Geez, Golden Plains must’ve left its mark; it’s been three months! In the typically colloquial Aussie manner, “How ya goin’?”
I’m Playing Catch up here, aren’t I? Three months. It’s a touch alright. Clearly, I went walkabout. That another thing Aussies like to say.
Due to my prolonged absence, I thought it prudent to split my song choices into three separate posts. We’ve got some absolute stunners in store. Part 2, based loosely on my musical discoveries in May, has got one of the finest track lists ever compiled on here. And Part 3 isn’t half bad either.
But don’t worry. Don’t skip ahead. There’s plenty to like right here. She’ll be a ripper.
Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
First cab off the rank is Father John Misty with his good albeit scattered LP Pure Comedy, which was released in April. Following the crazy expectations set by his sophomore outing I Love You, Honeybear, Josh Tillman seemed determined here to keep pushing himself towards even more grandiose heights.
Unfortunately the result is uneven. The string arrangements and piano cause the album’s long middle section to drift. But thankfully, Tillman’s voice is still as beautiful and crisp as ever and his lyrics drip with his trademark sarcasm and wit.
All of this is clearly evident on ‘Pure Comedy’, the melancholy title track that covers religion, love, technology and man, and shows off his range of talent. It’s the best track off the album and a good taster for those unfamiliar with FJM.
Real Estate – Darling
A week later, we were treated to Real Estate’s fourth LP, In Mind. And much in the same vein as Pure Comedy, I found myself a tad disappointed, simply because it couldn’t live up to their previous album, Atlas.
If you cast your mind back to late 2014, you may just find, among millions of other fragments, my article that named Atlas my favorite album of the year, a conviction I stand firmly behind (something I can’t say for every music choice I’ve made…Limp Bizkit anyone?). It’s a brilliant and flawless album.
The same can’t be said for In Mind. I can’t pinpoint it but the album just doesn’t feel whole, like Dougie from Twin Peaks. It’s as though the album is content to flirt with greatness, to have it within touching distance but choosing to settle for a front row view looking on.
However, it’s still very enjoyable. It may not have the standout tracks of Atlas but it commands respect and I can see myself enjoying it more over time.
Wild Nothing – Shadow
Given my appreciation for Real Estate and the four year wait for In Mind, I got my lo-fi, fuzzy guitar fix from bands like Yo La Tengo, Beach Fossils (see part 3), Wild Nothing & DIIV.
From this fine crop, Wild Nothing’s ‘Shadow’ is a standout. Jack Tatum’s soft voice swirls around against a backdrop of lovely guitars – both acoustic and electric – and delicate strings that add to the atmosphere.
Car Seat Headrest – Oh! Starving
One of the things I did while not blogging was watch 13 Reasons Why, the controversial Netflix show you couldn’t avoid. I’ll skip my commentary (if you want it, this CNN review pretty much sums it up), suffice to say that it was addictive and engrossing.
Among the things the show got right was the music, which featured an eclectic choice of plaintive, college dorm room tunes. I knew a fair few: ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ by Joy Division, ‘Into the Black’ by Chromatics, ‘The Killing Moon’ by Echo & the Bunnymen & ‘A 1000 Times’ by Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam all feature prominently.
But the soundtrack had a handful of interesting tracks that I later sought out. Three or four stuck, including this great, noisy, doo-woppy number by Car Seat Headrest.
Lost Under Heaven – The Great Longing
‘The Great Longing’ by the British band Lost Under Heaven was another find off 13 Reasons Why. Set to brooding piano and acoustic guitar, the song’s real strength lies in the beautiful male-female vocal harmonies.
As always, you can check out nearly all the songs I’ve written about on this Spotify playlist: