Some bands write songs with lyrics that evoke raw emotion and tell stories that cause extreme connection between the musicians and listener, and other groups play music characterized by a contagious beat and pleasantly mind numbing flow.
Of Montreal possesses the unique ability blend both approaches, allowing listeners to follow and empathize with the stories of the musicians, but with beats so catchy, it’s impossible not to tap a foot. Tonight at The Lyric, the band from Athens, Georgia, will be coasting into town to demonstrate. Even the band’s name reflects the group’s quirky and honest style through its alleged inspiration from the aftermath of a failed relationship between the band’s creator, Kevin Barnes, and a woman from Montreal. The group started out as part The Elephant Six Recording Company, a label that spurred on popularity of several other 90’s indie groups, such as Elf Power, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Apples in the Stereo, Belulah, The Olivia Tremor Control, and Circulatory System. Of Montreal is currently with Polyvinyl Records.
Never the band to fall into a rut of similar sounding albums, Of Montreal is truly a group of artists who constantly experiment in different mediums. The band has experienced remarkable evolution over the past twenty years both in band dynamic and sound. In 1996, Kevin Barnes was first inspired to create exhilarating indie pop music. He decided to start a band with this mission in mind. After a season void of success, Barnes moved to Athens, Georgia, where he met bassist Bryan Helium and drummer Derek Almstead. The band’s debut album “Cherry Peel” was released in 1997, shortly followed by the album “The Bird That Continues to Eat the Rabbit’s Flower”. The band’s exhibited uninhibited spirit and unique flavor became apparent even in these early albums.
In 2003, Barnes’ marriage led to a very transitional year for the band. Nina, Barnes’ then wife, joined the lineup and together the band produced the popular album “Satanic Panic in the Attic”. Of Montreal then began to display a more energetic and highly synthesized sound in the album “Sunlandic Kids”, which was released the following year. Shortly after, Nina and Kevin moved to Norway for the birth of their first child. After Barnes’ return to The States and a period of personal struggle, the band produced its most intense album, “Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?”, The raw emotion and sinister word choice provided by this album proved to be a turning point toward more meaningful lyrics.
A year later, the band turned out the album “Skeletal Lamping” followed by “False Priest”, which both introduce Of Montreal’s current and thriving fling with funk. Well-known genre chameleons Janelle Monáe and Solange Knowles also contributed to the unique sound found in False Priest. In 2013, the album Lousy with Sylvanbriar flirted with rock roots influenced by Neil Young of the Rolling Stones. About this time, Barnes separated from his wife of 10 years and started pouring his time and energy into his passion. After touring heavily in 2014, Barnes spent a time writing lyrics in New York City.” 2015 has brought the group release of two new albums, “Aureate Gloom” and “Snare Lustrous Doomings”. The current set of Of Montreal includes Clayton Rychlik on drums, percussion, clarinet, and vocals, Jojo Glidewell on keys and synth, Bob Parins on bass and clarinet, Benett Lewis on guitar, Kishi Bashi on strings and vocals, and of course, the illustrious lead vocalist Kevin Barnes.
Not only do residents of Oxfords wait expectantly to see Of Montreal live, the band is attracting fans from all across Mississippi. Long time Of Montreal enthusiast Amelia Brunson and friend Perrin Noble plan on making the trek from Jackson to see Of Montreal play. Brunson last saw Of Montreal while she was a student at school at Ole Miss in 2010 and looks forward to her next encounter with the band. “It (their show) has a euphoric fun festival feel, that’s pleasing to all of the senses. Bright colors, funky, unique music, incredible visuals and impressive costumes make for a musical circus of sorts,” Brunson recalls of her experience. “The dance floor was alive throughout the entire show as the crowd fed off the musical energy. I’m so glad Of Montreal has decided to grace Oxford’s Lyric again, and I can’t wait to make new memories!”