plenty of costumed players and stage props around that will fill the stage. What new chapter the tale will take is up in the air but we are sure that Kevin’s brother, the infamous David Barnes, has something great cooking up as usual.

After this tour, Barnes and co. will head back into the studio to start working on the follow up to last years’ False Priest (Polyvinyl), in their “never rest,” fashion. New songs are already slated to be played on tour as well as old favorites, and covers. The next record Barnes admits to being inspired by the newest Sufjan Stevens release The Age of Adz. Go figure. The band will release the EP The Controller Sphere (Polyvinyl) which will be available on tour. Check out the tour dates below and get out your glitter!

Of Montreal 2011 Tour Dates

1/11, Mobile, AL (Soul Kitchen)
1/12, Tallahassee, FL (The Moon)
1/13, Orlando, FL, (Firestone)
1/14, Ft. Lauderdale, FL (Revolution)
1/15, Tampa, FL (The Ritz)
4/2, Halifax, NS (Halifax Multi Purpose Centre)
4/28, Washington, DC (9:30 Club)
4/29, Philadelphia, PA (Theatre of Living Arts)
4/30, New York, NY (Webster Hall)
5/1, Boston, MA (Paradise)
5/2, Montreal, QE (Metropolis)
5/3, Toronto, ON (The Phoenix)
5/4, Cleveland, OH (House of Blues)
5/5, Chicago, IL (The Vic)
5/6, Omaha, NE (The Slowdown)
5/7, Lawrence, KS (Liberty Hall)
5/8- Denver, CO (The Ogden Theatre)
5/9, Salt Lake City, UT (In The Venue)
5/11, Seattle, WA (Showbox Market)
5/12, Portland, OR (Roseland)
5/13, San Francisco, CA (The Fillmore)
5/14, Los Angeles, CA (Avalon)
5/15, Phoenix, AZ (Marquee Theatre)
5/17, Austin, TX (Mohawk)
5/18, Dallas, TX (South Side Music Hall)
5/19, Memphis, TN (Minglewood Hall)
5/20, Atlanta, GA (The Buckhead Theatre)

Of Montreal Releases “False Priest.” The Review.

I’ll admit it. I was getting pretty bored with Of Montreal’s glitter dance party that lasted for about a year too long. A fan of the band since the beginning, I will admit that I have enjoyed every second of their career, but things were starting to get a little repetitive. This is where False Priest (Polyvinyl) comes in. Out with the old and in with the new. They’ve traded in most of their glitz and glam for some 1970s flare. And it’s working. Even though the album isn’t released until September 14th, it has been one of the most anticipated records of the year. One really good decision the band made when making this record was bringing in an outside producer. Not that frontman Kevin Barnes hasn’t been doing a fantastic job at making their records, but sometimes a cook from another kitchen is needed, you know? That is where musican extraordinare, Jon Brion, comes in. The band worked with him to produce some of the most amazing tracks in their career so far. There has also been a few lineup changes in the band like the addition of a few more members to carry their studio sound to the stage, and long time drummer, James Husband, has left the band to pursue his solo career.

Starting with the track “I Feel Ya Stutter,” which could scare a lot of fans away at first, is a witty song. I’m not sure if there is any other way to explain it. The harmonies of Kevin’s voice for the most part are spot on. For the next track, “Our Riotous Effect,” he even does a little ‘rap talk,’ in there which oddly fits well.

Lets get one thing straight before we go any further. Barnes somehow can do no wrong. It’s pretty impossible. He is like the Madonna of indie rock. He’s always changing and somehow it always comes out perfectly.

The first single “Coquet Coquette,” which has been floating around on the Of Montreal live set circut for quite a while, is one of those songs you will want to put on repeat. It’s highly dancable and kind of sums up the whole entire record. Fun, witty, and makes you want to shake your ass. The guitar riffs in particular are extremely memorable, as they should be.

“Godly Intersex,” is a bit of an oddball at part, but it still works. Even when he sings the lyrics “We danced for miscarriages,” you can tell it’s a Barnes trademark lyric. They don’t always make sense at first glance but you know there is some underlying meaning behind it that will eat you alive until you find it out. “Enemy Gene,” features the artsy Janelle Monae who has been opening for the band and joining them onstage for the past year or so. It is a spacey and haunting song that still makes you want to dance. The bassline is very prominant in this track and emphasises the tone of the song.

“Hydra Fancies,” is a song that reeks 1970s. And that is a good thing, because that is the sound that Barnes and company were going for and it’s exactly what they were able to create. This album ends up being no less than flawless in many senses of the way.”Like a Tourist,” makes me feel like Dottie Alexander should start whipping out a keytar on stage more often (please?).The band really starts to come alive on this track, and I mean the whole band, guitar solos and all.

Up next is “Sex Karma,” that features Beyonce’s little sister, Solange. I’ll admit that the first time I saw them perform this onstage with her I was not extremely impressed. Though maybe I would have been in better spirits if I I wasn’t being beaten up by 1,000 16 year olds that happened to attend the show that night. Together on this track, Knowles’ and Barnes’ voices blend perfectly, like they were born to duet with each other. It actually made me wish she was on more than one song on the record.

“Girl Named Hello,” Barnes takes his voice down a few pitches and tries to turn into the nitty gritty rock and roll of the past though the music itself tends to be classic Of Montreal which of course, is superb. “Famine Affair,” fits in the same vein as the prior track, and though these songs differ slightly from the first few songs, it all fits together without missing a beat.

“Casualty of You,” starts out with a piano sound that will make you feel like you are going to be murdered in your apartment but then turns out to be one of the sweetest sounding songs that the band has ever created…or perhaps in indie music in general. To me this sounds like the records my parents listened to when I was a kid in the 80’s from when they were teenagers in the 70’s. Many of you know what I’m talking about, it’s very much a feeling, an echo in the piano, an emotion in the voice. It’s a familar sound in the best way possible.

“Around the Way,” brings the record back up to full dance status and the harmonies kick in again that make the song fill the room. This whole track fills the room actually so blare it loud. “You Do Mutilate?” the 7-minute track ends the record in Of Montreal style, blending most of the elements from the record into one song. That is one of the greatest thing about this band. They can touch on so many subjects and musical styles but can make it all sound as one big collaboration.

False Priest is perfect. Of Montreal hit the nail on the head again, but that’s no surprise at all, is it?

False Priest is out September 14th via Polyvinyl Records.
Of Montreal – “Sex Karma” (Featuring Solange) by ModernMysteryBlog

Of Montreal Releases New Video for “Coquet Coquette”


Only a few weeks remain until the release date of Of Montreal’s newest adventure, False Priest (Polyvinyl). That’s September 14th for those of you who live in a cave. Today the band premiered the newest video for the album and first single, “Coquet Coquette.” Things get a little bloody, well A LOT bloody for the band who are fighting with others on the beach. Ah, but who is the last one standing after all of the fighting and death takes place? Well we’ll let you watch to figure that one out. This is the first time we have seen the band in their own video in quite some time. It’s always good to see. Watch the band in action below!