Father John Misty - "Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution"

Father John tackles the modern age and wins. It’s hard to write an anti-consumerist tune and not come off as monumentally preachy, but he just about does it.

Chris Ingalls: Pure Comedy is a giant leap forward for Father John Misty, not just in terms of his already high "mystique" factor; it also shows his songwriting prowess growing by leaps and bounds. The piano-led compositions and analog studio techniques show a maturity that falls somewhere between Brian Wilson, Randy Newman and Harry Nilsson, all major-seventh orchestrations and heart-on-sleeve vocalizing. Indie rock isn't supposed to be this sophisticated. Thank goodness Josh Tillman is here to break conventions. [9/10]

Adriane Pontecorvo: The tune comes second to the message here: a reminder of the world we’re heading toward, barren, burning, hostile, and our own damn fault. It’s scathing in its indictment of mankind’s current refusal to shape up, but there’s a kernel of humor in here as Father John Misty gives a shout out to the stubbornness of human nature. "There are some visionaries among us / Developing some products / To aid us in our struggle to survive / On this godless rock that refuses to die," he sings to close out his tale of post-apocalypse. I think he’s made his point. [7/10]

Ian Rushbury: Father John tackles the modern age and wins. It’s hard to write an anti-consumerist tune and not come off as monumentally preachy, but he just about does it. “Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution” combines the “Instant Karma” drum sound with an early '70s Elton John piano part to great effect. A pretty vocal melody belies the gravitas of the lyric (“The super-ego shatters with our ideologies”) and the arrangement is crammed with lovely details -- horn parts and orchestral swells pop up at unexpected moments. It’s all squished into just over four minutes. This, ladies and gents, is a real piece of work and someone needs to get their body weight in awards for the stop-motion video that accompanies the tune. [9/10]

Chris Thiessen: Father John Misty tackles hot topics with pretty much every track from his newest effort. Here we get an apocalypse brought on by underclass revolution over our treatment of the earth in light of global warming. It's hard to swallow the cynical, condescending tone that Tillman's narrator takes on. However, it's hard to refute the truths and observations he makes on our society. [7/10]

John Garratt: I'm tempted to file this song title under "Oh, Do Shut Up, Won't You?" But no, let's give this a chance. Turn out that the song itself is just as overwrought and convoluted as its name. If you were just reading a print-out of the lyrics, it would be unthinkable to match it to music. At least there is stop-motion animation. [4/10]

Jordan Blum: This is my introduction to Father John Misty, and I really like its prophetic and relevant subject matter, as well as his voice and the way the music moves between gentle reflection and bombastic, orchestrated discomfort. It feels plucked straight from the singer/songwriter trend of the early ‘70s. The most appealing part for me is the video, though, which feels like what would happen if Wes Anderson reteamed with the Fantastic Mr. Fox crew for an apocalyptic tale in the vein of The Road or The Last of Us. [9/10]

Spyros Stasis: On his new album, Pure Comedy, Josh Tilman shows his take on a series of issues from technology and religion to climate change. The latter is the focal point of this single, which is beautifully illustrated in the animation that accompanies it. The post-apocalyptic world has arrived and everything seems to be gone, while Tilman's sharp commentary about existence “on this godless rock that refuses to die” provide the details. The indie folk tone sets a fantastic tone and the build-up of the track is epic, without going over the top but providing a moving and at the same time sardonic touch. [7/10]

SCORE: 7.43

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.