Hot off the presses: new music! Better said, new music that is worth your time.
Father John Misty – God’s Favorite Customer – 10 songs / 38 minutes
Mr. Tillman returns quickly after the triumph that was last year’s Pure Comedy with something different but still worthy of his FJM moniker.
In a bit of an oversimplification, the three records that John Tillman has released under his Father John Misty name go a little something like this: Fear Fun was the debut of the womanizing, fun-loving but bitingly cynical caricature(?) the project was going to be; I Love You, Honeybear found the aimless derelict falling in love and starting a family; Pure Comedy found him turning his attention to the absurdity of 21st century humanity and the depressing current state of affairs.
On this album, the good Father is a little more chill, and a little more scatterbrained, but still has some things to say. Quite a bit of introspection and self-exploration is found here, most notably on the stunning minimalism and gorgeous piano playing of “The Palace” (when he sings “I’m in over my head” I get goosebumps) and “The Songwriter” and the insecurity of “Just Dumb Enough to Try”.
“Please Don’t Die” is straightforward in its description of a man who occasionally thinks of ending it all and needs to “take it easy with the morbid stuff” for the sake of his wife, and features my favorite line of the record: “all these pointless benders, with reptilian strangers; oh my God you’re so naive, you’ll leave this world in a drunken heap; who’ll make the arrangements baby, them or me?”. Lead single and the most raucous track here, “Mr. Tillman”, finds him in a more boasty mood – but listen to the lyrics, there is a recognition that his (his character’s?) lifestyle is not sustainable.
There are some moments of sincerity here also, which is rare for an artist that always seems to be delivering some serious shit with his tongue firmly in his cheek. When he asks “What’s your politics, what’s your religion; what’s your intake, your reason for livin’?” on the opening track “Hangout at the Gallows”, it comes as close to earnest as this guy is going to get. On the album closer Josh laments that “people, we are only people” and seems at peace with this, which is in sharp contrast to his visceral and relentless attack on humanity on his last album.
This batch of songs doesn’t live up to the quality found on his last two records, but that is not a fair baseline – those were generational classics, and this thing is still very, very good. A must-listen for fans of his work, and a fine place to start for those somehow still unexposed to the man who is quite possibly the best songwriter going right now.
One last side note: he is playing the Knitting Factory in downtown Boise on August 12th – Jesus people, if you don’t have a ticket – drop what you are doing and Get. One. Right. Now. If you don’t like it, I will pay you back myself. And probably not speak to you about music anymore after that.
Key Tracks: “The Palace”, ”Please Don’t Die”, “Just Dumb Enough To Try”
Warmduscher – Whale City
While not quite consistent enough to make the grade, this rocker is a pretty fun listen in parts, most notably “Standing on the Corner”, “1000 Whispers”, and the spoken-word craziness of “I Got Friends”. If you are a fan of rock that is rough around the edges while not exactly lo-fi (think the recent Dommengang album but with a little more noise), give it a spin.
Ruen Brothers – All My Shades of Blue
Where Rick Rubin found these two I am not sure, but a time machine was likely involved. They are a definite throwback to the good old days of simply recorded country/soul rock, with some serious vocal delivery. “Summer Sun” is my favorite track. Thanks to my man WellCat for throwing this one my way.
Roger Daltrey – As Long As I Have You
Best known as the frontman of The Who, Roger brings it down a few levels on this one. The title track and “How Far” are pretty solid songs, even if a fair amount of this was a bit dull.
Ben Howard – Noonday Dream
Although I have enjoyed some of his previous work, this one just didn’t move the needle for me at all. There are many, many better singer-songwriter/Americana albums out there to spend your time on.