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of Montreal

of Montreal Announce New Album 'Innocence Reaches,' Hear First Single "it's different for girls"

Music News, New MusicWeston PaganoComment

of Montreal has debuted new single "it's different for girls" on Zane Lowe’s Beats 1 show and announced new album Innocence Reaches will follow-up last year's Aureate Gloom on August 12 via Polyvinyl.

Right off the bat it's clear the (American) Athenian psychedelic darlings have re-enlisted frontman Kevin Barnes' brother David for the art direction, with this newest kaleidoscopic offering exploring the “wonderment for the female anatomy." The track itself also harkens back to a more pre-Lousy With Sylvianbriar glittery sound and bears at least a passing resemblance to label-mates STRFKR.

According to Kevin, the forthcoming tunes are indeed more inspired by his contemporary peers than past work,

Forever I’ve been detached from current music. I got into this bubble of only being in some other time period. I came up picking apart the Beach Boys, the Beatles, and symphonic pieces. But last year, I was hearing Jack Ü, Chairlift, Arca, and others, thinking about low end and sound collage. It was an extra layer to geek out on.

At least one other song from Innocence Reaches has been performed live already as well. Listen to "it's different for girls" and check out the full album art and (all lowercase) tracklist below.

Innocence Reaches

  1. let’s relate
  2. it’s different for girls
  3. gratuitous abysses
  4. my fair lady
  5. les chants de maldoror
  6. a sport and a pastime
  7. ambassador bridge
  8. def pacts
  9. chaos arpeggiating
  10. nursing slopes
  11. trashed exes
  12. chap pilot

Read our in-depth interview with of Montreal here.

The Top 30 Records of 2015

Music ListTransverso MediaComment
2015 year end photo.png

3. Beach House - Thank Your Lucky Stars

Thank Your Lucky Stars acts as both an extension of and pivot point for Beach House’s career as a whole. Many may want the band to actively change in a progressive way, but the band chooses to continually broaden their sound in the most familiar and microscopic ways possible instead. Perhaps one of the best integration of all five preceding albums, you hear the metronome, drums are crisper, individual instruments are audible, and Victoria Legrand’s lyrics are unexpectedly discernible at certain points. It's what works for them, and its afforded Beach House the ability to carve out a dream-pop legacy (and avoid becoming a caricature) on their own terms.

 

2. Majical Cloudz - Are You Alone?

Are You Alone? takes off where the Montreal duo’s preceding Impersonator left off; a paradox of bare-bones, minimalist soundscapes ebbing with lush depth that are somehow simultaneously tranquilizing and uplifting. Welsh’s immaculately vulnerable monologues and unflinching vocals are gently bold, and they drive their synth lullabies forward with severe care. It's Welsh at his most overbearing, and yet his tight grip is irresistible. Calculatedly organic, passionately controlled, it’s a journal reading in a dream.

 

 

1. Tame Impala - Currents

Currents is the most adventurous, interesting, and well-produced collection of songs Kevin Parker has created thus far, sitting atop Tame Impala's discography as the most mature and painstakingly crafted iteration in their twisted psych-pop world. From the lush synth tracks that bubble through the mix to his effortless, washed out vocals, every sound is rendered with the utmost care. Currents proves Parker is unable to stick with a certain sound, forever looking for new ways to evolve his ideas and push his project beyond what was expected when Innerspeaker first hit the shelves.

 

A Very Transverso Holiday: 50 Songs for the Season

Music ListTransverso MediaComment

The holidays are a magical time of year, a time often evoked through the use of song. We at Transverso have decided to collect some of our favorite festive tunes into a playlist for you and yours to enjoy in the coming days, beginning with the original Christmas song, Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime."

These 50 seasonal tracks are sure to be the perfect soundtrack as you hang ornaments on your tree, bake cookies, or leave your young son at home without supervision in a crime-ridden Chicago suburb for an extended period of time.

Listen to Transverso's 2015 Summer Playlist

Music ListTransverso MediaComment

Summer has officially started, which means you need a summer playlist! We've taken the responsibility of compiling 20 of the best tunes to come out so far this year that can serve as the perfect soundtrack to all of your typical summer activities, whether it be driving with the top down, relaxing by the pool, hanging out at a family reunion, or feeding gummy bears to Belle & Sebastian. Check it out below.

Yeasayer's Anand Wilder Announces 'Break Line' Musical with Star-Studded Soundtrack, Releases First Single

Music News, New MusicWeston PaganoComment

Talk about an all-star cast: Yeasayer co-founder and multi-instrumentalist Anand Wilder and longtime friend and composer Maxwell Kardon have announced the completion of a new musical featuring fellow bandmates Ira Wolf Tuton and Chris Keating, James Richardson (MGMT), Christopher Powell and Ryan Kattner (Man Man), Rostam Batmanglij (Vampire Weekend, Discovery), K Ishibashi (Kishi Bashi, of Montreal, Jupiter One), Haley Dekle (Dirty Projectors), and more.

According to the press release, Break Line The Musical “harkens back to rock concept albums of the early 70′s,” exploring “the classic arc of lost love, betrayal, and pride,” and is based on “a labor conflict in a Western Pennsylvania coal town” that the duo’s fathers had discovered in “an old folk song taught in Quaker schools in the 1950s.”

Conceived six years ago, Wilder’s project began to take shape in between Yeasayer albums and is reminiscent of his band’s debut LP, with a lighter, springier version of All Hour Cymbals’ freakier folksy vibe. Taking inspiration from The Kinks and The Byrds, the musical puts a contemporary twist on a classic art form.

Ahead of Break Line’s release this July 15th on Secretly Canadian (July 14th, rest of the world via Mute), Wilder and Kardon have given us a small taste of what’s to come with ‘Wedding Day,’ a sleepy track that begins with children’s laughter and reversed guitar strums before Wilder’s croons raise the tempo into full-blown folk-pop festivity.


Originally published on The Music Ninja

Lousy With Sylvianbriar is Anything But: A Conversation with of Montreal

Music InterviewWeston PaganoComment

Having performed in a ten-foot dress adorned with hallucinatory projections, completely nude, and with everything in between, enigmatic and eccentric frontman Kevin Barnes has guided of Montreal through a kaleidoscopic 18 years, 12 albums, and countless reformations in cast, spanning genres from vaudevillian twee pop, acid-soaked electronica, glam rock, and funk.

In their newest incarnation, a unique take on Dylan and Stones-esque 60-70s psychedelic Americana, Lousy with Sylvianbriar is anything but. Eschewing the glitter-covered, other-worldly, and androgynous sex-charge of their past few records, Barnes and co. have returned to their roots, recording without the use of computers on the 24-track in his home studio and emerging with yet another undeniably successful left turn.

Known for their flamboyant and high-energy live shows, of Montreal have incorporated elaborate stage acts, costumes, fruit, and once even a real-life, all-white horse into their musical performances as they convey Barnes’ meandering and shocking narratives articulated in his characteristically voluble diction and delivered in his simultaneously jarring yet soothing croons, shrieks, and falsettos.

Transverso Media spoke with Barnes about his beginnings, the new album and more.


TRANSVERSO: What was it like starting out in the Elephant 6 Collective in Athens, Georgia?

KEVIN BARNES: It sort of came together very unexpectedly when I moved down to Athens. I just knew one person who happened to connect me with all those other people, so it was really fortunate the way it happened. [It was] basically just a bunch of people who were making cassette four track recordings in their bedrooms and listening to Beach Boys’ Smile and [other], at that time, sort of obscure 60s music. Young people weren’t really listening to that stuff, so I needed to find a bunch of people my own age that were listening to those classic 60s records. It was great because, where I was living before in south Florida, there was nothing like that, basically everyone just listened to what was on the radio and dance music and things like that, so it was cool to meet all these likeminded people and to be inspired by each other and kind of create this new alternate universe together.

But you created the new record more or less isolated in San Francisco. What motivated this move and how did it affect you?

I’m not sure really what motivated it besides just wanting to get out of my comfort zone and go somewhere that sounded sort of exotic. I didn’t really know that many people but I knew enough people that I wouldn’t feel completely alienated in the new environment and [I] just sort of wandered around and spent a lot of time by myself and in my head thinking of ideas. I did a lot of reading, writing, and all that, so that’s cool, just to be focused to have nothing else going on other than focusing on writing. I think it inspired me because I was sort of romanticizing the concept of San Francisco and the different important cultural movements and events that happened there over the decades, [thinking] about the beat generation, the feminist movements, gay rights movements and all the important events that went down there. It’s cool because it’s a very culturally diverse city as well, so there’s so much ethnic diversity and cultural diversity and all these new places to discover, [whereas] in Athens, Georgia it’s a small town and there is not much mystery there. I’ve been [in Athens] so long that I kind of know everything, so it was cool to be in some new place that I could just go explore and discover new things.

of montreal is a bit of a revolving door in terms of members. How does it feel to be the solitary mainstay? Does that give you that sort of freedom you need to go to these places and do these things on your own?

Yeah, it’s cool to not have to answer to anybody because I’m very restless creatively speaking, and so it’s hard for me to really be attached to people in that way. I kind of need to be free to make decisions to help me go in different directions and realize different visions and so it’s just the way it is.

Your lyrics seem to fluctuate over a blurred line between personal and fictional. What can you tell us about that?

I think if you only write about yourself and your personal life it feels maybe a bit narcissistic, but I think it’s inevitable that there will always be some aspect of your personal life or your personal emotions or whatever coming through, even if you write about something that would seem like fiction. I guess I just made a decision early on that I wanted songs to be directly connected to my personal life and to reality, but I’ve gone through phases, like early on where I got kind of I got some bad reviews, and so I freaked out and [thought] well, I don’t want to put any of my personal life in there ‘cause it makes me too vulnerable. Then I’ve come back around to writing from a more personal perspective over the last six or seven records. If you write from a personal standpoint it’s likely to have a more timeless quality, just because you’re writing about universal themes that everyone can kind of identify with and they don’t really disappear.

Most of your early work is absent from your live shows, though. Is it because of those negative reviews? How do you go about picking a set from such an extensive discography?

No, I wouldn’t say that my decision making is affected by negative reviews of the early work, just because I’ve really sort of moved on, you know? I’m happy [those records] exist, but they don’t make any sense to me anymore; they came from a part of my psyche that’s either in hibernation or in a coma or dead or whatever. I don’t identify with them anymore, but the songs from the last six or seven records I still identify with, and it doesn’t seem foreign at all to play them. It’s really just wanting to play songs that I can connect with, ‘cause otherwise it’s just like doing some cover song or something. As far as putting a set together, it’s usually just a matter of thinking about what would be fun to play, what would feel good to play or would be therapeutic to play.

Drugs and other chemicals are often mentioned in your lyrics.  How have these substances affected your artistic process?

Everything affects the creative process and your reality and your day-to-day outlook on things. I’m so focused on writing and everything it’s sort of centered around that, everything I do is gonna influence that on some level, but I’m not really a recreational drug user or anything like that so I don’t really have that same sort of relationship with recreational drugs that maybe some people have. I don’t really use drugs as an inspiration. If I do drugs, which I don’t that often, it’s normally just to see, okay, how’s this gonna feel, but it doesn’t usually make me more productive. I tend to be more productive when I’m just genuinely excited about the thing that I’m working on. I don’t really need anything artificial to boost that because the whole thing happens organically, and its not something that I can make happen through this combination of different things, it’s just something that kind of mystically happens without much effort, or it doesn’t happen at all.

What can you tell us about the upcoming of Montreal documentary “The Past is a Grotesque Animal”?

Well it’s basically done. I think that now it’s at the point of post production, [going through] color correcting, making sure the sound is solid throughout and little things like that, but yeah, it’s basically done. It just got picked up by Oscilloscope, so it’ll have a decent distribution. I’m not sure exactly when it’s coming out, but I’m assuming sometime this year.

Is it more of a documentary on you or the band as a whole? What exactly does it cover?

Well it’s not so much about the music. I had no real involvement with the way it was edited or put together or directed or anything, so it’s definitely not my project. It’s probably more about me and [my] personal relationships over the last 15 years or whatever more so than the music and the live show and the artwork and things like that. It’s slightly more behind the music than something that would be more objective.

Speaking of the artwork, Lousy with Sylvianbriar has the first album cover in a while that wasn’t done by your brother, David Barnes. How do you go about selecting the visuals to accompany your music and what is the relationship there?

Growing up I always had a strong connection with albums and album art. Whenever I hear a song I instantly have the album cover in my head if its something that’s like a classic album that I loved. It’s a weird thing, just staring at the album cover while you’re listening to the album and having that really strong memory connection with the music. I always wanted the album covers to have some presence of their own but also to feel like a visual embodiment of the spirit of the record. The new record [with] the motorcycle on the hill represents a sort of wildness and freedom ‘cause I was reading a Hunter S. Thompson book about the hells angels when I was writing the record. [The] motorcycle represents, maybe not so much anymore, but what it represented in the 60s and 70s, [was] that sort of outlaw culture. The record, to me, is sort of hearkening back to that time period, [and] it seems to be a sort of icon for that time period.

What are some of the album covers that made such a strong impression on you growing up?

Well a big one is the Prince album Sign o’ the Times where he’s on the cover with his big, kind of, like, Randy glasses, or whatever, and just looking very androgynous. That one, and also the cover of Lovesexy. Prince album covers I’ve probably stared at the most, just ‘cause he was so serious and perplexing, this strange, androgynous, beautiful creature that was so talented and so versatile and different; each record he was a completely different person. Same with David Bowie; [I spent a lot of time] staring at the cover of The Man Who Stole the World and Ziggy Stardust and Low, and things like that.

What ever happened to your rumored collaboration with MGMT’s Andrew VanWyngarden?

We’re still close friends and we still talk about it, so I think it will happen eventually, it’s just a matter of finding a moment where were both open and available.

What’s next for you and of Montreal?

Well I started work on a new record and we’re talking about getting together in a country house out in Tennessee this summer, so basically just sort of collecting ideas and chasing different inspirits and trying to find some spark to create a new wave for me artistically. I think I have actually discovered it, but I don’t really want to talk about it yet because it’s sort of in this vulnerable state right now. I just keep looking and keep touring; we have a lot of shows happening over the next couple months. We’re going to Europe, we’re going to Moscow in June, which is the first time we’ve ever gone out there. Yeah, I’ll basically just keep looking and keep producing things.


Lousy With Sylvianbriar is out now on Polyvinyl

The 7 Best Songs Over 7 Minutes Long From the Last 7 Years

Music ListWeston PaganoComment

Ever since John Lennon decided to add a few minutes of “Na Na Na’s” to the end of what would become the timeless hit “Hey Jude” purely to piss off the radio stations with strict three or four minute run-time limitations, artists everywhere have experimented with song length, often to brilliant results. While many “Best of” lists of this nature have been compiled before, they contain almost exclusively classic rock tracks such as “Free Bird” and Pink Floyd; looking amidst our own generation I give you the seven best songs over seven minutes long from the last seven years in chronological order. Compound songs (hidden tracks and such) were not considered.


Peter Bjorn and John / Up Against The Wall

Writer’s Block (2006)

7:06

Delightful Swedish trio Peter Bjorn and John claim to be Abba’s illegitimate sons. While that may be ridiculous, they do have a legitimate claim to something else: The title of most underrated indie pop rock band. While you may have heard their whistling hit “Young Folks,” overlooking the rest of the masterpiece album,Writer’s Block, is a terrible mistake, especially “Up Against The Wall.” The rolling drums, meandering guitar, and subtle vocalization techniques combine to make such a biting reflection of a relationship deceptively upbeat and toe-tapping:  “Maybe we could make this work / But now you start to leave before it's getting worse / I don't know what you came here for / It's almost that I wish we hadn't met at all.” I could not say the same to Peter, Bjorn, and John; I am incredibly thankful to have found them.

of Montreal / The Past is a Grotesque Animal

Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? (2007)

11:53

This tense 12 minute adventure in angst and confession is the turning point in Hissing Fauna, arguably the best album in of Montreal’s extensive discography. It is within this song that front man Kevin Barnes claims to have transformed into his alter-ego, Georgie Fruit, a "dark mutation” that takes the form of a “black she-male,” as he deals with antidepressants and their effect on his marriage. Themes of existentialism and hopelessness intertwine as he struggles to come to terms with how someone could have “red-rovered the gestapo circling [his] heart” and love him despite his crippling flaws. The chilling ooh’s that begin around 4:20 will continue to haunt you long after the song has ended, and the synth undulations that appear later on sound straight out of Pink Floyd’s “Animals.” The line “It's like we weren't made for this world / Though I wouldn't really want to meet someone who was” epitomizes Barnes’s entire artistic career: bizarre alien creations that somehow feel more comfortable and better exemplify our most basic and secret human emotions than we ever imagined possible. He goes on to wonder if his lover “mythologizes” him as he does her and admits he’s so “touched by [her] goodness” he feels “criminal,” beautifully articulating the insecurity and altered perceptions that accompany the most vulnerably irrevocable love.

MGMT / Siberian Breaks

Congratulations (2010)

12:10

Following the success of their anthemic debut, Oracular Spectacular, psychedelic duo MGMT were given almost absolute artistic freedom by their record label while making their immensely underrated follow-up, Congratulations. That freedom allowed them to stray from the pop single structure of “Kids” and “Time To Pretend” and create this sprawling 12 minute conglomeration of acid-tinged streams of consciousness which vocalist Andrew VanWyngarden claims is his favorite of the album, saying, "It's kind of like eight different songs strung together into one, and the general theme is about surfing in the Arctic Circle by Russia." With crushing retorts such as “There's no reason / There's no secret to decode / If you can't save it / Leave it dying on the road” and the suicide note-worthy “If you’re conscious you must be depressed / Or at least cynical” amidst heavy reverb, this song undoubtedly has a depressing air about it, and yet the glittering synth and fitting realization of “Being here's always changing tunes” leaves you with an almost indifferent taste of acceptance in your mouth as you fade away, gently reminded nothing is truly ever “created or destroyed.”

LCD Soundsystem / Dance Yrself Clean

This Is Happening (2010)

8:56

It was difficult to pick only one song by the unfortunately now-disbanded indie dance pop masters and synth gods of the long song that are LCD Soundsystem, but I decided on “Dance Yrself Clean” based on the fact that it is quite simply perfect. Although a bitch to play on air during my radio show due to its immensely dynamic volume range (either it’s too quiet or peaking, always!) it is infectiously catchy and well worth the struggle. The initial soft patter of percussion and whispered vocals give way to a barrage of delicious, dance-inducing noise and hair-raising howls around the three minute mark, creating a drop that ended dubstep before it even began. Frontman James Murphy later admitted to needing steroids to help carry his voice through the recording process and protect it from injury, and while this may feel like cheating to some, it is a testament to his dedication as a musician and drive to create the best that he can, and the thought of this work of art having never been completed instead is far more discomforting, especially when considering it ended up being the very last song LCD Soundsystem ever made. “Break me into bigger pieces / So some of me is home with you,” he cries; careful when giving in to this song around your expensive music playing equipment, or he may not be the only thing left in pieces.

Cold War Kids / Fashionable (Bonus Track)

Mine Is Yours (Deluxe Version) (2011)

7:02

I couldn’t help but be slightly disappointed by the overproduced and polished third album by the soulful and, until this point, brilliantly raw Cold War Kids. And although it was still enjoyable, Mine Is Yours even left out the best song of all: “Fashionable” is only listed as a bonus track on the deluxe version, or a rare 7” that used to be available exclusively at shows before they quickly sold out (I had to hide mine under a couch in Atlanta’s Buckhead Theatre back in 2011, but that’s another story). It begins with vocalist Nathan Willett gently cooing over bouncy acoustic guitar before transitioning to a church organ, in turn introducing the percussion, and eventually building up to a delightful return to his wonderfully powerful and emotional wails of old (sadly, the only song post-Loyalty to Loyalty to really do so), as it builds in excitement towards the end, sending chills down your spine. “I am your style / Oh and you are my style” he belts out before asking, “Who will sweep you off your feet?” You do, Nathan. You do.

 

Young Man / 21

Vol. 1 (2012)

7:04

Colin Caulfield’s big break happened when his YouTube cover of a Deerhunter song caught the ear of the band’s frontman.  An album and record deal later he has put together a full band under the name Young Man, and the resulting fuller sound is perfectly showcased in “21.” The almost eerie piano opening is reminiscent of Musique pour Supermarché as it blooms into soothing guitar melodies driven by pulsating snares and Caulfield’s gently probing cries of “crying shame.” The also lyricized “indeterminate feelings” swirl throughout the seven-plus minute runtime, presenting indie dream-pop at its best since Beach House’s Bloom.

Grizzly Bear / Sun in Your Eyes

Shields (2012)

7:07

Daniel Rossen’s flawless vocals lift this song along with its listeners above the clouds in fits of beauty. “It overflows / It overflows / It overflows” within you, receding momentarily as the piano seems to contemplate it’s very existence, before it resumes, “Silver inside / Rushing on.” After erupting with pulses of distortion, the last track on the band’s latest album, and the final song they played when I was lucky enough to see them live, signs off with a blunt, “I’m never coming back.” We can only hope this isn’t true, and that Grizzly Bear merely hibernates before returning with the sun to shine on us once more.


Honorable Mentions

Bright Eyes / Firewall

The People’s Key (2011)

7:17

I’ll admit, I’m still not quite sure what to make of the prophetic mumbling that makes up the first two and a half minutes (Hitler being name-dropped here and throughout the album reeks of stabs at sensationalism), yet I can’t help but be intrigued. The commanding, military ritual drums, rolling guitar befitting of a sedated Jack White, and the typical Conor Oberst misery spouting of lines like “On all fours she's just so insistent / Fills my mind with jump ropes and slit wrists” seem to lack some genuineness, but even at their most calculated, Bright Eyes are still worth a mention.

Death Cab for Cutie / I Will Possess Your Heart

Narrow Stairs (2008)

8:26

Although it may be one of my favorite songs from Ben Gibbard’s extensive repertoire, it doesn’t quite make the list on merit of length, as it is essentially a 4 minute song with an enjoyable yet unnecessarily drawn out intro. I might prefer it half as long but played twice as much.

Real Estate / All The Same

Days (2011)

7:22

The sweet jangly melodies of New Jersey band, Real Estate, are impossible not to hum or whistle or sing along to (although not all at once, that would be impossible). This is the perfect song for lazy warm afternoons, or, I imagine, painting.