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Caden Sierra
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Hey. My name is Caden and I'm from the Chicagoland area.  I'm currently going into my 3rd year at NMU.  I'm a multimedia production major with a double minor in journalism and criminal justice. For as...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Remixed Montreal EP can’t save bad album

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Kevin Barnes hit his creative peak in Of Montreal’s tenth year with 2007’s “Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?” Last October’s “Skeletal Lamping” further increased the band’s profile but artistically it was a step backward. Barnes seemed to cram every possible idea into its 15 tracks, and the few bright spots were overshadowed by a gimmicky alter-ego and uncharacteristically contrived lyrics. Jon Brion had the courage to revisit two of “Skeletal Lamping’s” tracks, and the results are mixed; there is a revelation or two along the way, but mostly the “Remix EP” is a reminder of its source material’s shortcomings.

Brion made his name as both a songwriter and a producer, and both skill sets serve him well on the remixes. Choosing to remix “An Eluardian Instance” (Brion retitles it “First Time High”) was a wise move, as it was easily the best song on the original album. Brion offers two different versions of the song, both of which refine Barnes’ original vision. “Reconstructionist Remix of ‘An Eluardian Instance'” pares down much of the chaos that surrounded Of Montreal’s version to put the song’s glowing chorus on center stage. It’s the kind of melody Barnes can write in his sleep, but there’s no denying it’s a great hook.

“Of Chicago Acoustic Version” further transforms the song by reducing it to its barest acoustic elements without compromising the melody, a la some of Stephin Merritt’s arrangements.

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Three “Gallery Piece” remixes fill out the rest of the album. The song was a dud on “Skeletal Lamping” and, for the most part, Brion is unable to redeem it. The “JB Remix” and “Long Version” only serve to confirm the suspicion that Barnes’ Georgie Fruit experiment was a total failure. The music is solid but the vocals are obnoxious to the point of being unlistenable. The instrumental version removes Barnes’ vocals and the result is a good to very good dance track. It’s striking how much eradicating a few braindead lyrics improves the song.

The “Jon Brion Remix EP” recasts “Skeletal Lamping” in an interesting light, and maybe Barnes should have asked Brion to produce the original album in the first place. Barnes is as unique an artist as you’ll find in music today, and he certainly has the right to pursue whatever personal vision he wants.

That said, “Skeletal Lamping” was somewhere between subpar and dismal; Brion deserves all the credit in the world for pulling a decent EP out of it. If only he would’ve chosen to remix “Hissing Fauna” or even “The Sunlandic Twins,” this could have been something special. Instead, it’s an interesting exercise unlikely to appeal to anyone who doesn’t already love Of Montreal.

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