Father John Misty: Artist You Should Know

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I met Josh Tillman aka Father John Misty in September at the Fleet Foxes Santa Barbara Bowl show. He’d been playing drums for them since 2008 and recently left the band in order to preach the gospel of his solo project full-time.

To be honest, I didn’t know his work outside the band. But we shared a nice good conversation after the show at a little dive bar in downtown that prompted me to dig a little deeper and I was astonished to discover he’d released seven albums since 2003.

Shortly after our Santa Barbara encounter, “Fear Fun”, Father John Misty’s Sub Pop debut (out today! stream it here), awesomely found its way inside my inbox

I was expecting the simple guitar accompaniment, light percussion, sparse keys of his earlier work but I was in for a surprise. The sound is distinctly richer, yet the intricate subtleties that are Josh’s signature soundscape still abide. Check out “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings“,

Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings by subpop

It’s as if someone had turned on a switch and there appeared an invigorating cascade of radiance from where once a lone candlelight glowed…Well, that someone, I recently found out, is Jonathan Wilson, the producer/songwriter luminary who infused “Fear Fun with his auspicious brilliance.

Wilson’s track “Bohemia”, off his album “Gentle Spirit”, has found its way into every one of my setlists for the past few months and is the type of track that makes time stand still. I feel like he achieves a similar effect on “Fear Fun”.

From the mysteriously ominous, yet playful opening ballad  “Fun Times In Babylon” and its taunting “Look out Hollywood, here I come…” punchline; to the final confessional musings of “Everyman Needs a Companion” (I never liked the name Joshua, and I got tired of J…), the album is a sentimental pilgrimage with multiple intersections along the way, a few speed bumps, and an occasional road kill. Hope you find your salvation.

You can catch Father John Misty live on KCRW Friday, May 4 for a performance during Morning Becomes Eclectic. He plays later that night at the Natural History Museum as part of the First Friday series. I’ll be Djing alongside KCRW resident Anthony Valadez.

(And while I have your attention, Father John Misty and The Low Anthem appear alongside other greats including Cass McCombs and Bill Callahan on Mojo’s February covermount CD – The Songs Of Leonard Cohen Covered.)

— Valida