Hometown: Athens, GA
Tags: indie, indie rock, indie pop, primitive, thin
of Montreal is an indie pop band which formed in Athens, Georgia, United States in 1997. The band is fronted by Kevin Barnes, who writes, composes, and plays most of the music for his albums.
They were among the second wave of groups to emerge from The Elephant 6 Recording Company and the group has a style that is typical of many Elephant 6 bands due to their interest in combining musical experimentation with the basic tenets of pop i.e. catchy melodies and sing-along choruses. The band’s style has been influenced by conventional indie pop, psychedelic music, vaudeville and music hall on their earlier releases and by afrobeat, funk, krautrock and reggae on their recent releases.
The band’s style has been known to change between albums. At first, the band embraced a more simple, quirky, lo-fi indie pop sound, which occasionally bordered on twee pop. The band was created by Kevin Barnes and named after a failed romance with a woman from Montreal, though the story changes in various interviews. Barnes was the only member of the “group” prior to his relocation to Athens, Georgia. There, he met Derek Almstead, later of Circulatory System, M Coast, Elf Power etc., and Bryan Poole, who also performs as The Late B.P. Helium.
Together, they recorded their first album, Cherry Peel, as well as The Bird Who Continues to Eat the Rabbit’s Flower and The Bedside Drama: A Petite Tragedy.
A number of singles and a re-release of The Bird Who Continues to Eat the Rabbit’s Flower occurred before the release of the band’s third album, The Gay Parade in 1999. With contributions from several members of the Elephant Six collective at the time, it also featured artwork from Kevin’s brother David Barnes, who would continue to do artwork for future albums.
The band released several collections of singles in early 2006. Barnes recorded most of the band’s 2007 release, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, by himself while living in Norway and Athens, Georgia. The switch to autobiographical themes of suicide, depression and isolation of the album was a direct product of his troubled personal life during that period.
Lyrically, their style has changed dramatically throughout the years. In the beginning, many songs were narratives of personal or humorous situations, such as “Tim, I Wish You Were Born A Girl”, from Cherry Peel. This style, however, changed with The Gay Parade, where many songs involve small narratives surrounding invented characters (in songs such as “Jacques Lamure”, “The Autobiographical Grandpa”, “Mimi Merlot” and “Rose Robert”). Others act as extracts from fictional conversations (“Advice From a Divorced Gentleman to His Bachelor Friend Considering Marriage” and “Good Morning Mr. Edminton” as examples). With Aldhils Arboretum came a slight return to the previous writing style, except following more poppy, classical lyrical structures (such as the use of choruses, which are generally absent in the Gay Parade/Coquelicot years). This style continued throughout Satanic Panic and The Sunlandic Twins to some extent. On the album Hissing Fauna: Are You The Destroyer? the lyrics are much more personal than previously used, with songs detailing emotions within the speaker.
Another unique quality of the band is the fusion of ostensibly gloomy lyrics with bouncy, upbeat melodies and hooks. On Aldhils Arboretum, for example, the lyrics for tracks like “Doing Nothing” and “Old People in the Cemetery” focus on apathy, loneliness or death while being contrasted with cheerful instrumentation. Another example of this tendency is shown in their choice of covers; for example, Yoko Ono’s “I Felt Like Smashing my Head Through a Clear Glass Window” from The Bird Who Continues to Eat the Rabbit’s Flower. – c/o last.fm
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