Tag Archives: Sub Pop

New Iron and Wine video: Thomas County Law

Video: Iron & Wine – “Thomas County Law”

Iron & Wine – Thomas County Law [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

From Beast Epic, out now on Sub Pop

Boy, Sam Beam is taking full advantage of his impressive beard in the latest Iron & Wine video, portraying a old-timey Southern preacher setting up for a funeral. He was born to play this role.

But this is a really good song. Some great lines like “The church bell isn’t kidding when it cries for you” and “There’s nowhere safe to bury all the time I’ve killed.” Classic Iron & Wine.

Iron and Wine: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Father John Misty video: Things It Would Have Been Helpful To Know Before The Revolution

Video: Father John Misty – “Things It Would Have Been Helpful To Know Before The Revolution”

Father John Misty – Things It Would Have Been Helpful To Know Before The Revolution [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

From Pure Comedy, out now on Sub Pop.

While we’re all thinking about nuclear armageddon and waking up every morning to check to see if Guam still exists on the map, FJM treats us to a little glimpse of our post-apocalyptic future where the ravaged planet is littered with protest signs, skeletons, and abandoned iPhones. Good morning, beautiful!

“Things It Would Have Been Helpful To Know” is a piano ballad with gorgeous strings and horn arrangements (by Jacob Cartwright and James King, respectively) that works as an effective background to Tillman’s snarky descriptions of an unplugged life. “My social life is now quite a bit less hectic / The nightlife and the protests are pretty scarce.” “The obscene injunction to enjoy life disappears as in a dream.” “We all get a bit restless with no one advertising to us constantly.”

This all reminds me of the great Hugh Brown Shu spoken word piece, “A Real Talk Show,” where the little girl with no arms and no legs confronts the narrator who has attempted to force Geraldo to dig beneath the surface. “If it’s so bad, Mister Hugh Brown Shu, why don’t you end it all right now, huh? You’ve got the gun. It’s all pain, it’s all anger, oh it’s so terrible! So why don’t you just shove that piece in your mouth and end it all? Do us all a favor: get rid of yourself! Do you think you’re helping us by walking in here? What are you, some maverick agent of truth?”

I think about that a lot in these days of constant commentary and outrage porn. Josh Tillman likes to point out how shallow our lives are. But as the little girl with no arms and no legs says, “To what ends? Yes, the show’s shallow. Of course it’s shallow. That’s why we watch it. Wow, what a fucking crusader you are!”

Father John Misty is the crusader we deserve.

Father John Misty: web, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Iron and Wine video: Call It Dreaming

Video: Iron & Wine – “Call It Dreaming”

Iron & Wine – Call It Dreaming [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

From Beast Epic, due August 25 on Sub Pop.

Do you miss the old Iron & Wine? When it was pretty much just Sam Beam and a guitar? Before he got all into world music or whatever the hell he’s been doing for the past ten years? You’re in luck! Beam says, “I feel there’s a certain kinship between this new collection of songs and my earliest material.”

Well, this new song isn’t as stripped down as The Creek Drank the Cradle but it’s closer to Our Endless Numbered Days than anything since then. And that’s a good direction. With optimistic lyrics and acoustic instrumentation, it’s easily the best Iron & Wine song I’ve heard in a decade. Plus, I’m a sucker for the sentiment of reminding folks to let your loved ones know you care about them before they die.

And we get a chance to say
Before we ease away
For all the love you’ve left behind,
You can have mine

Iron and Wine: web, twitter, fb, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Iron and Wine video: Call It Dreaming

New Afghan Whigs video: Oriole

At first I thought, “This is what you get when you give 13 year old boys cameras, a budget and free reign to shoot a music video.” I mean, really: It’s got naked girls running around as stoned witches in the woods with knives and fire. Kinda the perfect video, right?

It turns out that this is the work of acclaimed erotic art director, Amy Nicole Hood.  She’s got an aesthetic to be loved: Witchy, 60s pulp-inspired erotica. Even her Instagram gets the motor running.

The Afghan Whigs – Oriole [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

It all makes for a nice augmentation for the Afghan Whigs’ latest single, which itself is a spooky, smoky song with Greg Dulli’s usual bit of simmering danger.

From the album, In Spades, available now from the Sub Pop Mega Mart.

Afghan Whigs: web, twitter, fb, amazon, wiki.

Read a cool interview with Amy Hood: Sex, Power, and the Female Gaze: How Amy Hood Seized the Reins. Her book, Cult Classic, asks the question: “What could possess two young beauties to kidnap a Hollywood starlet and drag her bound and gagged into the California desert for ritual sex and human sacrifice?”

New Father John Misty video: Total Entertainment Forever

Video: Father John Misty – “Total Entertainment Forever”

Father John Misty – "Total Entertainment Forever" [Official Music Video]

If you’ve been a bit concerned that Papa John Murphy has abandoned his sense of humor, this new video might cheer you up. It’s pretty funny.

Sure, the lyrics are still a little heavy handed. As Doreen St. Felix mentions in her spot-on review of Pure Comedy, Misty often comes across as a “precocious teenage misanthrope.” Indeed, someone’s been told too many times they’re beyond their years.

But he’s still funny. In a snide, prickish way. He’s an asshole, of course, but he’s funny. We’ve all known that guy. He impresses rubes and wannabes by talking about big concepts and scoffs at the trivialities of the less enlightened. 25 years ago he would’ve had a “kill your television” bumper sticker on his car. Today he’s all about unplugging the internet.

Continue reading New Father John Misty video: Total Entertainment Forever

Father John Misty does Honeybear live on Conan

Video: Father John Misty – “I Love You, Honeybear” (live on Conan, 07/15/15)

You know I love Father John Misty. Sure, I’ve poked a little fun at the TMI tendencies of his latest album, but I still really love it. His live show at this point is legendary, so it’s always great to see him perform on television. And as expected, he doesn’t phone it in for Conan.

This live version of the title track starts out sexy and gets progressively more intense until it’s downright scary by the end. I prefer it to the orchestrated album version.

I’m not so sure about Tillman’s appearance though. My man Phil calls it the “sexy hobo look.” He looks clammy and his bushy beard makes him seem bloated like a late-era Jim Morrison. Dude needs to visit a barber. Clean yourself up, man!

Continue reading Father John Misty does Honeybear live on Conan

Has Father John Misty become Roger Clarvin?

Father John Misty - I Love You, HonerybearJosh Tillman aka Father John Misty describes his new album, I Love You, Honeybear, as “a concept album about a guy named Josh Tillman” and his relationship with his wife. Being the kind of writer he is, he refuses to stoop to sentimental cliché; instead, he engages in mean-spirited honesty and sarcastic self-loathing. To call Father John Misty “sardonic” at this point is itself a cliché.

And yet this is an album of love songs.

“She and I have created a circumstance in which it’s safe to discuss everything, all this intense, deep-down shit,” Tillman told Pitchfork. “But there’s an anxiety because I don’t know if I trust the world with my intimacies. These songs were written about our experience, now it’s time to universalize them.”

This anxiety is not unjustified. At times I Love You, Honeybear veers close to the oversharing territory mined by Will Ferrell and Rachel Dratch as Roger and Virginia Clarvin. “At this point during the soak, my lover and I usually crave spiced meats.”

One’s bourgeoisie sense of propriety might be offended to hear about the “mascara, blood, ash and cum on the Rorschach sheets where we make love.” Then again, the reference to Rorschach tests is telling, since Tillman is clearly proud enough of this line to print it on tote bags. What do you see in that line? If you’re skeeved out by it, well maybe these aren’t the love songs for you. If you appreciate the image, there’s plenty like it to follow.

These twisted tales are set against instrumentation far more lush than what we heard on Fear Fun. Almost every song features strings. Whereas a lot of Fear Fun sounded like the White Album, Honeybear sounds more like Mind Games or Walls and Bridges. The heavy-handed arrangements work great on intense songs like “An Ideal Husband” where everything sounds overwhelming and evil. But “When You’re Smiling And Astride Me” sounds too much like terrible mid-70s puss-pop/soft rock; the slide guitar tone, the soul sister background vocals, the cloying strings, it’s just too much schmaltz.

“True Affection,” on the other hand, uses synth bloops and programmed beats and sounds out of place. Tillman wrote that song “on tour while trying to woo someone with text message and email and trying to make a connection that way and the frustration of that,” he told Grantland. “So that song had to be synthetic and inorganic.” Interesting concept, sure, but a little too clever for the song’s own good.

But these quibbles don’t diminish the impact of the album as a whole. High points such as “Chateau Lobby #4,” “The Night Josh Tillman Came To Our Apartment,” and “Nothing Good Ever Happens At The Goddamn Thirsty Crow” more than make up for the occasional misstep. Producer Jonathan Wilson knows how to get a good performance down on tape, and as Tillman says, he is “truly singing [his] ass off all over this motherfucker.” His voice is incredible throughout.

I like Father John Misty. I feel like I get Tillman’s sense of humor, and I appreciate the high bar he set for himself on this album. “My ambition, aside from making an indulgent, soulful, and epic sound worthy of the subject matter, was to address the sensuality of fear, the terrifying force of love, the unutterable pleasures of true intimacy, and the destruction of emotional and intellectual prisons in my own voice.” Honesty and earnestness obviously do not come easy for him, but he’s trying…in his own Misty way. He’s still a smartass, for sure, but isn’t that the best kind of person to spend your life with?

Continue reading Has Father John Misty become Roger Clarvin?

New Father John Misty Album in February

I am very excited by the idea of a new Father John Misty album. I spent most of 2012 and 2013 obsessing over Fear Fun after being turned on to him by my sister-in-law. She had heard the song he did with Phosphorescent on the Aquarium Drunkard satellite radio show. I got into the album and finally saw him live at Lollapalooza where he stole the show and blew my mind. It was only then that I dug hard into the FJM mythology, finally catching up on the major Magnet profile and picking up the record on vinyl so I could read his self-consciously ridiculous “novel” that was included in the liner notes.

So yeah, I’m a total fanboy. And now there’s a new song from I Love You, Honeybear, his new Jonathan Wilson-produced album due February 10, 2015 on Sub Pop. And with the announcement of the album and tour, there’s also a new 4,000-word bio/listening guide.

Video: Father John Misty – “Bored in the USA” on David Letterman

The performance makes me a little nervous that his sense of humor has gotten pissier and more darkly sarcastic. Gone are the swoon-worthy dance moves, dismissed last year as “the demonic clown thing that I’d been doing,” replaced with an uncomfortable laugh track. He’s still clearly “fucking with artifice” but now I’m afraid he might be going too negative. What the world does not need right now is another fucking bummer.

Continue reading New Father John Misty Album in February

Husky – Forever So

HuskyForever So (Sub Pop)

Our favorite Seattle label is now making its way down under to find the next big thing up here. Husky represents their first signing from Melbourne, with the moniker actually the first name of the band’s guitar and vocalist.

The only “Husky” I knew growing up was the name of a JC Penny clothing line for fat kids. It didn’t last; who wants a tag on your jeans that scream “Feel free to bully my fat ass.”

I don’t know Husky Gawenda’s waist size, but I do know the kind of music he creates because it’s the same kind of music that Sub Pop has been pushing ever since they banked on Fleet Foxes. Maybe Poneman related to such lines as “I went walking in the woods today/I found a path/It led me astray.” (“The Woods”), imagining the big continent of Australia resembled the redwoods of the Northwest.

It’s not that I don’t subscribe to this kind of music. In fact, I’ve got a soft spot for anything remotely beautiful and sensitive within the confines of a folk-rock structure. Which is exactly what Husky delivers on Forever So. And depending on how cold and hard your own heart is, the results of Gawenda’s breathy croon can be a hit or miss affair.

“Hey man, do you want to hear a story about me?” begins “Animals & Freaks,” and before you’re given a chance to respond with the affirmative, Gawenda has already declared “Fuck you, I’m telling you my story anyway.” He’s assumed the role of an old man, telling you the tale of a chance encounter with a woman who he’s spent “three weeks in a cheap motel” before watching her depart with an eagle to go catch snakes in Mexico.

I swear to God I’m not making this up.

Yes, it’s the endlessly romantic and utterly unbelievable lyrics that make Forever So such an acquired taste. If only there were more moments like the wonderful opening “Tidal Wave,” which paints an account of a relationship within the claustrophobic cityscapes while Gawenda dreams of the day when it will all come tumbling down, leaving only him and his beau to enjoy the serenity of their love within the uncluttered landscape of natural beauty.

Now that’s more like it!

Sure, it’s a dynamic that may work better with members of the fairer sex, but it also demonstrates that there’s still a large proportion of empathetic types in this world that can relate to the sticky-sweet feelings that love provides. Forever So also shows that we’re still struggling to come up with the words to adequately describe those feelings.

Video: Husky – “The Woods”

Husky – The Woods [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

MP3: Husky – “Tidal Wave”

MP3: Husky – “History’s Door”

Audio: Husky – Forever So [FULL ALBUM STREAM]

Husky – Forever So [FULL ALBUM STREAM]

Beachwood Sparks – The Tarnished Gold

Beachwood SparksThe Tarnished Gold (Sub Pop)

After a decade long hiatus between studio albums, Beachwood Sparks returns with The Tarnished Gold, their latest attempt at channeling the ghosts of Laurel Canyon. Their country rock is tightly packaged through campfire picked guitars and a slue of pedal steels, just the way it should be. The arrangements are stacked on a wide pallet of psychedelic parlor tricks to make everything sound like it’s passed through a lysergic filter. The Tarnished Gold also features Beachwood Sparks’ most endearing feature: highly articulate harmonies that are a welcome addition when they’re presented.

It’s intriguing enough to warrant another listen, but the longer I spent in the band’s high altitude, the more I kept wondering if there was anything more to Beachwood Sparks than feeling lightheaded.

Those aforementioned harmonies are plenty nifty, but with lines like “A honeybee in a field of flower/Came to me in my darkest hour” (“Talk About Lonesome”) you have to wonder, “It took a decade to come up with that?” The lazy songwriting gets to the point where there are moments of unintentional parody, and it’s at this point that I gave up on trying to piece together anything more than “talented musicians” to Beachwood Sparks’ redeeming values.

Beyond the musical chops, I can’t tell you many other reasons why we needed to wait ten years for this understated yawner or why this band’s reunion is anything beyond the kick of confidence that came from having one of their songs featured on the cult hit, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

“Forget the song/That I’ve been singing” they sing on the opening track, and before the end of The Tarnished Gold, you’ve done exactly that.

Video: Beachwood Sparks – “Forget The Song”

MP3: Beachwood Sparks – “Forget The Song”

MP3: Beachwood Sparks – “Sparks Fly Again”