Frankie - Many Rooms - There is a Presence Here (2018)
It’s that spooky time of year that I love, so I’m gonna hit you with the most haunting album I’ve heard to date. “There is a Presence Here” is the debut album from one-woman act Many Rooms AKA Brianna Hunt. It is dripping with the ghosts that haunt this young artist, and she captures her youthful innocence with lyrics that captivate and vocals that sound breathy and distant, as if heard through glass. Throughout the album, Hunt draws from her religious background, though it is not an overbearing theme to her music at all, to ask hard questions she knows may never be answered. For example, in her opening track “Nonbeing” she calls out to maybe God, maybe her mother, maybe just to her lonely consciousness, the lyrics “what if I die and nothing happens, will my soul decay with me?”
I was able to experience (I use the word “experience” because it was not just a performance but truly an ethereal experience) Many Rooms when she toured and performed with Foxing this year. Just a girl and her guitar, no backing band, playing and singing softly, interspersed with monologues about her past and how she got to where she is. She sweetly opened herself up in front of her audience, telling us how she loves her mother and about her rocky, almost nonexistent relationship with both her father and her God, capturing all her fear, anger, and admiration in the song “Danielle” with the lines “well mother, I’d like to think/ that when I weep, you weep/ does he haunt you like he haunts me/ every night when you fall asleep?”
Experiencing Many Rooms also was also the first time I experienced an incredibly rude audience. If you’ve never been to The Basement here in Columbus, I urge you to go, as it is one of my favorite venues I’ve ever been to. The way the room is oriented is a little awkward, but I’ve seen many shows there and never had it been quite as bad as that night. The stage viewing area is perpendicular to the long bar that stretches to the back of the room. Foxing was clearly the only thing on the minds of the guests drunkenly shouting around the bar area during the Many Rooms set, though Hunt powered though and was still able to effectively connect with the captivated audience in front of her. This prompted a little speech from Conor Murphy, front man of Foxing, chastising those who were disrespectful during the opening set, even making sure to point out that she was brave enough to get on stage with just her guitar, while he’s only even on stage with his entire band.
I picked up my pressing of “There is a Presence Here” at that show, as well as a long-sleeve tee, and was able to express my newfound admiration for Hunt at her merch table. She is so humble and sweet, just as vulnerable one-on-one as she was on stage. Some of my other favorites from the album, besides the ones I’ve mentioned, are “Dear Heart”, “Hollow Body” featuring a cover from the song “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails (also famously covered by Johnny Cash), and the tear-jerking, relatable, minute long “Untitled.” Also, if you haven’t listened to our latest podcast, Michael, Greg and I talk a little bit more about concert etiquette, but just make sure you’re being just as respectful to the opening act as you are to the headline, because they can easily become one of your new favorite acts.
Michael - Father John Misty - God's Favorite Customer (Loser Edition) (2018):
If you have been following Alt Revue for a while, you know I love me some Father John Misty. I think he is one of the most talented acts in alt music today, and as I have already argued the best lyricist in alt music today. I think he brings a wit and a bite to his lyrics that few can equal. Additionally, he has a pretty dynamic vocal register and often will sing in falsetto when the mood suits him.
But what really attracts me to Father John Misty is his views in his music. He has a certain sarcastic charm he presents that I relate to. Call it jaded, or what have you, but I can relate. He is unrelenting in presenting his views of the world, for better or for worse and there is something I admire about the honesty. I'll take that over a generic love song every day of the week.
What Josh Tillman has been able to accomplish by tapping more into his real personality through is moniker is downright amazing. He has freed himself to let his personality go unfettered and no longer faces the self-imposed restrictions he did as "Josh Tillman". It's one of my favorite stories in alt music right now.
I got this copy of God's Favorite Customer (Loser Edition) from a vinyl shop on eBay, though I can't for the life of me remember the name of it. I love the purple edition of the vinyl (especially given the colors of Alt Revue) and this album gets heavy rotation in my collection.