Tag Archives: polyvinyl

[pre-order] of Montreal – “Rune Husk”

Surprise! of Montreal dropped news on Friday that they have a new EP coming out. “Rune Husk” is a four-track EP that focuses on the darker, more introspective side of Kevin Barnes’ songwriting. It’s a continuation of the more dour side of the band that goes back to an earlier EP, “thecontrollersphere,” and its follow-up LP “Paralytic Stalks.” “Rune Husk” is quite a contrast from the last few full-lengths, especially the relatively bright “Lousy with Sylvianbriar” and the at times danceable “Innocence Reaches.” In hindsight, though, those albums feel like departures  meant to mask the brooding lying just below the surface.

“Paralytic Stalks” was the last of Montreal release with its more or less classic lineup. James Huggins had left prior to the album, but Dottie Alexander, BP Helium, and Davey Pierce remained in the touring lineup, though the album was a very Kevin Barnes solo affair. The albums which followed found an entirely new band, new approach, and new sound. The songs remained autobiographical, but  clearly showed new influences, namely folk, country, and blues.

The material on “Rune Husk” shares more than just the brooding atmosphere that exists on much of “Paralytic Stalks,” but also a return to Barnes’ characteristic lyric writing skills. Verses are often packed to overflowing with a manic spattering of literary references, and more SAT words than a David Foster Wallace novel.

Songs are as solid as one would expect from someone who has been writing music for over twenty years. Some elements become exaggerated though, like Barnes’ penchant for disjunct, labyrinthian song structures and chord changes that sometimes drive a song’s key structure off the rails. That being said, if you’ve been an of Montreal fan for a while you’ll pretty much know what to expect.

It appears that now, with “Rune Husk,” the darkness hidden below the surface couldn’t actually be covered for very long. Whatever temporary reprieve was granted between of Montreal’s last three releases has concluded and Barnes’ is shown retreating back into himself to face his fears, and frustrations, head on.

 
Pre-order and stream of Monteal’s “Rune Husk”
The album will be officially released on March 17 through Polyvinyl, and you can pre-order it here. You can also stream the album on Bandcamp, Apple Music; and purchase it digitally from iTunes, or GooglePlay. Other options available at this link.

Stream: White Reaper – “Half Bad”

Polyvinyl is one of my favorite labels out there today. They just have such a diverse roster, one that happens to include one of my favorites – of Montreal. But White Reaper, Polyvinyl’s newest addition, is really nothing like of Montreal. This band is punchy, energetic, and just on top of it. The rambunctious track “Half Bad” starts off with just about the best drum sound you could possibly hope for, and check that fill. How could a song that starts this way possibly be bad? The answer: it can’t.

This is going to be a perfect Summer-time, road trip jam. I’m sure you’re listening to it right now, but to my ears theirs is a sound that takes the grittiness of garage rock, the catchiness of some guitar driven pop, and the energy of punk, and they manage to mix it all together to great results. The catchiest thing is the little synth motive that substitutes for a chorus. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the scratchy vocal track, shouted and doubled to only add to the almost overwhelming amount of energy already present on the track. There is a bridge that takes things back a little tiny bit, though the catchy hooks stay dialed up throughout, and it’s only a matter of seconds before they can’t hold back any longer, tearing into one last chorus.

“Conspirator” helps bring the picture into focus as to what we should expect for White Reaper’s debut: more powerfully energetic rockers with pop hooks to spare.

Like I said, they are the newest members of the Polyvinyl family and that means that they have a release coming out. Their self-titled EP is available for pre-order right now on 180g clear pink 12″ vinyl, CD and tape. Pre-orders ship June 13th and the EP hits stores on June 24th.

The band is also touring right now with Young Widows. Check the dates below:
06/19 – Kansas City, MO @ Czar Bar
06/20 – Denver, CO @ Moon Room
06/21 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court
06/22 – Boise, ID @ The Shredder
06/24 – Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey
06/25 – Portland, OR @ Bunk Bar
06/26 – Sacramento, CA @ Witch Room
06/27 – San Francisco, CA @ Thee Parkside
06/28 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Church On York
06/29 – Phoenix, AZ @ Rhythm Room
06/30 – Tucson, AZ @ Plush
07/02 – Austin, TX @ Holy Mountain
07/03 – Dallas, TX @ Dada
07/04 – Oklahoma City, OK @ Conservatory
07/05 – St. Louis, MN @ Firebird

Album Review: of Montreal – “Lousy with Sylvianbriar”

of Montreal - "Lousy with Sylvianbriar"
of Montreal – “Lousy with Sylvianbriar”

I’m sure I already said this, but I’ll say it again: every time that of Montreal releases an album I get nervous. I don’t know why this is. I have never been disappointed by anything that the band has ever done. Even obscure B-sides, EPs, old stuff, early 4-track recordings, I absolutely love all of it.

Well, now that I have my absolutely unabashed bias out of the way I’ll get to the part where I actually talk about the album.

Yes, Kevin Barnes has ditched his entire band that he’s worked with for almost 10 years. I think that some of them (Dottie Alexander, maybe B.P.?) have been with him even longer.  It makes total sense though, considering what this album is all about. Something else that I’ve talked about is the psychological story arc that takes place from “Hissing Fauna…” all the way through “Paralytic Stalks,” and that is over now. I guess that was the first thing that I was happy about when I listened to the album all the way through for the first time, which was actually yesterday when it was streaming for free on some other music blog. I’m not happy because that’s over, I’m happy because this album, working the way that it does, strengthens my thesis of the story arc in that it does not continue through this album. Georgie Fruit is dead. Kevin Barnes is back.

The way that this album works is as more of a singles collection than the album oriented rock that the band had been exploring for at least the past 6 releases. It’s as if the band clipped off its trajectory after “Aldhils Arboretum,” became an electro pop band for like 10 or 11 years and now they are back again with concise songs.

The personal lyrical content is, of course there, but the sound is certainly more immediate. Less studio wizardry is involved. The album feels more like an actual live performance than anything they have put out recently. It’s a nice balance between, on the one hand, albums like “Sunlandic Twins” or “Hissing Fauna…” that added that element of lysergic haze generated through synthesizers and dance beats, and their early whimsical works like “The Gay Parade” or “The Bedside Drama.” The songs are written for a “rock band” (ie guitars, keys [acoustic], bass, drums) like the earlier material, and for that matter the Beatles influence shows through on a couple tracks of “Lousy with Sylvianbriar,” but the lyrics discuss personal relationships and still have the intricate basslines that came out of the middle-period works.

I think that this album starts off a new era for of Montreal, where there was the early material from “Cherry Peel” through “Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies…” as the first period; the middle-period would be “Satanic Panic in the Attic” through “Paralytic Stalks,” [and yes, I know that that covers a ton of music and a lot of changes, but I think that the main thing that I am thinking about is the movement from mostly acoustic, retro and poppy to more synth-dance based with more personal lyrical content] and now “Lousy with Sylvianbriar” beginning the most recent step in the bands evolution.

The pedal steel has stayed from “Paralytic Stalks,” as has Kishi Bashi on violin, which is a good thing; and verse-chorus-verse structure has also become a constant element once again on this album. The addition of Rebecca Cash on vocals is the first time that someone other than Kevin has sang on an official release (“Keep Sending Me Black Fireworks” appeared on the Sunlandic Twins bonus EP, featuring Nina Barnes [Gemini Tactics] on vocals). Cash’s voice is most certainly a welcomed addition most notably on “Raindrop in my Skull”, adding a smooth and relaxed approach to singing that contrasts nicely with Barnes’ sneer.

And as far as the overall sound of the tracks goes, I don’t think I have ever heard the drums on an of Montreal record done so well. The bass drum is nice and dry, adding to that element of presence and live performance sound that I mentioned earlier.

In my opinion the second side of “Lousy with Sylvianbriar” is the side to beat. That side is stacked with driving, edgier songs that show the band really stretching out. The echo and brightness of a country twinge comes across loud and clear on “Hegira Émigré” with extensive pedal steel solo combined with a speedy and clean solo guitar work (sounds like a Les Paul). The album ends on a bombastic note with “Imbecile Rages,” with Barnes’ showing off his vocal stamina, holding his final note across 5 measures with a raspy, powerful yell.

Once again of Montreal has not disappointed. Considering that I have had the album for about 7 hours and I have already listened to it 6 times, I think that it is going to remain in heavy rotation around here and most likely on the year end best-of list. And I’m sure that I am not the only one that is going to have it on their year end list.

The album is out now on Polyvinyl. It’s also streaming on Spotify.

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New Track: of Montreal – “Fugitive Air”

of Montreal's "Lousy with Sylvianbriar" will be out October 8, 2013
of Montreal’s “Lousy with Sylvianbriar” will be out October 8, 2013

It’s always exciting (at least to me) whenever of Montreal releases an album. They have entered the ranks of “band that can do no wrong” in my mind. I have nothing but love for their entire recorded output. So, naturally, as soon as I saw that this album was up for pre-order I jumped on it.

Though, I will have to admit, after reading about the new direction that Kevin Barnes took when recording this album (one would usually do that prior to throwing down cash for the album, but I knew that I was going to end up buying it regardless). It made me nervous to read that “Lousy with Sylvianbriar” was created with a new songwriting approach, a different recording method, and a fresh group of musicians.” Ok, I am fine with a new approach (I love “Skeletal Lamping”) and I’m on board for a different recording method (I still regularly listen to “False Priest”) but what makes me nervous is that last part, “a fresh group of musicians.”

What did he do with B.P., why did he ditch Dottie? And Davey! You can’t get rid of the bass player in of Montreal! I realize that for years we have been listening to Kevin Barnes’ nervous breakdown, but this is crazy. I’m am keeping the faith, though I’m also not entirely sure what the tour will hold. Rebecca Cash has a fantastic voice that lends a relaxed air to the version of “Feminine Effects” that appears on “Daughter of Cloud.” I’m hoping that will continue through this album as well.

So yes, I am nervous. But that is exciting. The band….Kevin…..is taking gigantic risks with each release and this is just the latest incarnation of those risks. As a fan it’s been great to sit back and listen to the results. He hasn’t let me down yet. It’s like a trust fall.

We have one song as a preview right now, “Fugitive Air,” which will be the opening track on the album. The immediacy of the album’s recording process (apparently 3 weeks from beginning to end) breathes new life into their sound. Barnes takes a soulful approach to his vocals that sounds vaguely bluesy, with a touch of scratchiness added to the production. The song’s bridge transforms itself into a lengthy coda that changes the overall tone of the song from a song that drives forward to one that floats. Lots of good stuff in this track.

Listen to it a few times and get yourself adjusted and excited. The album is currently available for pre-order from Polyvinyl on CD, Vinyl (180 gram “sea glass green,” limited to 1,500 copies), and was also available on green tape (why anyone would buy a tape is beyond me) but it is now sold out.

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Catch oM on tour:

10-18 Athens, GA – 40 Watt Club
10-22 Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle
10-23 Washington, DC – U Street Music Hall
10-24 Washington, DC – U Street Music Hall
10-25 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
10-26 Cambridge, MA – Middle East
10-27 Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg
10-28 Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg *
10-29 Cleveland, OH – Beachland *
10-30 Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall *
10-31 Madison, WI – Majestic Theater *
11-01 Minneapolis, MN – Cedar Cultural Center *
11-02 Omaha, NE – Waiting Room *
11-03 Denver, CO – Marquis Theater *
11-04 Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge *
11-05 Boise, ID – Korah Shrine *
11-06 Seattle, WA – Neumos *
11-07 Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom *
11-08 San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall *
11-09 San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall *
11-10 Los Angeles, CA – Echoplex *
11-11 Los Angeles, CA – Largo at the Coronet *
11-12 Tucson, AZ – Club Congress *
11-14 Dallas, TX – Trees *
11-15 Austin, TX – Mohawk *
11-16 New Orleans, LA – Howlin’ Wolf *
11-17 Atlanta, GA – Terminal West *

  • with La Luz

 

New track: Deerhoof – "The Trouble with Candyhands"

(Originally posted on Tympanogram on August 7, 2012)

Deerhoof - "Breakup Song"
Deerhoof – “Breakup Song”

Everyone’s favorite San Francisco based fun-time art-pop band, Deerhoof, are preparing to release a follow up to 2011?s Deerhoof Vs. Evil with Breakup Song due in stores on September 4th via Polyvinyl.

They have released a typically quirkily named track, “The Trouble With Candyhands” on the Polyvinyl Soundcloud page that provides us with a short glimpse of their ever evolving sound. The addition of staccato brass adds a bit of a danceable salsa flair to the typically frenetic sound of the band. The guitars are dialed back significantly but Greg Saunier continues to carve intricate, shifting rhythms right through the heart of the song with Satomi’s high falsetto soaring sweetly above the foundation. You can hear snippets from the entire album by popping a token in the Jingletron. Based on this first listen it sounds like Deerhoof are placing a little more emphasis on their electronic leanings that started to show a bit more on Deerhoof Vs. Evil.

With a new album comes a new tour and Deerhoof are ferocious live, so check them out when they come to a town near you. And if you are in Portland, OR for their show (with the equally amazing Buke and Gase opening) I’ll let you buy me a few beers.

You can buy “Breakup Song” from Polyvinyl here.

Find Deerhoof:  Tour | Facebook | Polyvinyl


Album review: Japandroids – "Celebration Rock"

(Originally posted to Tympanogram on June 12, 2012)

Japandroids - "Celebration Rock"
Japandroids – “Celebration Rock”

When a band sort of falls off the radar for a little bit it’s natural to feel worried. In today’s musical climate a band only stays relevant for as long as they can pump out song after song and album after album. It’s even more worrisome when a band like Japandroids – a band so exciting, energetic, and original, and with such a talent for writing catchy, shout-along choruses – seems to be puttering to a standstill.  The Vancouver pair seemed to be disappearing into memories, stretching themselves thin touring 475 days a year, and leaving us hanging with spare singles and cover songs to tide us over.

The problem with such an approach is that the expectation for something truly epic, something that will exceed all previous efforts increases exponentially. And this is the part of the post where I let you know what you are hoping: they have.

On Celebration Rock Brian King’s voice is a little bit more crackly and weather-worn, no doubt the result of all of the aforementioned touring, but all of the energy and shouts are still there; not only are they still there, they are surprisingly better, more earnest, and more filled with joy. After Post-Nothing I think we all figured that it was safe to assume that there was no way this band could continue on in the same manner. In order to remain relevant, they would have to try to do something different, branch out, and add things to their sound. Well, here’s Japandroids proving us wrong.

Celebration Rock is comprised of 8 songs that fly by in a frenzy, never letting up for a second. The album opens and closes with the sound of fireworks, and every song is propelled forward like it’s been shot out of a cannon. The steady drumbeat of “The Nights of Wine and Roses” fades in, and King can hardly contain his excitement as the guitar enters the mix, swaying a bit against David Prowse’s solid backbeat. Things pick up from there, building until the bottom suddenly falls out, and the pair’s most jubilant string of interjections is extended over the following thirty seconds.

Usually I would say that a good album needs to have a shape to it – the ups, the downs, the entire emotional landscape, you know. Albums need to take us on a journey and allow us to get lost as listeners. But with Celebration Rock, there is absolutely no room for complaint. Japandroids is rocking harder than ever before; they are clearly excited by their music, and they are unapologetic for it. Every single song is comprised of hooks that seem so effortlessly strung together. Between the energy, the hooks, and the nostalgic impact of the lyrics, it’s easy to get lost in Japandroids’ oeuvre. The songs sound new and familiar, capturing the fleeting idea of reminiscence that we all find ourselves feeling from time to time.

The album also features one of the most fantastic one-two rock punches in recent memory, placing “Younger Us” and “The House That Heaven Built” one after the other, the latter of which is a standout track among an album of standout tracks.

The pair is currently on tour, but from what I have heard tickets are selling incredibly fast, and with good reason. Seeing a Japandroids show is a great experience, and one that comes highly recommended. Check their website to see if they are coming to a town near you, and to order the album for yourself.

[audio:http://quartertonality.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/07.-The-House-That-Heaven-Built.mp3|titles=The House That Heaven Built]

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UPDATE: The album is currently (TODAY!) available as a $3 download on Amazon. Go get it!

 

Album review: of Montreal – "Paralytic Stalks"

(Originally appeared on Tympanogram.com on January 16, 2012)

of Montreal - "Paralytic Stalks"
of Montreal - "Paralytic Stalks"

Kevin Barnes has always been one to experiment. From album to album significant changes in of Montreal’s sound and approach are apparent, which is what makes of Montreal one of the most exciting bands creating music today. They are an incredibly prolific act, putting out albums and EPs regularly, rarely skipping a year.

One can hear significant departures in sound between 2006’s Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? and 2008’s Skeletal Lamping. The next album False Priest, from 2010, saw Barnes backing off a bit on excessive experimentation and instead hunkering down with producer Jon Brion to make a psychedelic pop-funk album that captured the bands freakier side but also brought out their fondness for catchy, radio friendly hooks.

Lyrically the albums have run the gamut from the fanciful fictional tales of the band’s earlier output to the much more introspective lyrics found on more recent work, most notably beginning with Hissing Fauna…

Referring to that album as the crux of the latter part of output goes far beyond the fact that it remains their most popular work, and the work that brought of Montreal to the attention of many of their current fans. That is well deserved praise for a phenomenal album that found its rightful place on many year-end lists after its release. Digging deeper into that album, however, one will find the cell of an idea, the beginning of a rift: musically, lyrically, personally.

It was on Hissing Fauna… that Barnes brought to life the character of Georgie Fruit, who is in many ways a latter day Ziggy Stardust. Georgie Fruit is most likely Barnes’ way of exploring his inner psychological torment and sexual curiosities. Georgie is a man that has been through multiple sex changes, and the lyrics of many of the songs that are presented via his perspective are rather lurid. Of Georgie, Kevin states “He’s been a man and a woman, and then back to a man. He’s been to prison a couple of times. In the 1970s he was in a band called Arousal, a funk rock band sort of like the Ohio Players.” Looking at the way this character comes to life shows the birth of this idea, and the first instance of the actual depiction of physical, or psychological divisions in the music of of Montreal.

Hissing Fauna…was an album of two musical characters that eventually pulls itself apart, as literally as is sonically possible. It happens during the track “The Past is a Grotesque Animal” – a nearly twelve-minute long rumination on a circular chord progression that manages to build tension through incessant repetition. The song has no true verse or chorus, and varying phrase lengths offset the importance of certain harmonies over others. When the listener comes out on the other end of that track they are greeted with songs of a completely contrasting ethos. That’s the genesis of Georgie Fruit, coming out on the other side of a song that is the representation of a complete breakdown. This is where the journey that leads us to Parlaytic Stalks really begins. In understanding where this music is coming from it needs to be placed in this perspective.

If Hissing Fauna… is an album that is divided in two halves, Skeletal Lamping is an album of fractured songs that toss and turn into other songs in the middle, sometimes returning, most times not. It’s the representation of Barnes trying to hold things together. The inner demons are starting to surface and it’s becoming increasingly difficult (for us as listeners) to parse out where reality ends and the character begins. Skeletal Lamping was an album that had great parts of songs, and Barnes’ genius lies in stringing them all together. The divisions of these songs-within-songs were sometimes more jarring than others. The rift between Barnes himself and Georgie Fruit was beginning to show itself throughout the songs rather than in between them, and the alter ego Barnes had created for himself was being used to hide from reality.

Then False Priest comes along. It’s a pop-funk album. There is no longer a division; this is 100% Georgie Fruit. Just as Barnes said, Georgie used to be in a funk band. False Priest was that funk band. It was pure theater. We were no longer listening to of Montreal: we were listening to a band within a band, a character within the man.

This becomes quite obvious when one stops to consider that the titles for False Priest and Skeletal Lamping, as well as EP thecontrollersphere, are taken directly from a lyric from “Faberge Falls for Shuggie” – a song that comes after “The Past is a Grotesque Animal,” after that first rift. thecontrollersphere, I remarked when it came out, contains bits that sound as if Kevin is physically tearing himself apart, and “Flunkt Sass vs. The Root Plume” takes its sonic cues directly from Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust. One of the more startling elements of this track is that, for the first time in the latter part of of Montreal’s catalog, Barnes is singing single tracked with little in the way of effects on his voice. He sounds as if he’s screaming for his life while re-entering the atmosphere without a suit. It’s his primal scream, something that can be heard throughout the entirety of Paralytic Stalks. The skillfully double tracked vocals that were omnipresent on earlier of Montreal recordings are now utilized sparingly, and only for special effect. More noticeable are the moments when Barnes screams out until his voice starts to break, providing this batch of songs with an emotional forthrightness and unabashed honesty. The lyrics are not simply more personal, but the songs find him connecting these ideas with the listener with no filter.

That trend of clarity and directness continues on this album, that, in typical of Montreal fashion, is obscurely named. There is no more hiding behind the irony of song structures that contradict the lyrical content, like the dance-y, upbeat “Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse” from Hissing Fauna…: a song about a crippling depression and Barnes’ pleading with his own body and medications to not fail him. He sings “I’m in a crisis, I need help, come on mood shift, shift back to good again, come on be a friend. Come on, chemicals!”, underpinned all the while by some of the most cheerful music on that album. Musically, it’s saccharine sweet, rich with synth hooks and a quick tempo.

That type of contextual dissonance is no longer present on Paralytic Stalks. Not only are the lyrics in the first person, but so is the music. The lyrics here are represented in direct correlation with the music, and the music is recorded in such a way that it puts the minimum amount of distance between the song and the listener.

The piano sound in “Authentic Pyrrhic Remission,” as an example, is recorded such that we can hear the room. The listener is placed directly in the presence of Barnes as he speaks to us, giving an unprecedented amount of weight to his words. Every punch connects. By this point Barnes has managed to completely strip away any sense of pretense, and has come out from behind his curtain, which stands in opposition to the heavily effected synth tones that have been occupying many of of Montreal’s previous recordings. Instead of using the recording process as a smokescreen where everything is manipulated, synthesized and recorded directly to the board, much of this album manages instead to connect directly with the listener. Barnes obviously learned quite a bit by working with Jon Brion. The sound of timpani at the opening of “Dour Percentage” is taken directly from the False Priest sessions.

Many of the lyrics on Paralytic Stalks are more relatable than usual. The opening of “Spiteful Intervention” jumps in with raw emotion and trepidation with the line “It’s fucking sad that we need a tragedy to gain a fresh perspective on our lives.” It truly feels like Barnes is including us as listeners. He is no longer speaking from a distance about himself or another party that we are not privy to as listeners. We have been brought into the fold and welcomed.

That personal forthrightness goes even further later in the song when he states “I spent my waking hours haunting my own life / I made the one I love start crying tonight and it felt good / still there must be a more elegant solution.” Though the opening of the lyric is honestly and painfully sung in a loud, trembling yell with a tenuous grasp on pitch, there is still that sense of reaching out to do more. Barnes is realizing the consequences of his actions and his feelings. The lyric doesn’t point to his being a self-obsessed animal, but the complete thought points to his willingness to change: the theme and process behind the past few releases.

Barnes, in recent interviews about what to expect from his latest album had this to say: “I don’t want to become a caricature of Georgie Fruit…I want to keep growing as an artist.” (source) This statement signals Barnes’ intentions to change everything in his musical process from the ground up. His art is a reflection of his life. Personal problems are being faced head on; Barnes is not shielding himself. There are attempts to change things, attempts to brighten up the band’s sound and turn the darkness in on itself. Paralytic Stalks is the sound of facing the things that made him turn inward.

The pedal steel has an uncanny ability to sound like a sunrise, and when it is used in “Wintered Debts,” it has exactly that effect. Its use, combined with the shift in piano style throughout the album, is more playfully reminiscent of Tin Pan Alley song pluggers of the early 20th century. “Malefic Dowery” is made gentler with the addition of that piano, and a delicate arrangement of woodwinds.

That characteristic of change has always existed on of Montreal records. It’s an unwillingness to settle for a certain sound, or a certain instrumental configuration to define them. Paralytic Stalks features woodwinds, strings, and some auxiliary percussion, in addition to the tradition rock band set up. of Montreal has always augmented that sound with two basses, with great effect, as is the case of the intricate bass-lines in “Authentic Pyrrhic Remission.” Those bass-lines can now be seen through the lens of psych-funk, like on False Priest. of Montreal isn’t bound, musically, by any outside conventions. This is a band that seeks only to evolve from album to album, and Paralytic Stalks they prove that they do that better than any other band working today.

“Ye, Renew the Plaintiff” drops a beat around the minute mark, another instance of the track tearing itself apart. After that disorienting rhythmic shift, a pulsating, straightforward rumination on only a few chords begins, and Barnes can’t help himself from shouting “How can I defend myself against this world?” and “I’m desperate for something but there’s no human word for it / I should be happy but what I feel is corrupted, broken, impotent and insane!” From there, the confessions continue rolling out, easily, effortlessly as if the dam has finally been breached and Barnes is helpless to cease the flow of confession. “I’ve become so hateful, how am I ever going to survive this winter / I can think of nothing but getting my revenge, / make those fuckers pay / but it’s not gonna happen and it’s eating a hole in me!” With that, Barnes is screaming at the top of his lungs through an increasingly wild guitar solo.

With “Exorcismic Breeding Knife” something out of the ordinary happens. Instead of everything being pulled apart, gradually or otherwise, the song starts in utter chaos and remains there throughout the majority of its seven-plus minutes. Toward the conclusion of the song, the chaotic elements come together in a beautifully resolute major chord that emerges from a cloud, at first with a suspension, and is then resolved.

Following this track is the album closer, “Authentic Pyrrhic Remission.” It starts off as the most straightforward track on the album, let alone the past several of Montreal albums. The intricately woven, multi-tracked bass-line is present; there are sweet harmonies, a danceable beat and an ultra catchy melody. It’s not until the lyric, “every time I listen to my heart I just get hurt” where nearly every instrument drops out of the mix completely, and things begin to descend once again into utter bedlam. Both the song and album close with the gentle sound of a reverb laden piano and Kevin’s solitary voice stating the most startling confessional revelation yet: “Til this afternoon I was an exile, but now that word is obsolete. There are no nations, no concept of ego. Our illumination is complete.”

With that, Barnes manages to sum up all the concepts he’s brought up since “The Past Is A Grotesque Animal” on Hissing Fauna, Are you the Destroyer? That closing line manages to not only find Barnes at peace with his now exorcised inner demons, but simultaneously lets the listener know that we have traveled this path with him, and we have grown together through the journey.

Paralytic Stalks is, in certain ways, similar to many other of Montreal albums. Throughout it, we can never be certain which direction we’ll be traveling next. Upon its conclusion, however, we’re left with a mixture of closure and expectation.

[audio:http://quartertonality.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/03-of-Montreal-Dour-Percentage.mp3|titles=Dour Percentage]

Beginning today Paralytic Stalks is available for streaming on Rdio and Spotify so head on over to those sites and check out the entire album and then head over to Polyvinyl and order one for yourself! There are still some of the limited edition Fuchsia 180g records left, hurry!