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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Of Montreal: "Skeletal Lamping" Album Review

On Of Montreal’s 2007 album, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, Kevin Barnes channelled his inner Bowie and introduced us all to a bizarre cross-dressing persona named Georgie Fruit. For a few amazing tracks, we got a taste of what Barnes’ “black shemale “ had to offer. On Skeletal Lamping, Georgie Fruit breaks free and largely runs the show. The result is a complex, difficult listen, that is equally confusing and amazing.

Skeletal Lamping opens with a skittery string synth that masks the darkness and diversity of the album (and song) with a more carefree, breezy feel. The song, “Nonpareil of Favor,” is one of the album’s weaker tracks, but it does an appropriate job of opening the album on a high note and then transforming it into something completely different than what most would expect. The majority of the song’s 6 minutes is filled with loud, distorted eighth notes that capture Kevin Barnes’ mental collapse into Georgie Fruit rather appropriately. It is not the most enjoyable of songs, but it serves its purpose.

By the time the second track rolls around, Barnes’ transformation is complete. The declaration of “I’m a motherf**kin’ headline/ oh, b**ch you don’t even know it!” doesn’t sound like Kevin at all, and that’s because it isn’t. “Wicked Wisdom” is Skeletal Lamping in a nutshell; a song filled with multiple movements, most of which don’t flow naturally from one to the next. The very fact that nearly every track on the album is filled with multiple songs and snippets makes it a difficult album to review or explain. Just know that what a song sounds like at its inception is usually completely different from what it will sound like by its end.

There are a few songs on the album which don’t follow this pattern, like “For Our Elegant Caste” or “Gallery Piece” which largely keep the same basic feel throughout their lengths. The former is almost a guaranteed single, and will likely be the first track that jumps out at most listeners. It’s a captivating track with an inescapably singable chorus, even if it is a bit discomforting (“We can do it softcore if you want/ but you should know I take it both ways”). “Gallery Piece” is a less-enchanting, bass-driven dance track that should fare better at a live show than it does here. As it stands, it can be a bit repetitive and is only worth listening to for its bridge.

“An Elaurdian Instance” brings back “I Was Never Young’s” trumpets with a triumphant entry of a first movement. The song (also known as “Our Last Summer as Independents”) is one of the album’s sunnier moments and describes what sounds like Barnes meeting his wife. But determining where Barnes ends and Georgie Fruit begins on Skeletal Lamping is quite an overwhelming task. Quite simply, it’s difficult to tell what persona Barnes is adopting on any song on the album, which only adds to the confusion of it all. There are moments where Barnes is clearly being himself, like on “Death is Not a Parallel Move” where he addresses Fruit, saying “The identity I composed out of terror has become oppressive now/ I must defy this dark assignment/ I’m over it now.” But for the most part, the lines are much less defined.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Skeletal Lamping is Barnes’ ability to tackle a large array of genres and styles without making the album seem disjointed. Funk, rock, disco, experimental rock, and 60s pop are all utilized in equally important roles, and it becomes clear after several listens that such a strange mixture of styles really only makes sense when given the complex nature of Georgie Fruit. As himself, Barnes may be pigeonholed into exploring the far reaches of indie pop, but as a black transexual with a history involving 70s funk bands and prostitution, he can indulge in every bizarre sound he’s ever considered.

There is much here that has reopened the doors to Kevin Barnes’ vivid imagination, doors that have seemingly been shut for the last few years. Fans of the band’s more inventive work (Coquelicot or The Gay Parade, for instance) will find Skeletal Lamping to be a welcomed addition to the Of Montreal catalogue. Broken down to its most basic forms, it combines the randomness of Coquelicot with the darkness and variety of Hissing Fauna, without sounding like anything the band has accomplished before. I must admit that my first several listens to Skeletal Lamping were accompanied by feelings of anger, doubt, and befuddlement. To put it bluntly, this is an album that is far too complex to be fully appreciated by a quick uninvolved listen. Navigating through the genres, 15-second songs, and schizophrenic storytelling can be quite challenging for someone expecting something as accessible and catchy as The Sunlandic Twins. But the challenge is well worth it when the album finally clicks, when you start to learn that each song has a purpose, that they all have a story to tell. Skeletal Lamping seems destined to become an album that will divide fans and critics alike. But for what it’s worth, I know what side I stand on, and I can’t help but dish out the praise for Of Montreal yet again. Skeletal Lamping is the real deal!

Key Tracks:
1. “Wicked Wisdom”
2. “An Elaurdian Instance”
3. “Triphallus, to Punctuate!”
4. “Beware Our Nubile Miscreants”
5. “Id Engager”

9 out of 10 Stars

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Weathering the Storm.

As many of the regular readers of Audio Overflow are aware, I'm based out of the Houston, TX area.  Any other time of the year, that's not so bad, but when a hurricane sweeps through and knocks out the majority of your infrastructure, things can get pretty rough.  But this is life in a post-Ike world and thankfully, things are not as bad as they could have been.  The majority of the 5 million people in the Houston area have been without power since late Friday night, myself included, but a cool front has moved in, keeping it in the low 80s during the day.  I've been able to sleep in air conditioning for the last two nights thanks to a generator that we have running here, but there are many others who have been less fortunate.

But not having much to do in the way of work, play, or leisure has had quite the effect on my music-listening habits.  I've been doing a lot of it.  For the most part, that means I've been listening to Of Montreal's upcoming Skeletal Lamping on repeat for a month (I absolutely adore it), but I've had the opportunity to check out other things that have been sent my way.

The first thing I'd like to mention is an album by Bella Koshka, called Slow Dancing on the Ocean Floor.  This is a very stylish group from the Minneapolis area, and this album was sent to me way back in July.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get to it before I shut down day to day operations of Audio Overflow.  I've been listening to it off an on for about a month, and it's just not doing it for me.  The music is very slow and meandering, sometimes dreamy, but mostly unmoving.  There are moments of greatness occasionally, but they're all but squandered by the mediocre vocals.  But it's not all bad, of course, and if you have some spare time you might as well go by their Myspace page and check things out.

I got sent another album about a month ago from some really cool guys from Austin.  They go by the name of Black Bone Child.  Their debut album is a unique mix of blues, rock, and modern rock.  It's not bad by any means, though lyrics can tend to be a bit off at times.  It's got a very classic feel to it for most of the album, though some songs venture into modern rock territory - which isn't my favorite genre at all.  Still, if you're into the greats like ZZ Top or Stevie Ray Vaughn, I highly recommend that you check them out.  They're nowhere near the caliber of those great artists, but for a modern twist on a timeless sound, you could definitely do worse.

That's all I've got to report on for now.  I'm working on something special for Skeletal Lamping's release on October 7th, and you can definitely expect a review of that album in the next few weeks.  I'm also working on getting some advance copies of The Dears' and The Streets' new albums.  I can't wait for those.

To my readers in the Houston and Galveston area, hang in there.  Things are looking up...

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

For Audio Overflow, This is Cale. Signing Off.

Bloggers are a strange, egocentric bunch. We write with a spirit of self-importance, with the belief that what we pen is somehow important or meaningful. We often forget that we are one of millions doing the exact same thing, rarely contributing unique ideas or perspectives, usually not writing anything of note. But it is this egocentricity that keeps us going; because even as we know deep down that our musings are generally of no concern to the general public, we persevere in the hopes that it may affect someone, somewhere. It is this hope that sits you down in front of a computer screen every day, that forces you to write, even when you don't want to, when no discernible reward can be derived from your actions, your writing. At best, you can hope for a couple Diggs or an increased number of Google searches. But for the most part, the life of a blogger is one of little to no importance.

As the founder and main contributor to Audio Overflow for the past 2 1/2 years, I've learned this lesson well. Though the monthly site visits have increased steadily over the last year and a half (as long as I've been tracking them), the majority of these visitors are first-timers who stumble upon Audio Overflow via a random search query, read for a minute and never return. A few stick around, but most don't. Just a regular guy with no experience in running a website, I never knew why this was, and still don't. I certainly never advertised the blog on other sites, because I'm poor and unwilling to take that risk, but I would've thought that somewhere along the line the site would start to gain a significant amount of readers. It never did.

This post will in no way be the final post on Audio Overflow, though it is the beginning of the end, more or less. As most of you know, I have a few loose ends to tie up, though the schedule on which I will do this is completely up in the air at this point. I have given much thought about the future of Audio Overflow over the last few weeks, and several ideas have come into my head. In the end though, I'm more content to just let it die peacefully than milk it for all it's worth. As stated a few weeks back, I would like to do my yearly Top 31 countdown, but that has always been a draining process for me. I am not sure I will have the energy or desire to do that in December. I am almost sure that I will post the occasional review, and I plan on keeping at least a few contacts open to allow me to do this.

Essentially what I'm saying is that today is the last day of Audio Overflow. Anything that happens past this date is an extended death rattle. I would hope that those of you who have read the blog regularly would check back periodically for the occasional update, but I won't blame you if you don't. Should you feel the need to contact me, you can leave a comment (all comments are forwarded to my inbox) or simply shoot me an e-mail at

Thank you very much for your support over the years.


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Monday, September 01, 2008

The Top 40 Songs By Of Montreal

After eight weeks of counting down, it's time to bring this list to a close.  Here is the Top 40 in its entirety.
#40: "Nicki Lighthouse" from the album, Horse and Elephant Eatery (No Elephants Allowed) (2000) - This was one of the first songs by Of Montreal that I ever heard. It drew me in with its nonsensical lyrics about "the strangest girl that's ever been" who has a bad habit of eating her dinner on her ceiling and wallpapering the floor. But what really did it for me is the song's sing-along coda of "I'm a big fan/ Nicki Lighthouse/ You know that I am!" It's a fun song to pull you out of whatever sort of funk you may be in, as most good Of Montreal songs do.

#39: "Tim, I Wish You Were Born a Girl" from the album, Cherry Peel (1997) - Of Montreal's first album is kind of a mixed bag. There are some true gems, and others that just don't do it for me at all. This song is one of the better tracks from that album. It really help set the whimsical, carefree tone that many of their later albums would take and was one of the first times that listeners had reason to question Kevin Barnes' sexuality.

#38: "Let's Go For a Walk" from the album, Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies: A Variety of Whimsical Verse (2001) - "Let's Go For a Walk" is not nearly as wonderful by itself as it is in the context of the album that it is on. Coquelicot tells the story of a fairy-like creature of the same name who falls asleep and goes on many adventures with imaginary characters. This song wraps up the album beautifully as a heartbreaking goodbye to all of her friends that she has made. It is one of the most beautiful songs that Kevin Barnes has ever written. The instrumentation is simply gorgeous, and the minimal lyrics are welcomed over his usual SAT word-filled verses.

#37: "Rose Robert" from the album, Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies: A Variety of Whimsical Verse (2001) - Another one from Of Montreal's 2001 concept album, this song tells the story of Rose Robert, a strange character with whom the narrator loves to cross-dress and "gurgle and squeak" rather than speak. It's a zany song, even for this album (which mostly sounds like drug-induced circus music). Despite the claims of some that it's far too silly, there's actually a lot of cool guitar stuff going on in the right speaker, not to mention a beautiful piano solo and attractive vocal melody. This is one to sing along to when you're taking a long trip home in the middle of the night. It keeps you awake. Trust me, I know.

#36: "Go Call You Mine" - from the album, Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies: A Variety of Whimsical Verse (2001) - This one only clocks in at 1:30, and yet it features probably more instruments than any other Of Montreal song. Kevin only sings for the last 30 seconds, leaving the first minute to be filled with one of the best instrumental performances on any Of Montreal album ever. It's a difficult song to describe, so I'll just let you listen to it. I hope you'll agree that it deserves a spot on this list.

#35: "Disconnect the Dots" from the album, Satanic Panic in the Attic (2004) - So the scene goes something like this. I hear a few Of Montreal songs on the internet (from The Gay Parade, specifically) and decide, "Wow, that's really cool sounding. I think I'll go buy that album!" So I head out to my local record store, only to find that The Gay Parade is out of print. Boo! I pick up Satanic Panic in the Attic instead, never having heard a song. I pop it into my vehicle on the ride home and "BLAM!" I am an instant Of Montreal fan. This lead-off track to that album hooked me right in with its catchy lyrics and sweet harmonies. It came completely unexpected to me as I was expecting a whole lot more folksy, circus music. What I got was an electronic pop masterpiece and one of my favorite albums of the last decade or so.

#34: "Doing Nothing" from the album, Aldhils Arboretum (2002) - Though I'm no expert on popular opinion, I believe that their 2002 album, Aldhils Arboretum, is generally considered to be the worst of the bunch. I heartily disagree, however, and find that even though it is not quite as solid as their best, it is far from their worst. Another lead-off track, "Doing Nothing" sounds a bit like the Friends theme song before cascading into a wonderful indie pop treat. Kevin's lyrics are sing-along quality, as they usually are, but even more here than usual. Sure, the album is hit or miss, but this one will always give you a reason to pop in the ol' CD player.

#33: "So Begins Our Alabee" from the album, The Sunlandic Twins (2005) - Whereas Satanic Panic merely hinted at the electronic pop direction that Kevin Barnes would take Of Montreal in the future, it wasn't until 2005 that fans actually found out what that would sound like: awesome. "So Begins Our Alabee" was the first track on The Sunlandic Twins that seemed to rely wholly on electronic instrumentation. Though there is some slight bass and electric guitar, the majority of this one is synth-based, with enough electronic drums and flutters to get anyone excited. A smart move by Kevin Barnes, as it made his then mostly-unknown band into one of the most-popular indie acts of the past few years. A T-Mobile commercial? Come on!

#32: "Sink the Seine" from the album, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? (2007) - Leave it to me to place this overlooked "filler" track from last year's masterpiece on this list. The fact of the matter is that "Sink the Seine" remains one of the catchiest, most memorable tracks from Hissing Fauna. Not much else to say. I mean, it's only a minute long.

#31: "Du Og Meg" from the album, Icons, Abstract Thee EP (2007) - Ahh yes. What would an Of Montreal list be without mention of at least some of there EP-only tracks? The simple truth is that if you're only listening to the LPs, you're missing out on a lot of great songs. Where most artist will place throwaways on an EP, Kevin Barnes focuses more on the good songs that just didn't fit with the flow of his LPs. "Du Og Meg" is an absolutely fabulous track that takes Of Montreal back to its roots in that it tells a story of a couple characters. Of course, it's no "Jaques Lamure," but it's still one of the band's most infectious tracks. Worth mentioning, worth listing, worth listening to again and again.

#30: "I Was Never Young" from the album, The Sunlandic Twins (2005) - When I first got my hands on The Sunlandic Twins back in 2005, I was excited to hear that the lead-off track "Requiem for O.M.M.2" showed a nice evolution of Of Montreal's sound. It wasn't until this song (track 2) that I realized that this was much more than an evolution, it was a revolution (oh yeah, I just went there). Caveman chants, mariachi trumpets, electronic drums...hell, this song has it all!

#29: "My Favorite Boxer" from the album, The Gay Parade (1999) - One of the many reasons why everyone should listen to The Gay Parade before calling themselves an Of Montreal fan, "My Favorite Boxer" is a charming, humorous story about a poor lad who idolizes a boxer named Hector Ormano. Feeling bad for someone has never been so joyous!

#28: "Eros' Entropic Tundra" from the album, Satanic Panic in the Attic (2004) - Leave it to Kevin Barnes to name a song "Eros' Entropic Tundra" when the obvious and easy title would be "Sad Love" (yes, kiddies, that's this song). This was one of the first times that I ever heard an Of Montreal be kind of sad, and I loved it. It's heartfelt, earnest, and real which served as a nice break from all the necromancing and British tour diaries that overran the album. Of course, we would later get a whole heap of sad songs on Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? But in many ways, you never forget your first.

#27: "Penelope" from the album, Coquelecot Asleep In the Poppies: A Variety of Whimsical Verse (2001) - Honestly, this is a really great song, thus explaining its spot on this list. But I fear that I might actually like Casper and the Cookies' cover version better. I'm sure if Kevin Barnes had dreamt up the song in 2007 that he would have come up with something eerily similar to what those guys did. Still, the original flows much better and feels a whole lot less gimmicky.

#26: "She's A Rejector" from the album, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? (2007) - As great as this song is, I never realized the full extent of its awesomeness until I saw the band perform it live in January of 2007. This is one of the few songs that I've ever heard sound better live than it does on the album. That's not to detract from its greatness though, it's a blast to listen to, sing along to, and freak out to at the right moments ("I CAN'T, I CAN'T, I CAN'T, I CAN'T!!").

#25 - "Vegan in Furs" from the album, Satanic Panic in the Attic (2004) - "Vegan in Furs" is probably the best album-ender in Of Montreal history. With a catchy melody, crazy guitars, and a sing-along quality coda (I think that's the second time I've used that phrase in the last 48 hours), this song is undeniably awesome. It drips with Of Montreal's trademark indie pop sound and Kevin Barnes' usually strange lyricism. It reminds me of the good times before Of Montreal turned into a group that 15-year old girls can dance like skanks to. For that, this song makes it to #25.

#24 - "Butterscotching Mr. Lynn" from the album, Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies: A Variety of Whimsical Verse (2001) - At under 2 minutes long, it would be easy for many to overlook this great song. It perfectly captures Coquelicot's whimsical feel while remaining sane enough (for the most part) for even the most casual of listeners to dig it entirely. Again, I do tend to get a little sentimental when I listen to old classics like this one. It's so perfectly constructed, deep, and exciting, that it makes a fly beat and cool bass line seem like child's play. Not to completely trash Of Montreal's newer work, I love that stuff too. But there's just something about songs like "Butterscotching Mr. Lynn" that absolutely does it for me!

#23 - "An Epistle to a Pathological Creep" from the album, Satanic Panic in the Attic (Japanese Bonus Tracks) (2004) - It's a little known song, sure, but it's an absolute blast to hear. When I first got wind of it, I was in college, so Barnes' rant about a guy who "speaks as if you should be taking notes" rang true with me. So many arrogant d-bags in college, and Kevin manages to nail every single one with his characterization of this pathological creep. Lovely! And because it's so rare, I've uploaded it for your listening enjoyment.

#22 - "Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games" from the album, The Sunlandic Twins (2005) - Ahh, the song that made Of Montreal into a household name. While it's true that the Outback Steakhouse commercials really ruined hope of me every liking this song to the same degree that I did when I first heard it, nothing can erase the first time I popped The Sunlandic Twins into my CD player and jammed to this song on repeat. Hell, it was even on Cloverfield! Yes, my favorite little band has grown up and starred in T-Mobile commercials, mostly due to this song. Make no mistakes, it is a brilliant piece of pop music, and one that is oddly relatable.

#21 - "The Problem With April" from the album, Horse and Elephant Eatery (No Elephants Allowed) (2000) - This may or may not have been the first Of Montreal song that I ever heard, I can't remember. But what is important is that it's an amazing song that captures the heartbreak and hopelessness of being dumped, but does so with an amazingly upbeat, parade-march song. The lyrics are easily rememberable (Actual word? Spell check thinks so.) and easily some of Barnes' catchiest to date. And hey, who doesn't love New York in June? Besides radical Muslims...

#20: "The Actor's Opprobrium" from the album, The Sunlandic Twins Bonus EP (2005) - If there was ever a reason to reach deep into that Sunlandic Twins case of yours and pull out the bonus EP that's tucked away nicely, this song would be it. The story of a poor chap who is honored to star in the great master's snuff film, only to find out that all blessings come with a consequence. The line of, "I want to be a star, but that's going to far," could probably be slapped on the t-shirt of every young hopeful out in Hollywood who wants to be taken seriously as an actor, but is probably more suited for pornography, or snuff as the case would be. Semantics, really.

#19: "Suffer for Fashion" from the album, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? (2007) - Of all the danceable songs that Of Montreal has made over the past 5 years, none fit the mold better than "Suffer for Fashion," the lead-off track to their most recent album. The first time I heard it was at a show about a year before the album came out and - whoah - totally blown away. Keep that click clicking at 130 bpm, guys. I wouldn't have it any other way!

#18: "Oslo in the Summertime" from the album, The Sunlandic Twins (2005) - Containing what is arguably one of the catchiest, most endearing basslines of the last decade (at the very least), "Oslo in the Summertime" is the audible embodiment of "cool." Linguistically, that may not make a lick of sense, but I think long time readers ought to be able to follow. The simple truth is that this song just makes you want to slick your hair back, throw on your shades and leather jacket, shove that comb in your back pocket and point at random people in tempo. Or maybe that's just me. Either way...great song!

#17: "Lysergic Bliss" from the album, Satanic Panic in the Attic (2004) - Let's go back, once again, to right around the time that I first heard Of Montreal. Satanic Panic in the Attic was my very first album of theirs to own, and I bought it without ever hearing one of its songs (I was more familiar with The Gay Parade). So at the time, I still wasn't completely sold on the band. But by the time this song came around (Track 2, I believe) I was completely sold! More specifically, it Kevin Barnes playing the role of dozens of schoolchildren and harmonizing with himself that sold me on the band. The rest is history. Boring, boring history.

#16: "Chrissy Kiss the Corpse" from the album, Satanic Panic in the Attic (2004) - In 2004 I was driving back from the ghetto, where I had just received my first tattoo, and a friend was in the back seat - completely high if I recall correctly. Suddenly, this song starts playing on my stereo and I hear a faint voice from the back seat, "There's soooooo much going on." I turn around to see my tranquil friend wide-eyed in amazement. That's what I think about every time I hear this song. Strange sure, but I always love how we can connect certain songs to different moments or times in our lives. That's the magic of music, I suppose.

#15: "Old Familiar Way" from the album, The Gay Parade (1999) - Once again, I'm having fond memories of some of the first Of Montreal songs that I ever heard. This lead-off track to The Gay Parade deals with being bored with everyday life. Stuff that used to amaze you now leaves you wanting more, the life you live leave you unfulfilled. It's the perfect setup to the zany world of The Gay Parade, with a cast of characters so expansive that you loose yourself in it and forget about your world entirely.

#14: "Nickee Coco and the Invisible Tree" from the album, The Gay Parade (1999) - There's something so intensely magical and unforgettable about this song. No matter how many times I listen to it, I'm completely captivated by the story of a young girl who climbs up an invisible tree, falls asleep, and disappears. As the townspeople rally together to locate her whereabouts an owl flies by and spots young Nickee Coco, eventually leading to her discovery by friends and family. The final chorus is emphatic and celebratory, and it gets me every time. "We love you Nickee Coco/ We were so sad when we thought we lost you!" I still get goosebumps.

#13: "The Miniature Philosopher" from the album, The Gay Parade (1999) - I'm really on quite the Gay Parade kick here aren't I? Hey, it's an awesome record! Can you blame me? This song is one of the more charming tracks from that album, about a tiny philosopher whom nobody takes seriously due to his short stature. It's a bit sad to hear about his continual failures in philosophy and how he continues his quest to become famous, but then again, who doesn't enjoy hearing about the woes of pompous, precocious philosophers?

#12: "Voltaic Crusher/Undrum to Muted Da" from the album, Icons, Abstract Thee EP (2007) - While not the longest or most inventive song in the Of Montreal catalogue, Kevin Barnes' depressing and self-depreciating break-up song is definitely one of the catchiest. The simple line of "You gave me a hand/I gave you a fist/Please don't lose any sleep over me, baby/I hardly exist" has been stuck in my head so many times over the last year, that it's getting to be quite ridiculous.

#11: "Good Morning, Mr. Edminton" from the album, Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies: A Variety of Whimsical Verse (2001) - The lead-off track to Of Montreal's weirdest album to date also happens to be the most enjoyable song to sing along with - definitely in their collection, but maybe ever! Countless hours I have wasted singing "Tip toe down the spiral stairs and just before the cellar door you'll see a picture of a juggler. Touch his nose and that will open up the secret corridor. Take the ladder at the end up to the street and run as fast as you can!" Grab a friend and make them sing harmony. Trust me. It doesn't get any better than this.

#10: "Fun Loving Nun" from the album, The Gay Parade (1999) - It's a sad day in the world when people no longer listen to music and smile.  So much of the music that infiltrates the lives of young people today is "hard" and "edgy," and kids try to relate to that without realizing that the purpose of music has always been to entertain.  But I shudder to think of someone hearing "Fun Loving Nun" and not smiling.  1.)  I doubt it's possible, and 2.) if it is possible, the person in question might be getting brutally murdered.  That's the only thing I can think of that would keep me from not smiling when hearing this one.

#9:  "Requiem for O.M.M.2" from the album, The Sunlandic Twins (2005) - The lead-off track to Of Montreal's breakthrough album has everything that I love about the band:  a catchy melody, an infectious groove, and roots in 60s pop music.  Those two chords before Kevin sings, "I never ever stopped wondering," just make me want to air guitar so hard.  Only thing is, it would be a pretty lame air guitar session, what with just two mediocre arm movements.  So I refrain.  But you have to admit, that's a pretty catchy guitar part.

#8:  "Don't Ask Me to Explain" from the album, Cherry Peel (1997) - There's a line in this song that has had me since the very first time I heard it.  It goes, "I'd like to marry all of my close friends/ Live in a big house together by an angry sea," and I always thought that was a perfect image.  Life is so complicated, so complex, but this line makes you imagine a much simpler existence.  Back in the day when I first heard it, it seemed like a pretty good idea.  These days I'm more content to live on some private compound where we each have houses and families.  A little strange, sure, but things could definitely be worse.

#7:  "Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse" from the album, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? (2007) - "Heimdalsgate" is the perfect example of what Kevin Barnes is absolutely brilliant at, namely taking a serious subject matter and turning into an infectious pop song that you simply can't shake.  Who would've ever thought they'd be jumping up and down at a rock show yelling "Come on chemica-uh-uh-uh-uh-als?"  That's what made Hissing Fauna such an amazing record, the fact that it could tackle such downer material but still be one of the year's best pop records.  Who else could do that?

#6:  "My British Tour Diary" from the album, Satanic Panic in the Attic (2004) - This is an amazingly fun song to sing to, especially when those "eee" harmonies kick in.  It's got everything you could want in a song; British jokes, a catchy melody, bitchin' guitars, amazing harmonies, a Gary Glitter reference, and about 5 seconds of "the most truly repelling techno music ever made."  Classic Of Montreal - funny, catchy, and musically impressive.

#5:  "Faberge Falls for Shuggie" from the album, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? (2007) - Take note, those of you haven't heard Skeletal Lamping yet.  If you didn't like this song from Of Montreal's 2007 masterpiece, you will probably have a tough time adjusting to the new stuff.  Barnes' transformation into Georgie Fruit on Hissing Fauna was shocking and a great change of pace, on Skeletal Lamping it's a force to be reckoned with.  The thing I love about this song is all the different things going on, all the different movements that it contains, the wide array of things that Barnes does with his voice, with the instrumentation, with the programming.  It's simply a stunning example of the heights that Barnes is capable of attaining.

#4:  "Jacques Lamure" from the album, The Gay Parade (1999) - Barnes' story of a volunteer firefighter with rotten luck is easily the most charming song he's ever written.  In just a few minutes, you're introduced to a character, sympathize with him, fall in love with him, and celebrate with him as he breaks free from the shackles of his small town.  It's storytelling at its absolute best, and the fact that its a pop song makes it all the more impressive.  

#3:  "The Party's Crashing Us Now" from the album, The Sunlandic Twins (2005) - Admit it, you memorized the claps to "The Party's Crashing Us Now" and you clap along with it almost every time you hear it.  You sing along with the melodies and the harmonies.  You question what the "elevator trick" is, and you have no idea what two black wizards would look like when making love, but you'd love to find out.  I'm right there with you, friend.

#2:  "Jennifer Louise" from the album, Aldhils Arboretum (2002) - It never fails.  Each time I go to an Of Montreal show, I desperately wait for the band to start playing this quaint little song from possibly their least-admired album and they always disappoint me.  It has yet to happen, and I totally get it.  Why play a song to an album that no one bought, that none of your new-found fans want to hear?  It makes sense.  I just wish it didn't.  "Jennifer Louise" easily made it into the Top 5 for a very good reason, and that's because it's simply too wonderful to not honor in such a way.  Now if only the band would do it the honor of playing it the next time they stroll through town. (Note to the band:  If you happen to google yourself and stumble upon this post, know that the town I'd like you to play it in is Houston, TX.  You're scheduled to stroll through on November 12, 2008 and it'd be a treat if you played this song.  Also, "Fun Loving Nun" would probably be pretty bitchin' as well.)

#1:  "Rapture Rapes the Muses" from the album, Satanic Panic in the Attic (2004) - I've yet to show this song to a person who has not fallen under its spell of awesomeness.  My sister who despises most of the music that I listen to became an Of Montreal fan by hearing this song, my friend who swears off of indie music entirely has made an exception for Of Montreal - you guessed it - because of this song.  Personally, I was already hooked on Of Montreal before I ever came across this gem of a song.  However, it was this one song that sealed the deal, that made them my favorite band.  Who would've thought singing "La la la" could be so much fun?  And to me, that's what Of Montreal has always been about; finding fun in unsuspecting places.  
That concludes this very long, and according to some, tedious list.  Thank you for taking the time to read it, and don't forget to buy a copy of Skeletal Lamping when it releases on October 7, 2008.

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