Matson on Music
Seattle summer albums by Father John Misty and more
Looking for local summer music? Start here with these reviews by twos. Binding forces include Fleet Foxes, geography and Internet radio. Sound interesting? Read on!
Father John Misty "Fear Fun" [Sub Pop Records]
Poor Moon "Illusion" [Sub Pop Records]
From the long shadow cast by crystal-voiced Seattle/Portland singer-songwriter Robin Pecknold and his band Fleet Foxes emerges two spinoff bands: Father John Misty with the "Fear Fun" album (Foxes drummer Josh Tillman with assembled players) and Poor Moon with its "Illusion" EP (Foxes bassist Christian Wargo and keyboardist Casey Wescott with others). Of the two, "Fear Fun" stands out as a total freak show. Its main constituent parts are classic psychedelic folk/pop music and an avalanche of words, spilling from song lyrics to two broadsheet-sized pages of liner notes folded like maps — filled with font so small it requires holding the paper very closely to your face. There is a novel in there, underneath the Adderall and weed and mushrooms and cocaine. Thankfully it's all cut with humor, like in the song "I'm Writing a Novel" with the lyric "Because it's never been done before!" Obvious musical touchstones include John Lennon, Paul McCartney, the Beach Boys and Harry Nilsson. "This is Sally Hatchet" blatantly borrows from Brian Wilson's unpredictable chord sequences and the Beatles' staccato electric guitar stabs. But the overfamiliarity dissolves in the sheer emphasis of Father John Misty's delivery. Some of "Fear Fun"'s charms belong to Tillman alone. Every time his strong tenor voice turns upward into falsetto, for instance, there's a little unexpected gift. Highlights include "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings" and "Only Son of the Ladiesman" with their solid strums and drums and inarguable assuredness. Poor Moon's "Illusion," on the other hand, is too wispy to make much of an impression, although its introspective acoustic guitar and harmonized singing make it a good rainy day record for those willing to listen deeply.
"Voodoo Trust" by Naomi Punk
Seattle has long been lacking a heavy rock band with no trace of the burly or grizzled or bluesy. We have a lot of guitar bands who utilize "bar rock" hallmarks. What we've been needing is a head-bang-able rock band that's also weird and artistic. Naomi Punk is that band. "The Feeling" is the trio's masterwork so far, nine slow, slamming rock songs with ghostly singing, interspersed with instrumental music beamed in from some dusty cinema intermission. The title track's lyrics are credited to David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti in the liner notes, and the album is a little like Twin Peaks: off-kilter, beautiful, Pacific Northwest-y. A motif of deeply bent guitar strings complements the slower-than-usual pace and Nirvana-style repetition. On the flipside of the bizzarro coin is Giorgio Momurda's "Paintings Vol. 2," a tape of instrumental hip-hop songs blending the flying hi-hat triplets of drug-dealing trap music with boom-bap rap and hazy '90s rave synthesizers. Momurda pulls that all into something coherent, smears each song into the next, and melts down human singing into samples of melodies without discernible words. It's pretty out of this world. Momurda and Naomi Punk know each other from growing up in Seattle's Eastside suburbs. Now in their teens and 20s, they split time between Seattle and Olympia.
"Weight of the World" by OC Notes
Where many musics mingle, there you'll find OC Notes, the Pioneer Square artist who does multigenre DJ sets all over town, produces, raps and sings with the hip-hop group Metal Chocolates and releases mixtape-albums on the Internet. "Moldavite" is 33 songs of spliced 'n diced jazz meets rap meets club music. It doesn't beg for attention or lend itself particularly well to dissection. But if you're susceptible to its loopy charms you'll be wrapped in when OC Notes finally murmurs introductions to "Moldavite" (mole-duh-vight) on the serene "Ill Planet," song number 19, one highlight of many. The introduction recalls his two-hour "Art Show" on Hollow Earth Radio every month, a glorified, open-to-the-public living room performance/broadcast where he stands behind a couch, table, PA and microphone and welcomes anyone who walks in from Union Street. He recently added P. Supremo as co-host, a Latin-American Seattleite rapper with much gangster knowledge and a natural knack for storytelling. He recently laughed as he regaled an "Art Show" audience with tales of his parents shooting dope by Harborview Hospital, while OC played '70s soul music. "Street Radio Vol. 1: 50 Fedz at my Door" finds him a showcasing for his compressed rap style with clear-headed lyrical workouts. His remake/mash-up of Too $hort's drop-top classic "I'm a Player" with Tyga's "Rack City" (Supremo's song is "Rain City") is right on time for summer. But "Spectaular Rapper" takes the cake with the great line "pistol poppin' action / on 23rd and Jackson."