All Star

by Alex Hern

Yeah, so it’s probably still too early to start thinking about the end of the year.
But I’m bored.
And there have been a lot of albums out last year.
Some of them have even been quite good.
And I know that lists are crass, attention seeking, and content free.
Which is why I’m not going to write one quite yet.
I’m just going to go through some of the best albums out this year.
These are albums that should be considered for anyone’s top list.
Like the Mercury Prize, but without the British requirement.
Or the cash prize.
Or the reasoned judgment.
Not that I’m selling myself short or anything.

First is an easy one. Of Montreal, with Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
Of Montreal are fast making a name for themselves as, well, a band that defy categorization. Which makes it quite hard to write about them, really. Music journalists tend to like a formula which involves assigning a genre, picking other artists who are similar, and then writing some flowery prose about emotion or suchlike.
The closest genre to Of Montreal is probably prog rock; they share many things with the 70s weirdos, such as a love of long songs, obtuse titles, odd keys and general messing about with the structure of music. Of course, many genres throughout the ages have gone with those ideas – by that descripition, there is no difference between Math and Prog Rock, even though the two are pretty fucking different. And its probably safe to say that Of Montreal are neither, unless one wants to start a long comment thread…
To assign similar bands, one would usually begin looking around for influences. Label mates include The Apples in Stereo, and Neutral Milk Hotel, and while its true that they all share the same spirit of musical adventure (The Apples in Stereo invented a new scale for their latest album), its difficult to see much similarity between the Apples in Stereo’s Beatlesesque Energy and, say, Of Montreal’s best known song, Wraith Pinned to the Mist (and other Games).
That song is the reason I first heard Of Montreal. In fact, I only bought Hissing Fauna by mistake; I meant to buy 2004’s The Sunlandic Twins, to have my own copy of it. But it was a mistake that soon payed off. The entire album is filled with gems equal in both catchiness and long term appeal, with standout tracks being, in my opinion, the three consecutive songs Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse, Gronlandic Edit, and A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger. See what I mean about obtuse titles?

Regardless, Hissing Fauna is a worthy introduction to one of the best American bands to have remained underground, probably for longer than they deserved to, and its follow up should be coming out some time in 2008.

Of Montreal – Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse [MP3 Removed]

Of Montreal – Wraith Pinned to the Mist (and other Games) [MP3 Removed]