Live music galleries: Father John Misty [2012]

(I got the idea for this series while sifting through the ‘piles’ of digital photos on my laptop. It occurred to me to share some of these great pics from some of my favourite concert sets from time to time. Like my ‘Vinyl love’ series, these posts will be more photos than words but that doesn’t mean I won’t welcome your thoughts and comments. And of course, until I get around to the next one, I invite you to peruse my ever-growing list of concerts of page.)

Father John Misty @ Bluesfest

Artist: Father John Misty
When: July 11th, 2012
Where: River Stage, Ottawa Bluesfest, Ottawa
Context: Josh Tillman left his post as drummer for Fleet Foxes in 2012 and released his debut album under the moniker Father John Misty in April. I loved the psych folk extravaganza of “Fear fun” (and still consider it my favourite of his albums) but wasn’t at all expecting how great he’d be when I saw him live three months later. His touring band was also very good but unfortunately, I could not find out much about them online (and so could only provide the names of the few I could identify). Josh Tillman was particularly hilarious between songs, spouting random zingers, like when he pointed out a volunteer holding a question mark placard denoting “Information” and quipped that he loved the kid’s existential sign. It was a short set in all but I’ve seen him twice more since and am looking forward to seeing him a fourth time this coming weekend.
Point of reference song:
I’m writing a novel

Josh Tillman aka Father John Misty
Jeffertitti Moon and Benji Lysaght
unknown touring drummer for Father John Misty
Josh Tillman and Benji Lysaght
unknown touring guitarist and keyboard player for Father John Misty
Josh Tillman on the tambourine

Best tunes of 1991: #18 Primus “Tommy the cat”

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How many of you folks use Winamp? I ask this because I know you’re all still out there.

For those that don’t know what I’m talking about, Winamp was/is a media player that predated iTunes by a good four years. It was widely used in the advent of MP3s and during the rise of Napster because it was free and easy to use. It has its diehards that just refused to switch over and were quite vocal about it when the flashier competitors appeared. I had thought it had been decommissioned but it appears it may still be in existence. I’m sure the diehards can confirm or deny either way.

I mention Winamp here because even back when I still used the program, I was very serious about properly tagging the metadata for my music and I always found it funny that there was a genre tag called “Primus”. That right there goes a long way to show how unique Primus is, the band and their sound. Indeed, Primus is blend of metal and prog and the weirdness of Zappa, and yet none of these at the same time, their sound really typified by the spotlight on Claypool’s crazy slap bass, and his oddball vocals and lyrics.

Bassist/vocalist Les Claypool formed the band back in 1984 but the classic lineup didn’t solidify until 1988 when guitarist Larry “Ler” Lalonde and drummer Tim “Herb” Alexander joined in the fun. I’m not sure how they managed it but they got a deal with a major label and on it, released their second album, “Sailing the seas of cheese”.

“Tommy the cat” was the second single off this album and my introduction to the band. It features another unique artist in the imitable Tom Waits, who gives voice to the character of the song’s title. But before we get there, the song’s drum marching band intro gets our attention and leads us right into the aforementioned bass forward sound that is only accentuated by screaming guitars. I particularly remember one afternoon spent working on a theatre set and, when the teaching supervisor was out of the room, us slipping this song on to the tape player. And a bass playing friend of mine got right into that bass solo. You know the one I’m talking about it. You love it.

…But before you get to checking it out below. Props must go out to Aaron over at Keepsmealive, who mailed me a copy of “Animals should not try to act like people” a few months ago. It just showed up in the mail after we had a discussion about it on his blog and I actually hadn’t gotten around to watching the DVD of Primus’s videos until sitting down to write this post. But I slipped it on last night and watching all of these brought back a ton of memories. I actually got to see a few I hadn’t seen before, like the one for “My name is mud”. So cheers dude and to the rest of you, enjoy the video and the tune.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1991 list, click here.

Best tunes of 2011: #26 Gotye “Somebody that I used to know”

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My memory is super fuzzy about how I came across this one but I remember watching the video quite a bit on AUX TV during my morning routine in 2011. So it might have been there that my interest was piqued and I was coaxed to check out the rest of the album, “Making mirrors”.

Gotye (pronounced phonetically, as you would say the French name “Gauthier”) is the stage name for Wouter De Backer, a Belgian-born Australian with a Dutch name. (I know, right? The man screams globalization.) He is the drummer of an indie pop group from Australia called The Basics, an outfit I did check out after getting into Gotye’s music, a number of years ago, but their material never grabbed me and I have never gone back for a second go. I also have never gone back to check out Gotye’s previous two solo efforts and since he announced in 2014 that there would be no more Gotye music and made good on that promise, “Making mirrors” is the only album I know. However, it really is a great one and worth a look for those out there that only know the single. It is super eclectic, traversing many sounds and referencing multiple genres and musical eras, and yet, surprisingly cohesive, drawn altogether by Gotye’s compelling vocals.

Its sales were of course bolstered by this one monster hit. “Somebody that I used to know” was a smash the world over, making Gotye and New Zealand songwriter Kimbra, whose vocals feature prominently in the song, household names. Very quickly, the song became a favourite to cover by many artists. In fact in Canada, a version by Walk off the Earth rivals the original in popularity. The video they made for their cover shows all five members playing the song on one guitar and it went viral, breaking the Burlington band into the mainstream. It’s so big here that I once got into heated discussion with some people that swore theirs was the original.

But back to that original.

Gotye’s “Somebody that I used to know” starts off quiet and sexy, a little like Edwyn Collin’s “A girl like you”, a little like whispering in your lover’s ear to wake her in the middle of the night. Interesting then, that it’s a break up song. Or rather a song that is weeks or months removed from a break up, wondering at how two people can be so close only to be total strangers.

“But you didn’t have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing
And I don’t even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough”

It is right about this point in the song that Gotye lets loose some Sting worthy power vocals and the quiet becomes all power and passion. And just when you thought you knew what the song was about, the point of view and vocals are shifted to Kimbra and she too is quiet and composed at first. Then, they both become all fiery and alive. The instrumentation, meanwhile, mirrors the emotions of the vocals, utilizing samples of jazz guitars and dressing them up in electronic beats and xylophone melodies. To sum up: quite lovely.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2011 list, click here.