FUN: Matt & Kim CD, Of Montreal and Janelle Monae live

View from their Coachella stage in April

Matt & KimSidewalks…I first met Matt & Kim at SXSW 2009, shortly after the release of their last album “Grand”. Delightful people, and you can check out our interview. Their crowd reactions are some of the most exuberant anywhere. They create more per capita audience grins than almost anybody. “Daylight” from their last album actually went gold just from TV exposure and word of mouth, as it didn’t receive much radio play at all. Constant touring and rave live reviews have set them up beautifully for the release of new album “Sidewalks”.  They recruited noted producer Ben H. Allen as opposed to last time out, when they self-recorded in the bedroom where Matt grew up. As expected, the sound of this record is far bigger and the music more mature. Matt has some dazzling synth parts and the choruses are catchy. While they are once again melodic and fun, it’s not as much fun. There is that loss of some spontaneity and infectiousness that often accompanies musical growth. These songs will work great live and hopefully in TV commercials, but the album itself feels formula to me. To really blow up, Matt & Kim need to strike gold again. I’m rooting for them big time, but I’m not sure they are any hits on this record. Track tips besides single “Cameras” are “Good For Great”, “Red Paint”, and slower song “Northeast”.

Of Montreal played a Halloween-eve show at LA’s Palladium. Perfect timing! Leader Kevin Barnes can always be counted on to provide something new and different, and this tour is no exception. He was backed by a 7-piece and a dance troupe that is unpredictable even by OK! Go standards. The dancers were a true highlight, dressed as dragons, skeletons, pigs, goldfish, etc. It was a good show as expected from Kevin & Co. As is the case with many bands, the older songs went down better. Earlier shows on this tour featured Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” for an encore. That would have been ideal on Halloween weekend but the tune was curiously omitted this time.

Janelle Monae opened. She’s a huge Of Montreal fan and added vocals to their “Enemy Gene” album track. Janelle sings great, looks great, and moves great. She’s on her way to becoming a star. It was disappointing that she didn’t duet with Kevin on “Enemy Gene” as she has on other tour stops. She would probably have also joined in for “Thriller”.

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