Tag Archive | "Of Montreal"

Documentary Special

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Documentary Special

Posted on 06 March 2013 by Dorian

We appear to be in the midst of a bit of a golden age for music documentary, with films about interesting and surprising subjects coming out or being announced with increasing regularity. The reduced cost of making films in the digital age and the new crowd sourced methods of getting funding make creating a film about a relatively obscure artist achievable without the need for cinema showings or guaranteed DVD sales to support the endeavor.

Last year was a good year for the music documentary at both ends of the success and attention spectrum. At the top end was the Oscar winning ‘Searching For Sugarman’ which took an artists that was both obscure and hugely famous (depending on where you live) and coupled it with a fascinating story to great effect. Also notable was the epic homage to George Harrison, ‘Living In The Material World’, that was perhaps too comprehensive but was certainly a labour of love for Martin Scorsese.

TV has been another good source with BBC4 and Sky Arts leading the way in showing interesting and well produced documentary films on a wide range of artists. Sky Arts tends to show archive films but the BBC have made and shown excellent films on the likes of Squeeze, The Kinks and a surprisingly in-depth look at the work of Chas and Dave. They also have a film about David Bowie in the pipeline which features world renowned Bowieologist Nicholas Pegg in a consultant role.

Lawrence of Belgravia

Lawrence of Belgravia

Last year saw two of British music’s greatest curmudgeons celebrated in film, Felt/Denim/Go-Kart Mozart main-man Laurence and former Auteur Luke Haines.

‘Laurence of Belgravia’ was perhaps the better film and showed Laurence as an increasingly delusional figure, clinging on to concepts of stardom that  would never come, although it is all wrapped up in a self-perpetuated myth by the artist himself. (You can watch a trailer for the film here).

‘Art Will Save The World’ shows Luke Haines as a figure who is increasingly affable and comfortable with his place in modern music. At odds with his (again self-perpetuated) image as the most evil man in Brit-pop it sees him moving towards becoming something of a national treasure. It is perhaps best viewed as a companion piece to his excellent memoir, ‘Bad Vibes’. (You can watch a trailer for the film here).

Pitchfork has also entered the music documentary arena  and done some sterling work as part of their Pitchfork Classic series of films. These films are similar in concept to the 331/3 series of books focusing on a single album by the band in question whilst offering up some biographical details about them. These films to date have been of a very high quality and managed to get all the principle players interviewed for the films and included some excellent archive footage. Best of all is the recent film about Belle and Sebastian’s If You’re Feeling Sinister, and managed to make a brilliant record seem even better. (You can watch the whole of the film on the Pitchfork TV site here).

The Sad and Beautiful world of Sparklehorse

The Sad and Beautiful world of Sparklehorse

Below I preview four films scheduled for release, or in development, most of which have been made possible by crowd funding (the pros and cons of which I will not discuss here, although it is much debated).

‘The Sad and Beautiful World of Sparklehorse’ is a film about the music of the late Mark Linkous, one of my favourite recording artists. The UK interview filming has been completed and the producers are currently trying to raise funds for interviews in the US and Europe on this crowd-funding website. I have mixed hopes for this film based on the interviews captured to date, with some like-minded musicians such as Jonathan Donahue and Ed Harcourt included as talking heads. More worrying is the appearance of TVs Matthew Wright in the film, he may be a big fan but this doesn’t add credibility.  Hopefully the remaining interviews will include collaborators like David Lowery, Dangermouse and PJ Harvey and the archive footage could be what lifts this film.

‘Song Dynasties’ has already managed to get full funding through Kickstarter and looks set to bring out the story of Kevin Barne’s Of Montreal on DVD later this year. The film has been put together from hundreds of hours of footage from throughout the band’s career and has been 16 years in the making. If it is anything like as entertaining as Of Montreal are live on stage then it will be captivating viewing. (You can read more about the project and watch a trailer for the film here).

In February we posted a review of a little-known (in this country at least) album by the South African punk band National Wake.  We now have an opportunity to find out more about the African punk scene thanks to the forthcoming release of ‘Punk In Africa’, a film made by Deon Maas and Keith Jones in South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia and Kenya. (No UK showings of the film are currently scheduled but more details about the film and some footage can be found here).

Best of all is ‘Are We Not Men?’, a film about Devo. And  if you watch the trailer (above) you’ll see what an exciting film it looks to be. Devo were colourful, subversive, different and had some ideology to support the ideas in their songs. The perfect subject for a documentary film and one that should appeal to those unfamiliar with the band as well as their fans. The film was made possible by a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $70,000 and is scheduled for a release in August this year.

If you have any favourite music documentary films, or know of any interesting projects in production, please post a comment below.

By Dorian Rogers

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Record Store Day Reviewed

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Record Store Day Reviewed

Posted on 17 April 2011 by Dorian

Heading down to Brighton’s Resident Records at 7.15am I was shocked to see that the queue already stretched to the end of the street. This was a pretty clear guarantee that any items I was interested in would sell out before I got there, so I headed a few streets away to join the long (but significantly smaller) queue to Rounder Records.

Somewhere around 9.20 I entered the shop, and around 15 minutes later I was at the till. By this time a number of the ticked items on my list had already sold out, but I did manage to pick up four of the records I had selected. Now, one quick whinge. Record Store Day is a celebration of the record shop, but also of the record shop customer, so would it have killed the record labels to make the items a little bit cheaper? I know that the items are limited, but the cost of most of them was almost double what you would expect to pay for a similar record normally stocked in the shop. The Flaming Lips box-set was a nice package, and contained their five best albums, but was an eye watering £99. But hey, I guess that nobody is forced to buy anything.

So, on to the records. Here is my first-impressions review of the three singles and one CD EP that I picked up on the day.

Broken Bells – Meyrin Fields EP

The Broken Bells album was one of the best albums of 2010 and Brian ‘Dangermouse’ Burton seems to have developed one of his many excellent partnerships with The Shin’s James Mercer.

The Meyrin Fields EP is an evolution of the sound found on the album. Nothing radically different but the emphasis here has shifted a little and the tracks have more of the electronics, bleeps and sounds that you would associate with Dangermouse, and less of the melodic guitar pop you’d expect from the Shins frontman. This is particularly true of the title track and ‘Windows’ both of which sound like Broken Bells but wouldn’t have fitted in neatly on the album. ‘An Easy Life’ moves back to the more familiar sound and features some strings and effects that recall ELO. ‘Heartless Empire’ mixes cheap keyboard sounds with Jesus and Mary Chain guitar and is probably the song with most in common with the Shins.

In all an interesting and intriguing set of songs which we can only hope is a teaser for another full album lateer in the year.

Radiohead – Supercollider/The Butcher

Just a couple of months after the surprise release of The King Of Limbs Radiohead deliver two new songs ‘Supercollider’ and ‘The Butcher’ as an exclusive 12″ single.

It is no surprise to report that the band haven’t decided to go back to The Bends’ style indie guitar pop for this release, it is very much a counterpart to The King Of Limbs. ‘Supercollider’  is a long mellow track that will be familiar to anyone who has seen the band live at recent concerts, although it was new to me. It is track with precious little drama but as an exercise in atmospheric mood music it is very well executed. ‘The Butcher’ is more interesting with some doom laden piano and echoed funky drumming be the main backing to Thom Yorke’s typically ethereal vocals.

Not a release that will convert any listeners who have tired of the current Radiohead sound, but a couple of tracks that fans of The King of Limbs will love.

Of Montreal

Of Montreal

Of Montreal/Casiokids – Expecting To Fly/London Zoo

I’m not familiar with Casiokids, but I picked this up as I’ll buy anything that the great Kevin Barnes (AKA Of Montreal) releases.

‘Expecting To Fly’ is a production heavy version of the Buffallo Springfield song featuring just piano and some multi-tracked vocals. It would probably be a big disappointment to someone wanting the more histrionic Prince influenced Barnes as featured on his last couple of albums, but is is actually a very effecting performance and makes me wish that Barnes would do an album of more low key tracks to showcase that side of his personality.

‘London Zoo’ starts with a dour organ sound and some synth trumpet before a range of instrumental sounds and some sprightly drum machine kick in. The vocals are high pitched and the (presumably) Norwegian lyrics make it impossible for me to identify the songs meaning, which initially sets up a barrier for me. However, it is a really interesting building sound with a nice bass groove running throughout. Certainly enough for me to give the bands album a try.

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues/Battery Kinzie

I like the Fleet Foxes and their debut album is a joy, and one of those rare albums that everyone seems to like, but this is one of the weakest Record Store day releases. Not on a musical level but as an artifact. It features two songs that will both be on their much anticipated second album one of which is  freely available already and the other has received radio play (and the subsequent illicit distribution). So in terms of exclusivity it is pretty weak, and at £7.99 it is quite an expensive promo. However, I got carried away, and a little flustered in the queue, and I only have myself to blame.

The songs themselves are good if unexceptional and lack the impact that the band had when they first appeared. It is inevitable that second time around the band is going to sound more familiar and it means that they have to raise their game more than is on evidence here. ‘Helplessness Blues’ is nice enough but the vocals seem less haunting and the melodies less inspired than on their debut. ‘Battery Kinzie’ is a more upbeat piano lead effort that brings Simon and Garfunkle to mind, it is an enjoyable few minutes and shows that the band want to try something more than just emulate their first album.

By Dorian Rogers

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Of Montreal: Koko, London, 6 Oct, 2010

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Of Montreal: Koko, London, 6 Oct, 2010

Posted on 07 October 2010 by Joe

I had not seen of Montreal live before and the response from many friends when I told them I was seeing them live was “Who?” As a result I was quite surprised to find Koko pretty full with a crowd who knew all the words to all the songs.

I had heard that Of Montreal put on an interesting show. These rumours were proved true as the projector started up, displaying some rather weird film of toys, retro computer images and treated footage of the crowd. The seven piece band came on stage with painted white faces, then frontman Kevin Barnes bounded on wearing a purple bandana and a truly horrible patterned jacket.

Throughout the show Barnes was menaced by a number of strange creatures making me feel slightly like I was watching Peter Davison era Doctor Who. During the opening number there was a large prawn like monster armed with two machine guns shooting the crowd (NB- they weren’t real machine guns).

Of Montreal

The bulk of the set was made up from their new album “False Priest” and from 2007’s “Hissing Fauna, are you the Destroyer”. Barnes is an entertaining frontman spinning around, pogoing and during “Bunny Ain’t no Kind of Rider” he was chased around the stage by two scary silver dancers with blank faces and wings.

The band were very tight with special mention to the drummer- there was a section when the whole band were playing percussion, which sounded quite heavy but was pretty hypnotic. During “She’s a Rejector” there was a guy onstage trying to escape from a straightjacket (he managed it). The overly theatrical nature of the show could have become annoying but personally I found it very entertaining. A man in a weird chessboard costume and another with a massive orange head crowd-surfed while we grooved to the likes of “Coquet Coquette” and “Heimdalsgate like A Promethean Curse”. In contrast Barnes had changed into a rather boring grey hoodie by this point.

The encore was a monster length “The Past is a Grotesque Animal” which was amazing, the audience all very much in the zone. A great night and if you’ve not seen them before you really should.

9/10

by Barnaby Salton

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