published Friday, April 6th, 2012

Athens-based indie-pop giants take the stage at Track 29 tonight

IF YOU GO

What: Of Montreal, featuring Loney Dear and Kishi Bashi.

When: 8 p.m. today.

Where: Track 29, 1400 Market St.

Admission: $15 in advance, $18 at the door.

Phone: 521-2929.

Venue website: www.track29.co.

For Of Montreal lead singer Kevin Barnes, playing songs from the band's latest album, "Paralytic Stalks," for the first time was like poking a needle into the bubble of isolation he surrounded himself with while writing it.

The band debuted material from the album on a February episode of "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon." At subsequent shows, however, Barnes said he found it difficult to weave in older songs with the newest release, which critics have lauded as especially dark and confessional since its Feb. 7 release.

"I actually had a bit of an almost personality crisis onstage the first time," he said. "We were incorporating other songs from earlier records, and I could really feel a division in my head.

" 'Paralytic Stalks' is definitely coming from a different place, and these other songs felt awkward to me."

The band's sound has evolved dramatically since Barnes founded the band in 1996. Early on, it featured a distinctly lo-fi approach and briefly flirted with upbeat pop. On "Paralytic Stalks," the band has progressed (after 15 albums) into grandiose, complexly textured productions.

For all the changes the newest album represents -- including Barnes' first time on keys in years -- he said he is glad he took the opportunity to explore a new approach.

"It's closer to what I've been trying to attain in having a very direct voice that's coming from straight from the heart and not hiding behind personas or things like that," he said. "If you're going to make timeless music, that's what you have to do."

Tonight, Of Montreal's "Paralytic Stalk" will play at Track 29 as part of a tour that has included dates in Chicago, New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C.

According to entries on concert database Setlist.fm, songs from "Paralytic Stalks" have featured heavily at recent stops on the tour. These newer entries are interspersed with material from other recent albums, including "The Sunlandic Twins" (2005), "Skeletal Lamping" (2008) and "False Priest" (2010).

Despite the initial difficulty he felt playing "Paralytic Stalks" live, Barnes said this tour is helping him find the album's proper place in their catalog.

"I couldn't initially confine it [the songs] in a natural way," he explained, "[but] playing it night after night, it's definitely become easier and to allow myself -- almost in a schizophrenic way or a split-personality kind of way -- to just fill myself neatly into each song, even if it came from a different place.

"Somehow, I've been able to split my personality up in that way and just go with whatever organic spirit is of each song."

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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