Father John Misty: Folk Rock, Laurel Canyon-Style

I only clicked on Father John Misty’s “I’m Writing a Novel” when it was featured on KCRW because I’m writing a novel and was tickled by the song name. Little did I know that Father John Misty is the alter-ego and solo project of Josh Tillman, former drummer of Fleet Foxes. His record “Fear Fun” is the product of driving down the coast actually writing a novel, living in a “spider-shack” in Laurel Canyon, taking a lot of shrooms and a general process of losing it, going off the rails, having a total breakdown. There are several references to the voices and prophecies of a monkey companion.

Case in point:
I ran down the road, pants down to my knees
Screaming “please come help me, that Canadian shaman gave a little too much to me!”
And I’m writing a novel because it’s never been done before

I don’t know why I like songs about insanity so much. My other favorites are Harvey Danger’s Flagpole Sitta and Queen’s I’m Going Slightly Mad. Maybe because sometimes my own brain feels like a shaking pot on a stove about to overflow.

This album is steeped in that Los Angeles insanity, one of alternating cloaking darkness and blindingly bright desert sun, weird parties in the backyard, paranoia and aloofness and togetherness and chaos, all in a drug-fueled blender. [If you don’t know what I’m talking about, and hell if I know actually because I have never lived in Los Angeles, see the above video starring the wonderful Aubrey Plaza, or perhaps David Lynch’s Crazy Clown Time video.]

Folk-tinged music tends toward the forlorn and bittersweet, so it’s refreshing to hear it fun and full of humor. Tillman’s wails in that resonant Fleet Foxes fashion to the harmonies of andante acoustic guitar and piano. Yet you are reminded clearly of modern Los Angeles rather than some lonely backwoods past.

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