For Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser, the duo who comprise New York’s MGMT, becoming one of the most buzzed-about bands during the 2007 CMJ Music Marathon wasn’t quite what they were after. Up until that point, they had avoided the blog-driven chatter that can turn a band into an overnight sensation during industry showcases like CMJ and South by Southwest.
That’s because MGMT actually had a deal fall in its lap 11 months prior, the old-fashioned way: band makes EP, intern passes EP around the Columbia Records office, Columbia contacts band. “We wanted to try to make a good major label album,” VanWyngarden says. “It’s kind of an obstacle we’re facing, but we like that. Everybody now is on an indie label, so we’re being different by being on a major.”
MGMT’s debut, “Oracular Spectacular,” is also a different animal for Columbia, which releases it physically this week. (A quiet digital release in October has shifted 1,000 units, according to Nielsen SoundScan.)
A&R manager Maureen Kenny explains her initial pitch around the office: “I presented it as, ‘I don’t know what this is, I don’t know where this belongs, but I can’t stop listening to it.’ ” Indeed, “Oracular” is tough to classify because it combines the band’s early days of electro-pop laptop experimentation in Wesleyan University dorm rooms with more polished psychedelic rock.