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Father John Misty

Father John Misty Writes Civilization's Obituary with 'Pure Comedy'

Music ReviewEzra CarpenterComment

There will be no casual audience for Father John Misty’s latest studio album Pure Comedy. Any time appropriate for listening to the album will not be spontaneous, brief, or passive. The headiness associated with any Father John Misty release is multiplied here by an unverifiable amount of times over and any recommendation of Pure Comedy for listening should be accompanied by an obligatory warning: this album is not a comforting experience. It would be nice to have the romantic jest and the lush sounds of I Love You, Honeybear (Sub Pop, 2015) rehashed as a therapeutic remedy to 2016. But that is not what we need and that is not what Father John Misty is interested in. As we toil with the consequences of an election year gone awry and ready ourselves for the consequences of upcoming developments, how can we approach art, life, or anything with leisure?

On Pure Comedy, Father John Misty (née Josh Tillman) tackles everything between political antichrists, the digital human experience, heavy-handed religiosity, and warring ideologies. The album is simultaneously a self-interrogation and an interrogation of the broader public’s role in enabling the current state of the union. But the questions that Tillman dares to ask are amorphously oblique and daunting. “Has commentary been more lucid than anybody else?” the protagonist asks on single “Ballad of the Dying Man.” Tillman’s choice of subject matter is certainly ambitious, but it is appropriate and well-deserved for him to take on. He dares to confront the most difficult questions looming over the nation, forgoing an altruistic or omnipotent approach for one that is genuinely vulnerable, concerned, and ultimately limited by his humanity.

Tillman’s signature backhanded humor is almost exclusively sarcastic on Pure Comedy, in contrast to I Love You, Honeybear’s facetious moments. Pure Comedy focuses a critical lens on modern society’s cultural practice, socio-political choices, and value set. “Bedding Taylor Swift / Every night inside the Oculus Rift / After mister and the missus finish dinner and the dishes” goes the opening lines to “Total Entertainment Forever.” Tillman’s criticisms are unsparing and pessimistic, a fitting match to the balladic tone of the album’s instrumentals. Melancholic pianos form the foundations of nearly every song on Pure Comedy, achieving a quality comparable to any Carole King-James Taylor collaboration on “Ballad of the Dying Man” and a Billie Joel theatricality on “Total Entertainment Forever.”

The album becomes a manifesto at its longest and most epic moments. “Leaving LA” and “So I’m Growing Old on Magic Mountain” clock in at 14 and 10 minutes respectively. The songs take listeners on a real-time tour of Tillman’s disgruntled headspace as he commutes from his home to the highway and convey the unsatisfactory and fleeting experiences of life in Los Angeles. In these songs, listeners will find themselves introspectively protracted. They are the negative spaces to an album densely packed with lyrics that offer more questions than answers concerning humanity's current condition, but not for a lack of trying to ascertain resolution. 

Through Pure Comedy's satire, Tillman does his best to offer solutions to the world’s problems, but he does not pretend to know the answers to all of them. He has no qualms about identifying societal shortcomings and challenging listeners to question whether or not they have been complicit with the regression of society’s development. He laments the ways in which our aspirations have incurred woeful externalities, telling Zane Lowe “When the internet came out it was like, this is the truest form of democracy that human beings have ever invented, this is gonna be the utopia. And you fast forward and it’s pornography.” Pure Comedy is a sobering experience and a memorandum outlining the faults in our current condition as a society and species. For some, this album will reek of an artist taking himself too seriously, but this is a gravitas that deserves applause. When was the last time you put yourself on the line by voicing your complaints? Did you try to solve them afterwards too?

Father John Misty Evokes James Taylor on Second 'Pure Comedy' Single "Ballad of the Dying Man"

New MusicEzra CarpenterComment

Having once cut a festival set short to share his pessimistic assessment of the world with his audience, Father John Misty now continues his line of questioning more musically, asking, "And had he successively beaten back the rising tide / Of idiots, dilettantes, and fools?"

"The Ballad of the Dying Man" follows "Pure Comedy" as the second single from forthcoming album Pure Comedy (due out April 7 via Sub Pop) and narrates the death of a critical man and how his commentary and analysis of the world and its politics fade into obscurity. The song's subtle instrumental pairs piano melodies and acoustic guitar rhythm as well as any Carole King-James Taylor collaboration while Josh Tillman's lyricism provokes a reassessment of cultural values and political practice. Listen below.

Father John Misty Announces 'Pure Comedy' LP, Releases Music Video and Short Film

Music News, New MusicWeston PaganoComment

What do Donald Trump, Pepe the Frog, and the cruel, cruel miracle of birth all have in common? A six-plus minute music video from Father John Misty, of course.

Waxing philosophical on the existential absurdity of the human condition as only Joshua Tillman can, "Pure Comedy" combines idiosyncratic observationalism with soulful detachment in a way that is simultaneously earnest and composed.

Tillman takes the obligatory stabs at politics (Where did they find these goons they elected to rule them? / What makes these clowns they idolize so remarkable?) and religion (They worship themselves yet they're totally obsessed / With risen zombies, celestial virgins, magic tricks, these unbelievable outfits), but isn't afraid to start at the very beginning (The comedy of man starts like this / Our brains are way too big for our mothers' hips).

So appropriately his forthcoming record begins with this meandering title track. Pure Comedy is due out April 7 via Sub Pop, and so far it sounds every bit of the quasi-preachy-satirical masterpiece you would expect. Tillman explains,

Pure Comedy is the story of a species born with a half-formed brain. The species’ only hope for survival, finding itself on a cruel, unpredictable rock surrounded by other species who seem far more adept at this whole thing (and to whom they are delicious), is the reliance on other, slightly older, half-formed brains. This reliance takes on a few different names as their story unfolds, like ‘love,’ ‘culture,’ ‘family,’ etc. Over time, and as their brains prove to be remarkably good at inventing meaning where there is none, the species becomes the purveyor of increasingly bizarre and sophisticated ironies. These ironies are designed to help cope with the species’ loathsome vulnerability and to try and reconcile how disproportionate their imagination is to the monotony of their existence.

Something like that.

The music video with its aforementioned eclectic cast features cartoons from Matthew Daniel Siskin and is accompanied by a 25 minute companion film directed by Tillman and Grant James. See both, along with the album art (also by Siskin) and tracklist, below.

father john misty pure comedy.gif

Pure Comedy

  1. Pure Comedy
  2. Total Entertainment Forever
  3. Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution
  4. Ballad of the Dying Man
  5. Birdie
  6. Leaving LA
  7. A Bigger Paper Bag
  8. When the God of Love Returns There’ll Be Hell to Pay
  9. Smoochie
  10. Two Wildly Different Perspectives
  11. The Memo
  12. So I’m Growing Old on Magic Mountain
  13. In Twenty Years of So

See more by Father John Misty here.

Dank Meme Alert! The Father, John Misty Wants That "Real Love Baby"

New MusicSean McHughComment
Many don't know this, but Father John Misty actually was CBS' first choice to host the Late Show. He graciously declined when they told him he was not allowed to live-tweet during the show.

Many don't know this, but Father John Misty actually was CBS' first choice to host the Late Show. He graciously declined when they told him he was not allowed to live-tweet during the show.

Blessed be the Father up high above. The benevolent lover of you and me, sardonic saint of all far below, the Father John Misty has a bevy of songs to bestow. “Why not?” is his word, but we know that he must. He knows not why he does, but it shall be known as word. The Father, John Misty has songs that must be heard. Praise him on high, but especially online – take to your Twitter, and troll til the night – inform the masses of “rejected” Toyota Prius promos, a House of Cards theme song, and the immaculately conceived “Real Love Baby.”

Forgive me, I must have blacked out. All the preceding nonsense aside, if you’re not a Father John Misty devotee such as myself, then you may not realize that despite the I Love You, Honeybear victory lap slowly coming to a close, Farmer Jah Misery is still cranking out satirical songs and creating commentary that would liken a modern day Oscar Wilde (settle down bibliophiles, it's just for dramatic effect). Realistically, Father John is more like a modern day analogue to Henry Chinaski, but I digress.

A mere handful of hours ago, Father John Misty released a tantalizingly playful new track, “Real Love Baby,” on his soundcloud page after releasing indie-folk skewering “Prius Commercial” track. “Real Love Baby,” is kind of remarkable upon first listen - despite being on tour for the better part of a year and a half now, Father John Misty has released one of his most hook-y and pleasant psych-pop track to date. A stroke of classic Father John brilliance, its safe to say that this single is likely to be FJM’s soundcloud “subtweet” answer to his “Prius Commercial” released the day before.

Who is Father John subtweeting (or subclouding), you ask?

 I know its likely to make me look more of a total dunce than I already do in everyday life, I would surmise that FJM is placing “Real Love Baby” out into the ether as a subtle assertion to the indie world that while he enjoys tooling around with the tired tropes and proclivities of indie music, he can still make better music than most despite doing it in jest, and “Real Love Baby” is living proof of such a fact.

All that being said, I realize my inference of opinion is about as unbiased as Trump saying Trump Tower has the best tacos, but that’s beside the point. The real point of my writing this is to inform those of you that have yet to hear the good word of the Father, John Misty that the message of the day is here to stay, and it's “Real Love Baby.”


Has Father John Misty Lost His Humor With Lana Del Rey's "Freak"?

New MusicSean McHughComment

Grab the hotsauce from your nightstand and pour it down your throat, because Lana Del Rey has a banging new 10 minute music video / tour-de-farce. Hipster lore and teenage phantasm reach critical mass on Lana Del Rey’s “Freak,” off her 2015 release, Honeymoon.

Sarcasm aside, the video features the misanthropic matrimony between two of music’s most aloof artists - Lana Del Rey and Father John Misty. A video sure to be misinterpreted by throngs of YouTube-ing teenyboppers, “Freak,” offers a glimpse into the pseudo-story of a cult chieftain (Lana Del Rey) and her ardent disciple (Josh Tillman AKA Father John Misty ) as they blur the lines between liturgy and carnal desire.

An unwarranted combination, the pairing represents a potentially troublesome career choice for the Father, whose career prior to his “star” turn in “Freak” was predicated mostly on skewering the life of the pseudo-ultra-apathy of “indie” pop queens such as Del Rey. Its perplexing as to why Misty would agree to involve himself in something that seems so ludicrously serious – not in the sense of importance, but rather self-perception – though, perhaps the ambiguity of Misty’s tenure throughout the video is his ultimate act of satire.

There are scenes of sacramental exchanges of acid tabs, a presumably unholy red concoction, and sultry corporeal cavorting, as doyen and disciple traipse through a hallucinatory spectacle that is Topanga, California. Supposedly inspired by Tillman’s past experience with acid (purportedly, at a Taylor Swift concert in Australia), the music video portion ends with Tillman and Del Rey dancing in thick smoke, holding hands and walking into the void.

Following the music video portion, the remaining 5-ish minutes are filled with the aforementioned harem of women swimming in a pool while “Clair de Lune” plays, eventually joined by Del Rey and Misty. Is there a more divine purpose to the video? Who knows? Is wild speculation and purveying ones own inaccurate notions abound likely? Yes. Either way, the video is a spectacle in and of itself, much to its own bemusement, and 10-minute time allotment. Here's hoping Father John Misty has reached peak prankster and not descended to half-assing apathist like his newfound contemporary. 

The Top 30 Records of 2015

Music ListTransverso MediaComment
2015 year end photo.png

3. Beach House - Thank Your Lucky Stars

Thank Your Lucky Stars acts as both an extension of and pivot point for Beach House’s career as a whole. Many may want the band to actively change in a progressive way, but the band chooses to continually broaden their sound in the most familiar and microscopic ways possible instead. Perhaps one of the best integration of all five preceding albums, you hear the metronome, drums are crisper, individual instruments are audible, and Victoria Legrand’s lyrics are unexpectedly discernible at certain points. It's what works for them, and its afforded Beach House the ability to carve out a dream-pop legacy (and avoid becoming a caricature) on their own terms.


2. Majical Cloudz - Are You Alone?

Are You Alone? takes off where the Montreal duo’s preceding Impersonator left off; a paradox of bare-bones, minimalist soundscapes ebbing with lush depth that are somehow simultaneously tranquilizing and uplifting. Welsh’s immaculately vulnerable monologues and unflinching vocals are gently bold, and they drive their synth lullabies forward with severe care. It's Welsh at his most overbearing, and yet his tight grip is irresistible. Calculatedly organic, passionately controlled, it’s a journal reading in a dream.



1. Tame Impala - Currents

Currents is the most adventurous, interesting, and well-produced collection of songs Kevin Parker has created thus far, sitting atop Tame Impala's discography as the most mature and painstakingly crafted iteration in their twisted psych-pop world. From the lush synth tracks that bubble through the mix to his effortless, washed out vocals, every sound is rendered with the utmost care. Currents proves Parker is unable to stick with a certain sound, forever looking for new ways to evolve his ideas and push his project beyond what was expected when Innerspeaker first hit the shelves.


Hear Father John Misty's The Velvet Underground-Inspired Cover of Ryan Adams' The Smiths-Inspired Cover of Taylor Swift

New MusicSean McHughComment

Taylor Swift releases her final “country” (a generous description) album, Red, in 2012, spends two years time doing whatever precocious twenty-something mega stars do, and then releases her pop magnum opus, 1989, in October of 2014.

Less than a year following 1989's release, Ryan Adams confirms in early August 2015 that he planned to record covers of Swift’s entire 1989 album in the style of The Smiths. He promptly releases the record on September 21, 2015.

A mere four hours later, the madcap troubadour, Father John Misty, releases his own homage to Adams’ homage, in the style of The Velvet Underground, as hinted by the famous Andy Warhol The Velvet Underground & Nico cover art released with the two singles.

Misty described the cover of “Blank Space” as his "interpretation from the classic Ryan Adams album '1989,'" and released an additional cover of “Welcome to New York” shortly after.

What can only be assumed as yet another undertaking in Father John Misty’s continued quest to skirt the line of entertainment satire and pure lunacy, as well as perplex the masses actually works as a serviceable fusion of Swift’s lyrics, Adams’ idea, Lou Reed melodies, and of course, Misty’s trenchant panache.

UPDATE: The tracks have been taken down following some sort of dreamstate epiphany from FJM himself:

I had a very strange dream that I abruptly woke up from around 3am early this morning. I was crab-walking around a...

Posted by Father John Misty on Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Watch Father John Misty Share His Enduring Love for Josh Tillman in New Music Video

New MusicSean McHughComment

The ever esoteric, but endlessly engaging Father John Misty has released the music video for “The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apt.” off his sophomoric (and sardonic) effort I Love You, Honeybear.

The video opens with two iterations of Josh Tillman in a bar - one charming and debonair, the other detached and unencumbered. As the video progresses, the two Joshes partake in a variety of vacuous hipster rom-com tropes - pool swimming, drug sharing, and three part “Silent Night” harmonies - leading up to the most irreverent of narcissistic embraces.

Witness the unholy coupling for yourself below:

I Love You, Honeybear is out now on Sub Pop.

Transverso's 2015 Lollapalooza Playlist

Music ListTransverso MediaComment

With Lollapalooza looming large we've compiled the 30 best tracks from the best artists you can expect to see at the festival this year. With artists from Paul McCartney to Shakey Graves, Chicago's Grant Park is the place to be this weekend, and you can prepare yourself by clicking play below or on our Spotify profile!

Relive Bonnaroo with our two playlists for that festival, take the "Music Festival Name or Type Illness Quiz" on Buzzfeed here, and if that's not enough, you can always turn on our 2015 Summer Playlist.

Listen to Transverso's 2015 Summer Playlist

Music ListTransverso MediaComment

Summer has officially started, which means you need a summer playlist! We've taken the responsibility of compiling 20 of the best tunes to come out so far this year that can serve as the perfect soundtrack to all of your typical summer activities, whether it be driving with the top down, relaxing by the pool, hanging out at a family reunion, or feeding gummy bears to Belle & Sebastian. Check it out below.