Showing posts with label father john misty. Show all posts
Showing posts with label father john misty. Show all posts

Sunday, January 6, 2019

the top 25 best albums of 2018 (VIDEO)

And that's the last of year-end list promotion...whew.

Next up... honestly, no idea, we'll see - stay tuned!

the top 25 best albums of 2018

Normally this is the list that feels like the greatest relief to make - it's the final moment where we can lay a year to rest chronicling the best of the best, the sort of release that comes with it being the last list but also one that feels the most professional, for lack of better words. I'm having fun with the lists of the best and worst hits, I'm getting more personal with the overall songs list - this list for critics is staking claim, drawing our lines in the sand, and as such, it's normally the most professionally rewarding.

But I have to say, in comparison to previous years, this list was not that hard to make. Even though I covered far more albums in 2018 than ever before, it felt like I hit greatness less often on average. Which is probably not completely true, but it sure as hell feels like it, especially given that the cuts weren't that painful this year, or it certainly seemed like there was less of them to make. And while I don't do an Honourable Mentions segment for this list, I will say I'm a little regretful that I have to leave Rolo Tomassi and Against All Logic off this list, and I'm sure I'm going to surprise some folks by saying that Beach House and Kacey Musgraves also missed the cut - sorry, but especially in country, Kacey had stiffer competition. But really, if we're to highlight a genre that turned out in spades in 2018, it was hip-hop - and no jokes here, this is more hip-hop on this albums list than I think there has ever been before... which yes, means that there were two painful cuts in the form of Marlowe and Armand Hammer. But you know, let's start off with hip-hop here...

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

the top 50 best songs of 2018

The tagline that I've always had with this list is that it's the hardest to make, but let me qualify it: it's the one that easily requires the most work. And considering this is the year where I reviewed more albums than ever before, you'd think for the sheer volume of material this would be excruciating to assemble...

But in truth, this top 50 list actually fell out pretty quickly, at least with respect to the volume of music I've consumed. It still takes a lot of refinement to go through the best songs of any given year, but the truth about 2018 was that for as many songs as I loved, most of them were concentrated onto specific albums, which might lead to a slightly less diverse list as a whole. And if there was a year where my qualification that I can only put up to three songs from any given album on this list was tested... yeah, it was here. And yet even with that qualification, this list is kind of all over the place - little more hip-hop heavy than previous years and we'll get into why on my final list - and I'll freely admit there isn't quite as much metal or electronic music I'd prefer, but I needed to be honest with this one. Keep in mind songs from albums I covered on the Trailing Edge are eligible, and that if you don't see any songs from an album I loved earlier this year, there's no guarantee it won't show up on a different list - some albums don't put out the best individual songs and vice-versa. 

But no more wasting time, let's get this started!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

the top albums/songs of the midyear - 2018

There are years where I struggle with this midyear list, sometimes in years overloaded with quality that force me to make some painful cuts, or years that are a little more scant I'm stuck with what seems like a smaller list... and still have to make painful cuts. 

And thus it feels odd that building this 2018 midyear list is perhaps one of the easiest I've ever assembled, and since I'm not about to assume I'm getting good at this, I'm genuinely curious why that might be. I will say that outside of hip-hop, other genres don't seem to be having an exceptionally strong year - great albums in rock and country and metal but few that really went over the top in terms of quality, and I'd argue pop has had it even worse. But more than that, even the records that just missed the cut - Beach House, Iceage, Parquet Courts, Against All Logic, and especially Phonte - while they were truly terrific releases, I'm not precisely torn up that they had to miss the cut, as they all have a considerable shot for the year-end as my tastes evolve and change. 

So given that this is my fifth list like this, you know the rules: the albums and songs have to have been reviewed in 2018, and while I'm fairly certain you'll all know what's going to top this list, I'll add that there are songs from The Trailing Edge that have a chance to wind up in the individual songs, because there really were some incredible cuts there. So let's not waste any time and start with...

Monday, June 4, 2018

video review: 'god's favorite customer' by father john misty

And here's the first review of the night... but it's not over yet, stay tuned!

album review: 'god's favorite customer' by father john misty

So there comes two distinctive times in every singer-songwriter's life, especially if they've got a theatrical slant and even more especially if they've had any degree of crossover success. The first is the concept record: the overblown, overwrought 'statement of the human condition' record that often proves to be the point where even diehard fans start looking for the exits. These are the records that end careers, full stop... but if they don't, you get the second case: the inevitable comedown release, the one that might try to win back the fanbase but crystallizes more on the wide-eyed, panicked feeling that you have nothing else to say and thus are going to collapse inwards in spectacular fashion. They're often just as pretentious but considerably more uncomfortable, the artist ripping away any veneer in grotesque, self-destructive fashion to expose the humanity within, when the artist holes up in a mansion or hotel and truly starts to fly off the rails - and sometimes more rails than you might realize.

And I'm not remotely surprised that Josh Tillman aka Father John Misty took both of these steps, especially considering the narrow line he walks between biting self-aware satire and genuine earnestness which manifested most strongly on the breakthrough record I Love You Honeybear in 2015. And thus with Pure Comedy we got the overblown concept record and now... look, the seeds have been planted for years, Tillman knew he'd have to go down this rabbit hole in the same way Dylan and Beck and Berninger and Cave have, for as much as he has deconstructed his ego and artistic persona, it's still one he has yet to truly set on fire, and God's Favorite Customer looked like it would be that moment. And I'll admit records with these themes really get under my skin in a great way - beyond just the artistic deconstruction and raw humanity exposed, for an artist with such intense self-awareness of the artifice of his image and the crowd that has embraced it, ironically or otherwise, as Josh Tillman, he would know exactly what buttons to push, a You're The Worst-episode made flesh. In other words, this could be a total trainwreck and I'd be here for it, so what did we get on God's Favorite Customer?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

video review: 'pure comedy' by father john misty

So I was up and down on this record a lot through many a listen... and you know, overall I'm landing on great. Pretty sweet record, definitely glad to cover it.

Anyway, the next record will be FAR less good, so after Billboard BREAKDOWN... well, stay tuned!

Monday, April 10, 2017

album review: 'pure comedy' by father john misty

I think there were a lot of people surprised by I Love You, Honeybear.

Hell, I was surprised. I had liked Josh Tillman's debut Fear Fun under the Father John Misty moniker, but his 2015 followup was in a different ballpark of quality. Huge, lush production, a knack for incredibly sticky melodies, and a narrative throughline that was as witty and twisted as it was genuine and heartfelt. I'll wholeheartedly admit the record's warped yet self-aware framing did require a certain headspace to appreciate - especially considering the romantic relationship that was being explored in plenty of lurid detail - but it connected for me, and it was very nearly my favourite record of that year.

But then comes the bigger question: how the hell do you follow that? The grand romance of I Love You, Honeybear was so well-structured, a self-contained masterpiece... and while Father John Misty had flirted with social commentary on the record I was a little unsure how well it could connect on a whole album, which was what Pure Comedy reportedly had. Let's get real: even if Father John Misty's insight proved valid, I could see a lot of people dismissing it because of both the delivery and the messenger himself, especially if it threw in elements of self-aware satire. It's a fine line to trace, and while I was reasonably confident he could pull it off, I was tempering my expectations going into Pure Comedy - so did Josh Tillman pull it off?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

the top 25 best albums of 2015 (VIDEO)

And now we've got the last of the lists - damn, this video took WAY too much work to get online...

Okay, next up... well, it's Rachel Platten, so nobody cares, but after that is Billboard BREAKDOWN, so stay tuned!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

the top 25 best albums of 2015

We're now onto my final list, the one that always produces a certain amount of frustration as I struggle to recognize the best of the best. And as I said in my last list, it's always difficult to narrow it down to the best of the best. And this year was probably the hardest yet, mostly because it started so damn strong and was able to sustain that momentum into late this year. And while I was able to trim this list down to 25. And thus for the sake of my own conscience, I need to mention a few Honourable Mentions in no particular order that just missed this list. 

Because believe me, when you have comeback records like No Cities To Love by Sleater-Kinney and Tetsuo & Youth by Lupe Fiasco that show huge returns to form, they deserve at least a shoutout. Hell, an album that features a creative rebirth like Baroness' Purple which dropped very late in the year deserves it too. And then you have underappreciated gems like Escape From Evil by Lower Dens, one of the great unsung synthpop records of this year. And on that note, as much it might be a bit of a contentious statement to say that hip-hop had a great year, I stand by it - when you have Earl Sweatshirt, Jay Rock, The Underachievers, Yelawolf, Pusha T and Czarface dropping stellar sophomore records, coupled with comebacks of unexpected quality from Ludacris and killer debuts from Joey Bada$$, all of which might have had a shot for this list in a weaker year, that's saying something. And that's not counting the list itself that's at least twenty percent hip-hop, but we'll get to that - hell, might as well start with...

Friday, January 1, 2016

the top 50 best songs of 2015

And now we're onto the list that's always the hardest for me to make, mostly because it requires by far the most work: the best songs of the year, overall. Not just hits, but singles and deep cuts from album ranging from widely successful to barely out of the underground.

And this year was harder than most, mostly because it was a damn great year for music. The charts may have been strong, but that was nothing compared to the cavalcade of great music we got, which meant that cutting this list down from thousands to around 630 to 165 to the fifty we have meant that there were a lot of painful cuts, so much so that I seriously considered instituting a one-song-per-album rule. In the end... I couldn't do it, because there were some records that were so unbelievably good that I had to include multiple entries. Now we'll be covering those albums in greater detail a bit later this week, but in the end I held to the rule that at most I could put three songs from any one album on this list - and that we easily had more of those makes my argument that was a damn solid year of music, probably better than last year's, all the more powerful. 

One more thing before we start: while I can describe music well and why it works for me on a technical level, most of the songs on this list cut a fair bit deeper than that, and thus I'll endeavor to provide some emotional context as to why they worked so well beyond a purely intellectual exercise. And of course it's my picks - there might some common overlap between my choices and other critics, but it would be disingenuous to choose tracks for 'cultural importance' rather than what really got to me more deeply.

So let's start with a track that completely threw me off-guard.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

the top albums/songs of the midyear - 2015 (VIDEO)

Almost forgot to put this video up. This was a ton of fun, really did love making this - always nice to talk about music that's actually all sorts of awesome.

So next up is Billboard BREAKDOWN, and then finally I might have time for this new Vince Staples... stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

the top album/songs of the midyear - 2015

Last year when I put together this list, I was debating its very relevance. I mean, would it give away what would turn out to be my top albums of the year overall, or would it find an audience at all?

This year, the debate was different: I knew I had to do a midyear review for 2015 because there was so much quality that came out in the front half of the year that I'm honestly a little concerned I'm not going to get a chance to highlight it all. Between comebacks that delivered in spades, debuts that blew my mind, and records that seemed to have an abundance of creativity more than I would have ever expected, the first six months of 2015 have been overwhelming strong, to the point where keeping my list of albums to twelve was insanely difficult. It'll be incredible if the rest of the year keeps up this momentum, but for now, here is my top albums of 2015, thus far:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

video review: 'i love you, honeybear' by father john misty

Dear god, I love this record. Seriously, it'll be one of my favourites of the year, bar none - so witty and charming and ridiculous, it's been on constant loop for the past couple days, definitely can see this holding up.

Okay, tomorrow is Billboard BREAKDOWN, so stay tuned!

album review: 'i love you, honeybear' by father john misty

So let me ask you all what might seem to be an interesting question: how seriously should we take music?

And I don't mean this in the tiresome argument that, 'oh, you take music too seriously, most people don't care about bad lyrics and they just want to dance and it's popular and on the radio and ergo it's good' and all that nonsense that I hear whenever I review a bad pop record. No, this is more related to music with more of a comedic or whimsical tone - and that in some cases, it doesn't get a lot of respect. Let me put it this way: it's very rare outside of specific comedy records that an album or an artist being funny or light-hearted is praised, at least not as a primary focus. And I'm guilty of this too - I love the albums from Run The Jewels and Open Mike Eagle last year for their composition and technique and raw emotional power, but I didn't really highlight that they also had a real sense of humour and wit beyond their dramatic emotional pathos.

The frustrating thing is that comedy can have real emotive power just like drama, and I'd argue it's even more difficult to achieve, especially if you're looking for something with staying power. And going for something like carefree whimsy is even harder - by its very nature it's frivolous and flighty, something that might bring a ready smile but it's extremely rare it can connect on that deeper level on its own merits without resorting to darker, dramatic cliches. I guess the closest thing I can think of are the Discworld novels by Sir Terry Pratchett, but he's a one-of-a-kind genius and is frequently praised for it.

So why bring this up? Well, when I started listening through the 2012 debut album Fear Fun from Josh Tillman under the alter ego Father John Misty, I really got a sense of that whimsy managing to stick for me. The album is a little difficult to describe - reminiscent of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, but instead of hazy hippie earnestness, Fear Fun was a rambling, semi-coherent record from a caricature of a hippie cult leader who is not only entirely self-aware, but careening out of flights of drug-addled cartoonish silliness. But there was wit and insight and a bacchanalian feel to the lyrics that was really infectious, even if to some extent it was completely full of shit. Josh Tillman may have initially built his reputation as a serious artistic folk singer-songwriter and some wildly exaggerated by everyone except him work with Fleet Foxes, but he sounded way more comfortable in a more lighthearted vein. Now the album did suffer for its more serious moments and its more conventional instrumentation, but I still recommend it and I was definitely curious to really dig into his sophomore followup I Love You, Honeybear - how is it?