Just like in literature, and just like in film, musicians have long been releasing music in trilogies. Some get it all done at once and release a musical trilogy as a triple album, such as George Harrison's All Things Must Pass and this year's brilliant Have One On Me by Joanna Newsom. Others take their time, releasing trilogies over the span of three separate albums, notably Tom Waits' unofficial New York City trilogy of Swordfishtrombones, Rain Dogs, and Franks Wild Years.

This summer sees the release of two albums that conclude trilogies of sorts by Athens, Georgia's of Montreal and Los Angeles' Eels. Many musical trilogies are usually only labeled as such by fans and music journalists, as of Montreal's indie psychedelic funk threesome of Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, Skeletal Lamping, and False Priest is not an official trilogy, but they do share similar sounds and themes, and the titles of the latter two albums are taken from the lyrics of Hissing Fauna's "Faberge Falls For Shuggie".

of Montreal

of Montreal's trio revolve around themes of heartbreak, despair, and madness, with occasional brief but euphoric hints of love, usually all sounding like they're taking place at a big party that just got a little too weird. Hissing Fauna will likely go down as the classic record of the bunch (and possibly the entire of Montreal discography), as it eclipsed most of the other releases of 2007 (and the rest of the decade, really) in terms of memorable songs, grand scale, and all-around fun. 2009's Skeletal Lamping was a bit rougher around the edges, but still managed to produce one of the all time great opening tracks to any album in "Nonpareil Of Favor" and one of the finest and most sorrowful Elton John impressions in "Touched Something's Hollow".

This month's readily accessible and danceable False Priest fittingly features guest appearances from of Montreal tour, festival, and wardrobe buddy Janelle Monáe and Beyonce's little sister Solange Knowles (Beyonce has stated her desire to work with Kevin Barnes as well). With the notable guests on board, only two songs stretching beyond the five-minute mark, and most songs nestling into a comfortable verse-chorus-verse format, this may be of Montreal's fiercest attempt at a pop breakthrough, and the results are very positive. The album is of Montreal's most politically/religiously charged work to date, as evidenced during Kevin Barnes' manipulated-voice rant at the end of album closer "You Do Mutilate?" ("If you think God is more important than your neighbor, you're capable of terrible evil"). Insanely catchy opener "I Feel Ya Strutter" begins similiarly to Lamping's "Nonpareil of Favor", with Barnes being thankful for finding the perfect crazy girl. However, this new relationship turns dark quickly, as Barnes speaks of Al-Anon meetings and hooking up with his object of desire's cousin because it was "thrilling to touch something that had touched you" on the very next track. False Priest never hits the stratospheric highs found on Hissing Fauna, but is definitely more consistent than Skeletal Lamping, and of Montreal's third consecutive sex romp is one of the most entertaining albums of 2010.

Check out the vicious video for False Priest's "Coquet Coquette":


On the other end of the indie rock spectrum sits the brooding Eels, led by perpetually tortured frontman Mark Oliver Everett. Eels' very official trilogy, started just last year with Hombre Lobo: 12 Songs of Desire, followed by January's End Times, and concluded next month with Tomorrow Morning, shares similar themes of of Montreal's trilogy with gloom and doom, mixed with sexual desire and love. Everett has always held a special talent for infusing hope and an uplifting message in the scenes of loss and death commonly found throughout his music, most notably on his 1998 monumental masterpiece Electro-Shock Blues.

Hombre Lobo was one of Eels's loudest and rawest albums, and appropriately so as the full title suggests it's an album about the primal emotion of desire. The album chronicles the intense desire and subsequent loneliness a man can feel when wallowing after a certain type of femme fatale. That feeling of desolation was the focus of its follow-up, End Times. End Times is the very definition of a breakup or divorce rock record, and has Everett drowning in this kind of misery more than ever before. The result was probably the biggest misstep of his career, as it is the only Eels album that didn't include that wry smirk in front of the troubled mind. It was just all sadness.

While that smirk was nowhere to be found on End Times, Tomorrow Morning is a beaming, hopeful smile in front of a mind that no longer seems troubled. Eels' ninth studio album (does this suggest an ennealogy?) has Everett's affinity for hard rock numbers ("Baby Loves Me") and spirited ballads ("I Like The Way This Is Going"), and it's also his first true foray into electronics, as 6+ minute album centerpiece "This Is Where It Gets Good" has a foundation of a steady robotic beat, and "Oh So Lovely" features some twinkling synthesizer. Tomorrow Morning is more of a musical cousin to Eels' debut album Beautiful Freak, a solid debut even if it was when Everett was still trying to find his musical identity, than any of their other albums, and its feel of experimental 90's alt-rock weirdness paired with a very relevant message of optimism makes it the best Eels album in years.

Here's the video for Tomorrow Morning's "Spectacular Girl":

Both of Montreal and Eels will be hitting the West Coast soon and will be putting on incredibly different concerts:

of Montreal:
October 27 - Paramount Theater - Seattle, WA (w/ Janelle Monáe)
October 28 - Roseleand Theater - Portland, OR (w/ Janelle Monáe)
October 29 - The Warfield - San Francisco, CA (w/ Janelle Monáe)
October 30 - Hollywood Palladium - Los Angeles, CA (w/ Janelle Monáe)

October 9 - The Moore Theater - Seattle, WA
October 11 - The Fillmore - San Francisco, CA
October 12 - Henry Fonda Theater - Los Angeles, CA

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