Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear

Father John Misty backstage

Father John Misty backstage

Los artistas, la música, esa viene y va. En ese transcurso, algunos dejan huellas indelebles, discos y canciones que son y seguirán siendo escuchadas por muchos años. Pienso esto dado que en el año 2008, cuando salió a la luz el debut epónimo de la banda norteamericana Fleet Foxes, el disco fue casi universalmente aclamado como uno de los mejores de dicho año. A mi parecer, la opinión era acertada, Fleet Foxes era un álbum que combinaba hermosas melodías con cantos sonoros para producir de relajación y meditación. Sin embargo, aparte de incluir sencillos contemporáneos como Your Protector o White Winter Hymnal en la memoria de mi celular, realmente no creo haber vuelto a escuchar dicho álbum, tal vez en algún punto circa 2011, cuando saliese Helplessness Blues, su segundo trabajo discográfico. J. Tillmantenía una carrera antes y después de haber formado parte de Fleet Foxes, y a decir verdad desconozco sus detalles más allá de este, su segundo trabajo como Father John Misty.

Father John Misty – Chateau Lobby # 4 (in C for Two Virgins)

La conexión con la banda de Seattle es innegable, la hubiera identificado aun sin haber llegado a leer los artículos que acompañaron el lanzamiento de I Love You, Honeybear. Los canticos corales que crean atmosfera son claramente identificables, si bien es cierto que Tillman se sale de la imagen de “tipos con barbas y camisas de cuadros que aparentan vivir toda su vida en la montaña” que presenta a Fleet Foxes al integrar elementos electrónicos dentro de su propuesta. Lejos de incomodar, los sintetizadores y drum machines pintan un bonito retrato a lo largo del tiempo de duración. Un retrato que está muy bien ejemplificado en la problemática portada del disco, la cual en su versión vinilo traía a los personajes en forma de diorama, los cuales al ser empacados terminaron dañando el acetato y obligando a la disquera a recompensar a sus fans con una copia con sonido no alterado.

La personalidad de Tillman se filtra no solo en su música, sino que su voz hace que sus letras sean entendibles, y desde las mismas se filtra su peculiar sentido del humor, un tanto oscuro y lleno de ironía. “Me encanta el tipo de mujeres que pueden caminar sobre un hombre, me refiero a que lo hagan como una maldita banda marchante”, canta Tillman en The Night Josh Tillman came to Our Apartment, y su humor se sintetiza más aun en Bored in the USA, una alusión a Bruce Springsteen y al mismo tiempo a la decadencia del estilo de vida norteamericano.

Father John Misty – Bored in the USA (En vivo en el show de Letterman)

No puedo decir a ciencia cierta si llegaré a escuchar I Love You Honeybear una vez que diciembre termine con este año. Probablemente su ventaja por sobre Fleet Foxes sea que acá no existen canciones que sobresalgan entre las demás (como era el caso de Your Protector, Mykonos o White Winter Hymnal, aunque no de Helplessness Blues), y que cuando escuchar a Father John Misty, me vea obligado a sentir la experiencia del disco completo. Más allá de los discos indelebles, los cuales solamente el tiempo los ira diferenciando, I Love You Honeybear se suma como uno de los discos más agradables de este 2015.

Father John Misty - I Love You, Honeybear

3.5/5

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Eddie Vedder – Ukulele Songs (2011)

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With Lightning Bolt, the tenth studio album by Seattle band Pearl Jam coming out in just a few weeks, it’s just appropriate that I was asked to review the second solo album of the band’s lead singer, Mr. Eddie Vedder. However talented he might be, it’s curious to note how his creative effort has greatly been focused on his day job band. It wasn’t until Sean Penn asked him to help him with the soundtrack to the excellent 2007 movie Into the Wild, that he released an entire album without his mates behind him. Then came Backspacer, and in between that and Lightning Bolt, Vedder released yet another solo album.

And that’s how we come across Ukelele Songs, a very self-explicable name for an album, because that’s exactly what we find here, 16 tracks with not much else than Eddie covering old songs from the 30s-40s with nothing else than his voice and one of those little guitars used by Hawaiians. And therefore, we must not really judge Ukelele Songs as the work of a singer-songwriter, as the work of an artist who is getting bored and restricted by his day job band and wants a silent retreat. No, Eddie Vedder just had an idea in his mind, decided to take action and record it. And maybe what he initially intended was to simply share this set of songs among his closest friends, however, it’s great that he treats us fans just like that.

And no, this is no essential record to understand Pearl Jam or 90s music or the grunge scene. No, this is simply a treat given to us by this man, just like those Christmas singles bands are used to release; they’re far from essential, but it’s always a joy to see them around every year. No real song stands out from this collection, since most of them are less than 3 minutes long, and therefore, the most notable cases would be those guest appearances by the likes of Glen Hansard on Sleepless Nights and Cat Power on Tonight You Belong to Me. And if I had to choose one among them, I would have probably done the same as the band and chosen Sleeping by Myself, a track included on their upcoming album.

Fast Tracks: Neil Young – After the Gold Rush

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If you’re an audiophile, like I consider myself to be, then it’s quite possible that you’re familiar with a term like “listening projects”. Being the music universe such an amazingly big and diversified place, it’s sometimes hard to choose where to move. Even when having amassed a big collection of music, it’s sometimes hard to figure out what to revisit and listen back. Obviously, lists are one great tool, especially those developed by a group of writers, such as the Pitchfork’s editors, who by now have chosen a 100 albums for each of the last 4 decades (60s just got a 200 songs version). Back in 2004, the process started with a list of 100 of the 70s most essential records. Scrolling through the list, I can count only around 20 albums I lack, and therefore, decided that was a good starting place.

The list starts us off with Brian Eno’s 1977’s Before and After Science, a great record, an a perfect example of how something might have been overlooked due to my collectionist/accumulationist tendencies. The record guarantees an entry of its own, but this entry deals with another great one. Legend Neil Young is probably my favorite singer-songwriter. His guitar beats Dylan’s pretentious lyrics by a mile, and on album’s like decade turning After the Gold Rush, emotions overflow. Simply put, the guy’s a genius. He started a run of classic albums in the 60s with Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, and all through the 70s, starting with this, Neil got one good record after another. Even though his later work suffers from inconsistency, he managed to pull out a truly competent record, with last year’s Psychedelic Pill.

Now, talking about After the Gold Rush, wish I believe was partly made as a soundtrack to a movie never made. As I said on my welcoming post, I’ve stopped documenting myself on the album’s background before writing each entry. Still I can tell this is a step away from his previous effort. The only real rocker here is Southern Man, and what a hell of a rocker. Probably the record’s best known track, a tale of slavery, a characterization of the South, that Southern Rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd famously called back on one of their most memorable songs, Sweet Home Alabama. The guitar here gives me goosebumps, and makes my back feel whiplashed.

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Then we have the lovetorn ballads, like opener Tell Me Why (“I am lonely but you can free me all in the way that you smile”), Only Love can Break Your Heart (supposedly written about the breaking up of guitar player Stephen Stills relationship with Joni Mitchell), and probably my favorite track, an overlooked song on Young’s repertoire, the wonderful Birds (“When you see me fly away with you, shadow on the things you know).

Bottom line, the whole album is great, from start to finish, and it’s only 35 minuetes long, so there’s really no reason on why you should not welcome my recommendation, and who knows, maybe you as well might become a Neil Young fan and further adventure into his vast discography, which holds other gems like the before mentioned Everybody Knows…, Harvest, On the Beach or Rust Never Sleeps.

Plus, you can listen to the whole thing through Youtube: