Sights and Sounds
by Mike Evans
FATHER JOHN MISTY — Fear Fun
THE GOOD: He’s not really a man of the cloth and this isn’t his actual solo debut, but former Fleet Foxes drummer Joshua Tillman (Father John) gives us something very worthwhile.
THE BAD: Tillman’s distinct voice was a big part of the Fleet Foxes’ harmonies on their first two albums. How will one of America’s finest bands sound without him?
THE NITTY GRITTY: Fear Fun isn’t too far removed from the Foxes’ style (producer Phil Ek even swung by to mix the thing), but there’s a definite shift in attitude as Tillman breaks out of his somber shell. Despite the record’s title, the guy seems to be having more fun these days, and he’s certainly open to new vibes. “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” is just shy of flat-out rocking while “Only Son of the Ladiesman” swaggers down the Sunset Strip just after dark.
“Tee Pees 1-12” is a joyful bit of country rock. “Now I’m Learning to Love the War” waltzes as it philosophizes about the staggering amount of natural resources we record collectors use. All the shipping/The vinyl/The cellophane lining/The high gloss/The tape and the gear. Yikes!
BUY IT?: Surely.
EMORYHOUSE — The Slideshow Effect
THE GOOD: Art project turned legitimate musical duo Memoryhouse is off to a sure-footed start.
THE BAD: Effect finds the Toronto pair getting comfortable with their surroundings. Don’t expect a flawless set.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Comprised of multi-instrumentalist/composer Evan Abeele and vocalist Denise Nouvion, Memoryhouse started out with the sole purpose of making music to accompany Nouvion’s photos at exhibits. Now priorities have switched; the lead singer’s photos gracing the album’s sleeve. The two are still formulating their sound; Effect is sort of split right down the middle. Half the cuts are upbeat slices of indie rock boasting dedicated backbeats and fetching melodies. The other tracks are more dreamy and ethereal. Whatever style is more compelling depends upon your overall mood.
There’s a retro vibe running through a lot of these songs, recalling the early 90s heyday of accessible Cocteau Twins and all those atmospheric shoegazer bands (My Bloody Valentine, Lush, Curve, etc.). Plus these two hold their own against contemporaries such as School of Seven Bells or Asobe Seksu. There’s room for improvement, but you know this band will eventually get to where they need to be.
BUY IT?: Yep.
BETH JEANS HOUGHTON AND THE HOOVES OF DESTINY — Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose
THE GOOD: Young British folkie Beth Jeans Houghton unleashes her grandiose debut.
THE BAD: Cellophane Nose can be overwhelming – so many sounds, so many styles. But the record only grows more gripping as it plays on.
THE NITTY GRITTY: The album almost defies categorization. At its core, Nose is a rolling energized folk set, complete with the usual array of acoustic guitars and banjos. But Houghton goes for something much bigger than stark intimate performances. She colors most of these pieces with brash horn arrangements and sweeping strings, not to mention the occasional operatic chorus or bold marching rhythm. And we end up with a cross between Mumford and Sons and Florence and the Machine, with some gothic flavors and drama spread across the top; highly theatrical roots music.
All that sounds like a mad jumble? It is! But somehow, Houghton and her crew keep everything from toppling over and turning into chaos. Cellophane Nose is actually an emotional rush that’s quite lovely in spots; tiny pockets of tranquility amongst all the fervor.
BUY IT?: Oh yeah.
NEW RELEASES — CD
AESOP ROCK — Skelethon
DIRTY PROJECTORS — Swing Low Magellan
MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS — Electra Heart
P.O.D. — Murdered Love
NEW RELEASES — DVD
AMERICAN REUNION with James Biggs
and Sean William Scott
BEING FLYNN with Robert DeNiro and Paul Dano