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Gay Parade

4.1 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 16, 1999
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Editorial Reviews

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Pop fans rejoice: Here's yet another delightful concept album from a member of the Elephant Six family, Of Montreal, who actually hail from Athens, Georgia. Of Montreal are more like third cousins to the E6 clan; their sound is cohesively pop oriented and distinctively quaint. The songs are bouncy, keyboard- and vocal-driven gems that collapse barbershop harmonies and well-enunciated, Tin Pan Alley vocalizations with Anglo mid-'60s pop (especially that of the ever-popular Kinks). The lyrics on Of Montreal's third full-length weave an intricate story in childrens-book logic, with invisible trees, a miniature philosopher, and a cast of hundreds. The words from the buoyant "Fun Loving Nun" (whose chorus appears to have been sung by the mice from Babe) can be seen as The Gay Parade's moral: "Some of us get covered up by the world, become bitter from our loneliness and forget our dreams." --Mike McGonigal
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 16, 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Bar/None Records
  • ASIN: B00000I0FP
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,467 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Of Montreal are not a novelty act. They are musical visionaries. With "The Gay Parade", they have crafted what is easily one of the best "concept" albums since Jethro Tull's "A Passion Play". It's just a mark of how times have changed to realize that 30 years ago, "Passion Play" was a #1 record and "The Gay Parade" will probably only be heard by a few thousand people. Frustratiing, huh?
Anyway, be glad that you are one of the few that cares enough to discover this record. Is it odd? you bet. Quirky, weird, psychedelic. Probably. Cute? No. That does it a disservice. It is a brillinatly conceived song-cycle of character sketches. The characters are, of course, an eccentric lot. A guy obsessed with a certain mean boxer, a widower with his "dogs for friends" awaiting death, a French firemen pining for heroism, an ecstatic dude waxing poetic about mowing the lawn while his wife knits. While the vocals approach giddy and cartoonish, the songs themselves can range for hilarious to rather disturbing--- often with one turn-of-phrase. There is indeed a intangible saddness looming over this private world, despite the Crayola surroundings.
The sound of the record is fascinating. The best thing about bands like Of Montreal, Olivia Tremor Control, etc. is that they know exactly the sonic landscape they wish to create and accomplish it with minimalist recording technology. The result is a sonic juggernaut of an album that sounds at once high-concept and low-fidelity... hiss, tape saturation, drops-outs--- all part of the sound. And it's damn near brilliant. Horns, tape manipulations, choirs of mice, saws, kazoos, plastic guitars--- many of the instruments barely in tune.
To my ear, it sounds like a benediction.
At the end of the record Kevin Barnes advises his listeners that they now know the way into the world of "The Gay Parade" and can return any time they like.... Can't I just set up camp and *stay*, Kev?
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Format: Audio CD
Of Montreal has built a career on exuberant, sweet concept albums that bounce with life and love. "The Gay Parade" is a snapshot of them at their best -- it has the strangeness of "Cocquelicot," but is more accessable. These songs cheery oddball pop, but it sounds so uncalculated that it never quite sounds twee.

The acoustic/piano-ballad "Old Familiar Way" starts off the album, but it mostly focuses on how "It's amazing the wonders you can find/Just by stepping outside." Only at the end does Kevin Barnes greet listeners with "Welcome to the Gay Parade!" The album then switches to a bunch of songs about the glorious people, such as the bouncy dancey "Fun-Loving Nun," singsong "Tulip Baroo," and "The Miniature Philosopher."

While describing boxers, grandfathers and stuttering organ grinders, Barnes and Co. don't stray away from their typical little sweet songs: there's a carnival sound to "March of the Gay Parade," a goofy little sweet song. Elsewhere Barnes sings eagerly about the "Domestic Life," longs for special friends, and chronicles the story of Niki Coco, before finally bidding farewell in "The Gay Parade Outro."

The entire album more or less revolves around the Gay Parade, and how much happier the people in it (and near it) are. The general feeling is that it's not so much a real gathering as a state of mind -- enjoying the little things, "making friends with trees and animals," and seeing the magic of the world.

The songs rely heavily on Barnes' acoustic guitar, and the sweet piano pop that comes into the intro and outro. Little chimes and psychedelic swooshes give it an even more whimsical feel. And an electric organ gives a sort of dancey fun feel to "Fun Loving Nun," to the point where it's hard to notice Barnes' weird lyrics.
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Format: Audio CD
When I first bought this album, I was a little annoyed by it. It is EXTREMELY cute, and very fast, a little like Barney on amphetamines. But then I gave it a chance, and I absolutely, 100%, love this album.
THE GAY PARADE is not as silly or shallow as it sounds at first. It really deals with a lot of issues of issues we all deal with, such as feelings of inferiority (on "Hector Comacho"), or else just figuring out what is really meaningful in your life (on the opening track.) Yes, I know, when you hear the album you'll think I may have read way too much into what sounds like an out-of-control carnival. But there is definitely a dark side to this album. This dark side is subtle, but if it weren't, it really would have ruined the album's overall innocent and gleeful tone.
Plus, Of Montreal are great musicians and singers. Their harmonies are perfect, and Kevin Barnes's voice is just loaded with charm. And the guitars, drums, and all the other jillion instruments are all perfectly produced; there's a lot of sound here, but it's not at all extraneous. It is really a great album just on the musical level.
If I still haven't convinced you to buy THE GAY PARADE, then I just have to say "Nickee Coco and the Invisible Tree" is one of the most joyful and hilarious songs around. It alone would be a great album!
You don't hear much joy and happiness in music these days, and THE GAY PARADE is a great place to start.
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Format: Vinyl
Musically, I give it 5 stars, easy. But as any fan of of Montreal will tell you, one of the many things that make their albums so great is the album artwork done by David Barnes--so I was pretty disappointed to find out that the vinyl version comes with a very pared down version of the artwork that comes with the cd....
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