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3. Father John Misty — Fear Fun
After releasing seven albums under his own name between 2004 and 2010 and playing drums in Fleet Foxes for a few years before leaving the band in January of this year, Joshua Tillman underwent something of an artistic makeover and released his first album under the name Father John Misty. Listening to opener "Funtimes in Babylon," it doesn't seem like much of a departure from what he was doing with Fleet Foxes: it's immaculate in every conceivable way, from the sparklingly clean production and smoothed-out playing to his refreshingly commanding vocals. From there, though, things take a left turn. He relocated from Seattle to Laurel Canyon (in a van with a bunch of mushrooms, the story goes) and started writing a novel. The songs that came along with it capture the region's drugged out, borderline culty vibe in a way that it never has been before: with striking clarity and a sense of humor, not to mention a woefully underrated ear for melody and a southerner's knack for storytelling.
Key Track: "I'm Writing a Novel"