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Alternative & Indie - Released June 22, 2018 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 9, 2018 | Polyvinyl Records

Of Montreal's 15th studio LP, White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood follows an eclectic but synth-friendly album, Innocence Reaches, by nearly two years. Before that, 2015's Aureate Gloom took musical influence from '70s New York punk. Project leader Kevin Barnes continues a sudden but enthusiastic trend toward more synths here, on an album that was inspired by the '80s phenomenon of releasing extended dance mixes of pop singles, which one would only hear played in clubs. In a statement about the record, Barnes explained that he used the same drum sample packs across tracks to get a consistent and characteristic sound. While he also continues to abandon a practice of recording with a live band -- one that may have ended with Aureate Gloom -- he is joined on the album by some key long-distance contributors. Zac Colwell (woodwinds, synths, percussion) is a former collaborator whose judiciously placed saxophone reinforces the '80s effect here, and touring bandmembers JoJo Glidewell (synths, keys) and Clayton Rychlik (drums) have been part of Of Montreal's recording core for much of the 2010s. Still, as Barnes is often wont to do, White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood doesn't sound quite like anything they've done prior, once one looks beyond its distinctively serpentine quality and Barnes' calling-card loquaciousness. With reference to the latter, the album presents six over-five-minute-long dance-funk tracks with titles like "Paranoiac Intervals/Body Dysmorphia" and "Plateau Phase/No Careerism No Corruption." Lyrics grapple with sociopolitical and societal topics like intersectionality, gentrification, and online-only encounters -- to name a few from the slinky opening track alone -- as well as sex, drugs, and music. On "Plateau," he makes hip-grinding choruses out of neurotic lines like "If we put our ear to the ceiling/We can hear the multiverse seeding/We can hear the simulation wheezing...." Accompanying arrangements are generally dense but melodic, often capturing a certain basement-club je ne sais quoi. Taken together, White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood offers convoluted yet catchy dance-rock that lures with flamboyant basslines while reflecting a dancing-while-anxious Zeitgeist. © Marcy Donelson /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 22, 2016 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 16, 2015 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 21, 2015 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 20, 2014 | Polyvinyl Records

The debut EP by the Kentucky trio White Reaper is a bracing blast of garage punk bubblegum that hits the sweet spot between grungy garage rock guitar noise and handclapping pop, and ends up sounding like Nobunny on steroids or a more together version of most of the bands on Burger Records. It kicks off with "Cool," an impossibly catchy, midtempo, perfect-world hit single that's the kind of song you want to replay four or five times before moving on to the next. Skipping ahead is a good idea, because the rest of the too-brief EP is almost as good, if a little more raucous and unhinged-sounding. On the far side of the noise/pop equation from "Cool," the fuzz-powered "Conspirator" sounds like a teenage punk take on Mudhoney as they pummel their instruments Tony Esposito's vocal breathlessly yelps out the chorus. Throughout the record, the lads balance energy and melody like plate spinners, keeping everything aloft and rotating like mad. It's an impressive debut that has at least two songs most garage punkers would give their favorite, tattered denim jacket to have in their repertoire. Hopefully, they won't lose the white-hot spark that fuels them on future records, but even if they do they'll be able to look back on this EP in their golden years and know that once upon a time, they really and truly rocked. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 21, 2014 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 22, 2010 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 18, 2010 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 3, 2009 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 13, 2009 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 18, 2009 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 27, 2009 | Polyvinyl Records

Four songs of indie rock with out-of-place pseudo-British vocals are laid down for Paris, Texas' contribution to the Polyvinyl single series. While the music is played competently, the lyrics seem somewhat adolescent and nothing entirely original seems to come through on any level. Rather, the band seems to be a poor man's version of indie pop sweethearts Lync, or an honorable mention in the contest of who will replace Braid as Polyvinyl's big draw. The ideas are there, they just haven't been planted with the seed of individuality to show that Paris, Texas is worth anyone's time or money, considering the dozens of artists playing material generally along these same lines. © Kurt Morris /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 27, 2009 | Polyvinyl Records

Following a rather nondescript second album, Wisconsin's Paris, Texas returned with this five-song EP and a new guitar player, Nolan Treolo, to replace the departed Matt Mangan. The problem with the previous effort, though, was not the guitar playing, it was in the songwriting. The band seemed caught halfway between a conventional indie rock mode and more experimental post-rock noodling, and singer Scott Sharpe couldn't figure out if he was a punk singer or Lou Reed disciple long enough to stay in tune. The playing itself was pretty interesting. The guitars scraped out some lovely, angular chords, and Matt Tennessen's bass work was propulsive (though not as endlessly intriguing as it is in Pele), but the songs simply were not there. That would have been fine if the noise itself was Paris, Texas' object, but they clearly meant to convey punk-pop melodies, and those melodies lacked any sort of distinctiveness. Whether it is a result of the slightly altered lineup or simply maturation, Brazilliant is a dramatic rejuvenation of their previous sound. The band have astutely moved Tennessen's amazing, bulbous bass to the forefront until it is almost the lead melodic instrument, leaving the discordant guitars to scratch out texture, and dropping Sharpe's vocals beneath the fray where they can be more effective as another instrument rather than as a focal point. Although the album title implies bossa nova or some other melodically sunny form of exotica, the album still features intense rock music that is informed by the punk aesthetic with, interestingly enough, a bit of classic arena rock thrown in. The songwriting is honed considerably as well, the pop-style melodies exchanged for more open-ended song structures that suit the band's strengths. The songs are still not wholly satisfying, but they are improved. And it may not yet be brilliant, but Brazilliant is a strong step in the right direction. © Stanton Swihart /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 5, 2009 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 15, 2008 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 15, 2008 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 24, 2007 | Polyvinyl Records

Following the 2000 release of Brazilliant comes the second EP from Paris, Texas, Action Fans Help Us! This five-song juggernaut finds the Wisconsin five-piece at its best, and fans will be pleased with the band's solid, non-emo sound. It's raw rock & roll, punchy in spots, but heavy-hitting all the way. The title track bounces with the twin guitar work of Nick Zinkgraf and Nolan Treolo, while frontman Scott Sherpe's angst-y frenetic vocals are equally powerful. "Your Death" isn't as grim as it sounds, nor is "One Hot Coma," but the initial setup of Action Fans Help Us! clues listeners in to Paris, Texas' slick work in progress. Listeners merely got a taste of it on Brazilliant, and unfortunately this mini-album isn't long enough to tie fans over until the next full-length. In the meantime, Action Fans Help Us! will have to do. © MacKenzie Wilson /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 24, 2007 | Polyvinyl Records

The Cold Colors EP was released by Polyvinyl, but based on its experimental leanings, it sounds like Saturday Looks Good to Me is ready to make the leap to K Records. Instead of the band's expected so-retro-it's-modern indie pop, the delicate acoustic guitars and found sounds on "Illuminated Circles Dream of Backwards Running Vampires" and the title track have more in common with the free-floating symphonic folk of K alums the Microphones. Most of Cold Colors was recorded in Portland, OR, and the EP has a chilly, pastoral feel that sounds like late winter melting into early spring. It also sounds far more like Fred Thomas' solo albums than any of Saturday Looks Good to Me's previous work, especially on "Drink My Blood," which pairs ink and blood imagery with a singalong melody. That gift for melodies that sound instantly familiar shines throughout Cold Colors, and especially brightly on "Idiots"' sneering hooks. The EP ends with its most ambitious song, "Spiderbite": recorded at Warn Defever's Brown Rice studio, it moves from moody chamber folk to droning guitars and sound effects to a final percussive workout. Cold Colors might be one of Saturday Looks Good to Me's most subtle and subdued works, but it shows that Fred Thomas and crew are just as good at crafting haunting moods as they are with bright, winsome pop. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 8, 2007 | Polyvinyl Records

If you thought Kevin Barnes laid his soul out on the table for Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, wait till you get a hold of that album's companion EP, Icons, Abstract Thee. This five-track release collects songs from the Hissing sessions that didn't make it onto the full-length (vinyl-only bonus cuts, MySpace downloads, and other orphans) and offers them up like addenda to the epic breakup saga chronicled on the former album. Where Hissing succeeded in cloaking most of the hurt in metaphor, Icons relates the rest of the story with bald-faced frankness. From a heartfelt apology to his baby daughter ("Miss Blonde Your Papa Is Failing") to the suicidal broodings of "No Conclusion," the disintegration of Barnes' marriage takes the center stage again -- with the same bouncy, overblown, and jubilant songcrafting that tricked you into thinking Hissing was a "feel-good" album the first time you spun it. Lyrically dark, brooding, and self-defeating, Icons is anything but (as far as the music itself is concerned). Shut out the gloomy diary entries, and the EP shines as a catchy, summery, effervescent, day-driving soundtrack -- full of DAW trickery and loopy fun -- but if you follow along with the lyric sheet in hand, be prepared to feel a little tinge of guilt for snooping around in someone else's journal. © J. Scott McClintock /TiVo