We’ve been just terrible the last few years about getting out a favorites list to you (2011’s is still sitting half-finished in our drafts, sad but true). There’s been a ton of good music this year, and we here at M|H hope to eventually crank out a complete list, but for now we give you what we know in our hearts: our top three albums of the year.
Father John Misty – Fear Fun
Sub Pop – 05.01.12
Usually we don’t rank our favorites, but Fear Fun is hands-down our favorite album of the year and near the top of the list for our all-time best. It’s musically compelling, the lyrics are funny and smart, and the entire Misty persona drips with charisma. We can’t say enough good things about this record or Josh Tillman so just trust us and listen to the record if you haven’t become irrevocably obsessed with it already.
Our review: I’ve Got Smoke in My Lungs and a Past Life in My Trunk
Zulu Pearls – No Heroes No Honeymoons
Cantora Records – 09.18.12
We rarely get to spend the amount of time with an album as we’d like, but No Heroes No Honeymoons is one that found itself on repeat. There’s a cool confidence and ease that comes to Zulu Pearls and listening to the record is the easiest way to get close to that. There’s something very real about what Zulu Pearls is doing; these songs would be playing in the car, on the jukebox, soundtracking your life.
Our review: I Like the Feel of Silver, But Now I Want the Gold
Reptar – Body Faucet
Vagrant Records – 05.01.12
If you’ve ever wondered what unadulterated happiness feels like, go see Reptar live. It’s impossible for us to divorce the live show from the album and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Reptar is a weird, weird band but the joy they exude while making music endows them with relatability. Body Faucet‘s quirky tunes will dance their way into your heart and mind and you’ll never stop wanting to move.
Our review: Edge of Low Verses, They Blew My Mind
“Jesus Christ, girl.” At only three words into “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings“, the lead single off Fear Fun by Josh Tillman’s new project Father John Misty, it’s clear there’s something special happening. The reverb and strung-out-sunset hollowness crashing against Tillman’s vocal turns is like a car wreck – you can’t turn yourself away from what’s going on.
Tillman, formerly of Fleet Foxes, has a gorgeous voice. While he’s technically sound, it’s the charisma and humor creeping at the corners that pushes it to another level. The religious/cult leader implications of the Father John Misty moniker (“Joseph Campbell and The Rolling Stones / couldn’t give me a myth / so I had to write my own”) are apt; in person Tillman is handsome and witty but approachable, and both live and on record could sing the phone book and make it the most compelling thing happening in the room. You’ll happily follow him wherever he may go, and he goes everywhere.
“O I Long to Feel Your Arms Around Me” is pretty and hymn-like; the man has an ear for the spirit. Lofty, too, is the apex of “Only Son of the Ladiesman”. “Teepees 1-12” is a country shaker, complete with fiddle dance hall swing. FJM brings to mind The Beatles a couple of times on the album, both with “This Is Sally Hatchet” and “I’m Writing a Novel” (which is a cross between “Pleasant Valley Sunday” by The Monkees and “The Ballad of John and Yoko” – a move that seems intentional based on the song’s lyrics). In general Tillman nods to the past but makes it sound new, a dusted-off find from deep in the vault and not some lame apery.
Every track on the record is solid, a rare find in a singles-driven industry. Unsurprising, though, considering “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” is a contender for favorite song of 2012. Fear Fun is an instant classic, prime for those sunny summer mornings and lazy front porch afternoons.
Fear Fun dropped 05.01.12.
Click to download “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” and “Nancy From Now On“.