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Weird Owl; Of Montreal; Nirvana

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Weird Owl

Healing

(A Recordings)

Though it consists of only five tracks, this third album from a quartet of Brooklyn-based psychedelic rockers is an expansive journey into far-off musical territories. Opening cut “Change Your Mind” features singer Trevor Tyrrell shouting from what sounds like a distant mountaintop, urging listeners to heed him “while there is time,” over distorted electric guitar and intermittent synthesizer. “Stars on a Coffin Lid” employs more synths over Tyrrell’s still-distant vocals, but this time his tone is more chiding, citing fame as no excuse for not watching “the planets spin.” If such lyrics sound a little hazy, well, the music only adds to the experience, often swirling a multitude of sounds into an acid-drenched soundtrack. Those susceptible to overstimulation may feel overwhelmed at times, but headphone junkies will find much to appreciate, especially on the falsetto- and chime-filled title number and the too-short interlude “Master of the Mysteries.”

Of Montreal

Lousy with Sylvianbriar

(Polyvinyl)

 

Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes, after a stint in San Francisco, headed back to Athens, Georgia to assemble a new cast of musicians to create this record. There’s a lush, decidedly ’70s production quality, replete with layered background vocals, lap steel and keyboards, and it’s worth noting that Barnes didn’t create that feel with digital imitation; the record was recorded at Barnes’ home studio with a 24-track tape machine, the kind of recording that created such soundscapes the first time around. The musical setting cast into relief Barnes’ sometimes Lou Reed-esque vocal timbre, with which he presides over a wobbly, exuberant retro pop driven by guitar riffs. The conversational lyrics wander a landscape that’s often bleak, talking about things like addiction, suicide and school shootings, content that spars effectively with the music. In one pleasant string- and harmony-filled tune, he offers, “Misapprehension are killing you/ but not fast enough to really matter.”

Nirvana

In Utero 20th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition

(Geffen)

 

Much like the re-release of the band’s seminal 1991 Nevermind, this reissue of Nirvana’s final studio album is stocked with riches. The Super Deluxe Edition features a remastered version of the original record, previously unreleased demos, and a recording of the group’s “Live and Loud” concert from December 13, 1993. For hardcore fans the real focus may be the two unheard instrumentals “Forgotten Tune” and “Jam.” Though highly hyped, each cut is ragged and unfinished, begging the thought that the bottom of Kurt Cobain and company’s alt-rock barrel might have finally been reached. The real prizes are outtakes of album cuts, like a more R.E.M.-influenced take on “All Apologies,” and drummer Dave Grohl’s first solo rendering of the B-side “Marigold.” Nirvana would never get to realize the potential shown by such drastically different versions, but now listeners can rejoice in the group’s defiant last gasp.

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