Josh Tillman a.k.a Father John Misty is a fascinating musician. As a solo artist he has produced plenty of quality records from ‘A Minor Works’ to ‘A Year in the Kingdom’ and gained such a reputation as a musician that he was persuaded to join Fleet Foxes as their drummer, an association which has ended, moving to LA in the process to focus once again on his own music. However, his latest record ‘Fear Fun’ has been released under the quite unusual moniker ‘Father John Misty’.
Tillman explains on Subpops’ – his new label – website that he had “…lost all interest in writing music, or identifying as a ‘songwriter’. I got into my van with enough mushrooms to choke a horse and started driving down the coast with nowhere to go. After a few weeks, I was writing a novel, which is where I finally found my narrative voice. The voice that is actually useful.” He explains that “I was honest with myself about what music actually excites my joy-glands when I was considering the arrangements and instrumentation.” “As opposed to what’s been enjoyable to me in the past – namely, alienating people or making choices based on what I think people won’t like or understand. Pretty narcissistic stuff.”
So does this come across in the music? Simple answer is yes. Tillman has ultimately created an alias to allow himself to grow as an artist without necessarily being judged for doing so. If released under his own name I believe that this album would be seen as a major departure and risk, which it undoubtedly is. However, under the name Father John Misty, Tillman has had the freedom to explore new ground without ever alienating his original audience. As one of those original audience members, I can confirm that this new approach to music is one that is refreshing and exciting and Tillman has lost none of the song qualities that has made him stand out for me for such a long time. Missing him at Nice N’Sleazy’s a couple of years ago is still one of my biggest disappointments, such is my admiration for his abilities.
The voice is still there, the intelligent lyricism is still there, but this record is packed with much more. Much more instrumentation and a much fuller approach to the songs. Not once on the record does a track appear where it is just Tillman and his voice. On the one hand this is a disappointment because not many people can hold the attention with such limited resources in the way Tillman can. On the other hand, it’s brilliant to hear Tillman crank it up a notch and let loose, or as he puts it ‘listen to someone rip their arm off and beat themselves with it.’ Cause at times, that’s exactly how the record feels like especially on the brilliant ‘Hollyood Forever Cemetry Sings’.
This is not Fleet Foxes (thankfully), nor is this anything like his previous work. It’s not fresh of course nodding it’s hat greatly to The Eagles, Waylon Jennings and in particular Roy Orbison but it’s a great new direction for a brilliant artist who continues to grow in stature whether that be under his own name, his current moniker or any other name he chooses to throw into the arena in the future. Definitely one to check out. In the meantime check out his KEXP performance and purchase “Fear Fun’ here.
Red Bull Music Academy has released a short film about DFA Records, “Too Old to Be New, Too New to Be Classic”. It features interviews with DFA founders James Murphy and Jonathan Galkin as well as members of DFA acts like LCD Soundsystem, Holy Ghost!, YACHT, the Rapture, and more. It’s narrated by Marc Maron (“WTF with Marc Maron”) and directed by Max Joseph (MTV’s “Catfish)”.
On May 25, RBMA will present a DFA Records 12th anniversary celebration at Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn. It will feature Murphy, the Juan MacLean, Shit Robot, the Crystal Ark, Factory Floor, YACHT, Black Dice, Pat Mahoney, Nancy Whang, Tim Sweeney, members of the Rapture DJing, Prinzhorn Dance School, Planningtorock, Larry Gus, Still Going, Dan Bodan, and Marcus Marr.
Ryan Adam’s eagerly anticipated follow-up to his 2011 “comeback” album Ashes and Fire will be released October 15 via Capitol, according to a posted release schedule from the label. The new album — as yet untitled — is again produced by legendary studio man Glyn Johns (Who, Clash, Stones) who also handled Adam’s Ashes and Fire. Producer/guitarist Ethan Johns, who worked with Adams on his Heartbreaker and Gold albums is a member of Adams’ post-Cardinals studio and stage band joining Tom Petty sideman Benmont Tench on keyboards, Don Was on bass, Cindy Cashdollar on steel guitar, Jeremy Stacey on drums.
The new album is said to continue Ashes and Fire‘s lush and mellow folk/rock tone with Billboard hinting that the new songs have “more orchestral flourishes.” New tracks are said to include “When I Meet You In My Mind” and “In the Shadows”, two new songs Adams and band premiered at a London charity concert this past March.- Direct Current Music
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