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Of Montreal

Of Montreal performing in Athens, Georgia, on March 24, 2005
Background information
Origin Athens, Georgia, United States
Genres Synthpop, baroque pop, indie rock, neo-psychedelia, psychedelic pop, funk [1]
Years active 1996–present
Labels Polyvinyl, Kindercore, Bar/None
Kevin Barnes
Bryan Poole
Dottie Alexander
Jamey Huggins
Davey Pierce
Former members
Andy Gonzalez
Derek Almstead
Jason NeSmith
Matt Dawson
Nina Barnes
Ahmed Gallab

Of Montreal (styled as of Montreal)[2] is an American indie rock band formed in Athens, Georgia. Fronted by Kevin Barnes, it was among the second wave of groups to emerge from The Elephant 6 Recording Company.



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 the 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 Ate the Rabbit's Flower and The Bedside Drama: A Petite Tragedy.

After production on The Gay Parade began in 1998, Poole left the band to focus on his duties with Elf Power, another Elephant Six band from Athens. Barnes then recruited Jamey Huggins and Dottie Alexander, who had been performing together as Lightning Bug vs. Firefly, to play various instruments. Derek moved from drums to bass. The band was joined soon after by Marshmallow Coast's Andy Gonzales.

A number of singles and a re-release of The Bird Who Continues to Eat the Rabbit's Flower occurred before the advent 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.

Following the release of The Gay Parade, the band signed with Kindercore Records, who would release a number of singles and compilations. It wasn't until 2001 that Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies: A Variety of Whimsical Verse would be released as a new album with original material. The album again featured contributions from across the Elephant Six spectrum.

Of Montreal front figure Kevin Barnes playing in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2005

In 2002, Aldhils Arboretum was released, with a slightly different sound than its predecessors, as the songs were more directly structured. This album marks the beginning of the change in Of Montreal's sound, with more danceable rhythms than before, particularly on the album's closer, "Death Dance Of The Omipapas and Sons For You". A successful tour ensued, including the band's first trip to the UK, along with a tour-only EP.

Kindercore Records would fold shortly after the release of Arboretum, and Of Montreal's status was also threatened. Kevin got married, and Andy and Derek left the band. Barnes, uncomfortable with the unrest, as well as some divisions within the band, took to writing and performing their 2004 album Satanic Panic in the Attic mostly by himself. Released by Polyvinyl Records, it became one of their more successful efforts to that point. The album marked a shift to an electronic bass, with drum machines and synthesizers featured in singles such as "Disconnect the Dots". The tour for that album also saw The Late B.P. Helium (Bryan Poole) rejoin the band, with some bass played by Kevin's partner Nina.

This style would continue to evolve into 2005's The Sunlandic Twins, which was even more of a solo effort by Barnes. Recorded in Athens, with the exception of one track recorded in Norway, it was a much more pronounced electronic album. The album became a success, mostly due to the singles "So Begins Our Alabee" and the MTV clip for "Wraith Pinned to the Mist (and Other Games)".

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. Barnes also released a companion CD to Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? called Icons, Abstract Thee.[3] In 2007, Kevin Barnes performed five songs nude during a performance in Las Vegas.[4] In Paris, they did a Take-Away Show acoustic video session shot by Vincent Moon.

Of Montreal's next album, Skeletal Lamping, was released on October 21, 2008. It was released in ten different formats, including conventional CD and vinyl, as well as t-shirts, button sets, wall decals, tote bags, and a paper lantern, the latter formats replete with a digital download code for the album.[5] All items for the collection were designed by The Bee With Wheels (David Barnes) and Gemini Tactics (Nina Barnes). In an essay addressing the concept behind the album's release, Kevin Barnes stated, "We feel that there's no reason to produce another object that just sits on a shelf. We only want to produce objects that have a function and that can be treasured for their singularness."[6] In an interview with NPR, Kevin Barnes revealed that the concept of the CD may be going the way of the 8-track in favor of MP3 downloads. David Barnes joked that fans would buy the album via MP3 download and the version that comes with an amazing sandwich.[7] The album reached number one on emusic's Most Downloaded Albums Chart.[8] The video for the album's second single, "An Eluardian Instance", was directed by Jesse Ewles.

Currently, Of Montreal is working on its next album, tentatively titled False Priest.[9]


Of Montreal performing live at Baltimore in 2007

The group has a style that is typical of many Elephant 6 bands due to its interest in combining musical experimentation and the basic tenets of pop, such as catchy melodies and sing-along choruses. The band's style has been influenced by not only more conventional indie pop and psychedelic music, but also by vaudeville and music hall on their earlier releases and by afrobeat, funk, and krautrock in their more 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. Later the band moved to a fuller sound, as seen on the concept albums The Gay Parade and its follow-up, Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies: A Variety of Whimsical Verse. These albums contain more narrative lyrics, as opposed to the rather personal lyrical matter of those preceding it, and often imitating the style of old 1950s radio plays.

2004's Satanic Panic in the Attic marked the result of an evolving change in style. The sound shifted to something more electronic with traditional structures, to be further advanced in later albums and new songs. In their most recent releases and concerts, the band has fully embraced a sort of techno-pop glam image, with little of their previous incarnations surfacing.

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 band's 2007 album Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, the lyrics are much more personal than previously used, with songs detailing emotions within the speaker.

Another characteristic of the band is the fusion of ostensibly gloomy lyrics with bouncy, upbeat melodies and hooks. For example, the lyrical themes of songs like "Doing Nothing" and "Old People in the Cemetery" (from Aldhils Arboretum) include apathy, loneliness and death, while the instrumentation is generally upbeat. 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.

Side projects

True to the style of most Elephant Six recording artists, Of Montreal's members have been in a variety of side projects and other bands.

  • The band itself has performed as the backing band for Marshmallow Coast on record and on tour.
  • My First Keyboard was the pseudonym used by Dottie Alexander to release the song "The You I Created" on the Kindercore singles club. Of Montreal acted as her backing band.
  • Kevin Barnes did a comedy tour with his wife, Nina, and his brother, David, called "A Pollinaire Rave".
  • James Huggins released an album under the name "James Husband" which featured a cover of The Beatles' "We Can Work it Out".
  • Bryan Poole has a solo career as the Late B.P. Helium.
  • Kevin Barnes has recently been collaborating with Andrew VanWyngarden from MGMT, on a project called Blikk Fang (formerly Ocelot Fang).[10]
  • Derek Almstead has worked with many artists as a musician and engineer including his collaboration with Andy Gonzales M Coast, Elf Power, Circulatory System, and many more.
  • Kevin Barnes played keyboard in a song on Bright Eyes' album Letting Off the Happiness.
  • Ahmed Gallab has a solo career as Sinkane.
  • Davey Pierce, along with Travis Adams from the now-defunct My Hotel Year, created the band Inkwell.



External links




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