Father John Misty
Josh Tillman is a mystery to me. I own his discography, I've listened to his music for years, yet the subtle ways he reinvents himself always confuses me. I think "Josh, come on, we had a good thing going here. What are you doing?", but in the end, I always like it. He first gained fame through his quiet, melancholic folk music under J. Tillman before banging the drum for mega-folk band Fleet Foxes. Now, as Father John Misty, Joshua has taken elements from previous projects, thrown in some jangly country and rock, cut his long hair, and began a new path to obscure fame with his latest release Fear Fun.
It seems that his latest identity crisis has manifested itself into a Dylan-esque rock revival. Absolutely everything is loose and catchy; drums shuffle, the organ and guitars have more hooks than Calvin Daniels' tackle box, and Father John picks up the pace on most of the tracks, encouraging the "boot-scoot boogie" and any configuration of line dancing. If dancing isn't your thing, feel free to do an awkward shoulder twist and hand clap along to "Every Man Needs a Companion" or "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings". Father John Misty hangs onto to open vocal harmonies and reverberated drums that helped make Fleet Foxes famous while incorporating a slimmer, more focused and crisp sound.
Father John Misty' Fear Fun is a fantastic listen, and one of my favorite records of the year. This record is best heard at a social gathering with a dance floor (someone's lawn will substitute), and best served with a whiskey Old Fashioned (or six). It's fun and easy to get lost in, and on a hot summer night it's bound to get your party going in the right direction.
Summer is here, so you need some summer listening. Why not try a band that knows nothing but summer? The Willowz formed in 2002 from a dusty garage in Anaheim, California and have been belting out an infusion of punk, soul, and blues inspired by the 60's and 70's since. I first heard them in a memorable scene in the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, where Mark Ruffalo and Kirsten Dunst are dancing in their underwear over top of Jimmy Carrey's unconscious body. The song was unbelievably catchy, the guitars were fuzzed out and the lyrics were screechy.
When Everyone came out in 2009, I missed it. I admittedly fell away from my love affair with the Willowz. Like an old summer crush I wasn't really interested in what they were up to. Through Youtube (much like one would stumble upon an old flame through Facebook) I noticed they had a new music video out. My intrigue led me to listen, and the pitter patter of my heart told me that the fire was rekindled.
The Willowz had matured in our time apart. They turned the volume down from 11 to 9 and wrote with greater intelligence. Their vernacular changed. Their melodics became defined. They gracefully went through their "coming of age", and I was absent for it. Of course, they hold onto their youthful distortion. That trademark sound that perked my ears in the first place.
After rediscovery, Everyone quickly became a favorite listen. Through spring and summer 2011, this album was the backing track for the shenanigans that myself and my friends took part in.
The stand out track, "Everyone", is a call to arms of sorts. It begs for an assembly to break the rules and climb the fence into the public pool at midnight; dance too close to that bonfire; walk home at sunrise. Other highlights include "Break Your Back", "Twenty Five", and the mellow, jazzy "No Heros".
For the young, and young at heart, Everyone (the entire album or just the single) should be hanging out somewhere on your summer playlist; ready and waiting to drive you through an evening of activities, whatever they happen to be.