Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Midday Show host Cheryl Waters, is “An Eluardian Instance” by Of Montreal from the 2008 album Skeletal Lamping on Polyvinyl Records.
Though different in style and sound, Kevin Barnes could be this generation’s Perry Farrell — extravagant, flashy and driven. His band, Of Montreal, is at the peak of their game and they have him to thank. When you scratch the surface, their music sounds like simple pop with songs about partying, ninjas and love. Who doesn’t love songs about ninjas?! However Barnes has survived the band’s own struggles and sacrifices along the way, blogging about each experience and tour date for music lovers and critics alike. Through bouts of depression and waves of emotional suppression, doubt and remorse, Barnes continuously takes us to new levels of beautiful revelation and enjoyment in his songwriting and poetry. Barnes is a constant narrator within each album, often choosing to tell a story through characters or sometimes just baring his own personal life for his listeners. Like their front man, the members within Of Montreal continually forage for a more fluid connection with their instruments and meld a sound that is both stronger and more focused with each album, whether they be exploring Elephant Six pyschedelia, whimsically lo-fi twee, or glam-inspired electronica.
Barely taking time off to breathe in between touring and recording, Of Montreal has released nine albums within ten years: Cheery Peel (1997), The Bedside Drama: A Petite Tragedy (1999), The Gay Parade (1999), Coquelicot Asleep in the Poopies: A Variety of Whimsical Verse (2001), Aldhils Arboretum (2002), Satanic Panic In The Attic (2004), The Sunlandic Twins (2005), Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer (2007) and Skeletal Lamping (2008). And that doesn’t count the EPs scattered between. Their most recent release, Skeletal Lamping, is brooding and dark. Barnes takes a note from bands like Yeasayer and Animal Collective and tests out rattlesnake shimmers and layered backgrounds of haunting female voices patterned out over lush and delicate rhythms that shift and change shape with each mood the band decides to explore. As if the music itself was not enough of an artistic expression, the album was released in ten different formats for their purchasing audience to enjoy: CD, vinyl, t-shirts, button sets, wall decals, tote bags and a paper lantern. (By the way, if you’re having difficulty assembling the elaborate packaging of Skeletal Lamping, be sure to check out this instructional video.) Of Montreal is a band who truly understands that even though times might be tough, you can always trust fans to still want to display your colors proudly. Understandably so, since their live show is as unique as a snowflake during a winter snow storm. Sometimes they are decked out in shaving cream and popping out of coffins, other times the band dons costumes so ornate and obscure one would think they either escaped the circus or raided Bjorks’ closet.
Of Montreal is about to embark on a tour of Australia before returning to the eastern seaboard of the U.S. Check their website and MySpace page for updates. For now, here’s the official video for today’s Song of the Day: