Of Montreal, Disconnect the Dots, Lysergic Bliss (live), Art Snob Solutions (live)

R.E.M. broke up yesterday, but worry not, because Athens, Georgia rocks on with their other native sons, Of Montreal.  Of Montreal, famously not “of Montreal,” hail from R.E.M.’s hometown too.  Kevin Barnes, the group’s extroverted introvert genius front man, is peculiar guy.  When he broke into music, his talent wasn’t entirely assembled.  His early home record, Cherry Peel, is pretty terrible.  The only redeeming feature was  the strange lyrical sense.  It mixed a sublimely inspired high brow thing with an almost crass vulnerability.  Even though his early records weren’t great, Kevin kept plugging away, churning out song after song, and record after record, becoming one of the most prolific artists in rock and roll.  Along the way, his talent skyrocketed, and most of Of Montreal’s records were entirely recorded by him, and featured stunning melodies, complex arrangements, and a mashing together of styles that was bold and futuristic.  My favorite Of Montreal record was 2004’s Satanic Panic in the Attic, a modern day Sgt. Pepper if I ever heard one.  That album launched Of Montreal into the mainstream of indie rock, and they have capitalizing on its success ever since, crafting an outrageous David Bowie and Prince inspired live show, and headlining shows all across the world.  The first two songs are from the aforementioned album, and the last one, “Art Snob Solutions,” was a bonus cut from The Sunlandic Twins record that followed in the next year.  These are my favorite Of Montreal songs, and not only reflect the spirit of Elephant 6’s desire to bring vintage Beatles psychedelia back to life, but Barnes’s own dreams of writing hits and becoming a modern day rock star.  Since the middle part of the last decade, Of Montreal has veered towards a more experimental funk disco oriented sound, away from their 60s British roots that I love, and they have become an object of profound love or hate.  Again, like Neutral Milk Hotel, I fall somewhere in the middle, not entirely digging their newer stuff, but not dismissing them at all due to my knowledge of the supreme accomplishments Kevin has achieved with his group.  He is just following his muse down a path where the one rule seems to be, “don’t repeat yourself,” and its a creed I wished more artists would live by.


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