Sufjan Stevens has never been afraid to bear his heart to an audience. Even at his most thematic and theatrical–2005’s masterpiece Illinois–he wasn’t shy about including a line like “I cried myself to sleep last night” as the centerpiece of a song before asking the listener to question “are you writing from the heart?” But while Illinois buried its confessional nature amidst richly arranged baroque pop playgrounds, Carrie & Lowell is a thoroughly intimate affair; all you’ll find here are fluttering guitars, double-tracked vocals delivered with a whisper, and haunting synthesizer elegies bookending the album’s brisk tracks. It is an album that is simple and anguished to its very core.
If you were to travel back in time to the year 1968 and cryogenically freeze the guys of The Band, only to wake them up in the year 2015, you’d probably find them hanging out with the members of Houndmouth. Both groups are harmony heavy, folk-funk powerhouses. While The Band spent a whole bunch of years touring with legends like Bob Dylan, and recording a massive repertoire of legendary jams, Houndmouth is just now coming up out of Indiana with their second album, Little Neon Limelight, dropping on Rough Trade earlier this week.
Father John Misty. Probably a fitting moniker for a man who claims to have “discovered” himself while sitting naked, atop an oak tree. Josh Tillman is the real name of the shroomed-out, van-driving, gentleman we came to love in 2012 when he released his hilarious, honky-tonkish debut, Fear Fun.
With his first album as Father John Misty, Tillman came out unadulterated and charmingly honest, a man free of any obligation to take himself seriously. Before that, he was only known as the unenthusiastic drummer of Fleet Foxes, who opened his own shows as folk singer, J. Tillman playing morbidly depressing songs that, frankly, weren’t very good. But Fear Fun marked a transformation for the man. He cast himself as a comedian doing standup at a rock n’ roll concert, and somehow he fit the role. It seemed as if he had finally found what would make his music brilliant: his sense of humor. Something he could surely stick to.
On Friday January 24, DJ Ben Fensterheim hosted bluegrass group Yonder Mountain String Band in the WRVU studio. Check out the full interview and in-studio performance at our Bandcamp and embedded below. The group played a concert that evening at Marathon Music Works. Their upcoming album Black Sheep is completed, and will be released in 2015.
For more on Yonder Mountain String Band, check out their website.