Rediscovering – Patrik Fitzgerald

In the mid 80s I went to a Polytechnic (now a University! Of course it is, aren’t they all) to study Fine Art. Whilst there, I met my future husband who not only taught me patience, the art of not caring what others think and how to play the guitar, but introduced me to the music of Patrik Fitzgerald.

As art students, it was our prerogative, nay, our duty, to lie in bed in the morning and arrive late. Sit around being fey, poetic, or as Jarvis Cocker once sang, It may look to the untrained eye like I’m sitting on my arse all day.”

One day, whilst not attending class, my other half put on a cassette – you remember those,you had to wrap the brown tape around a pencil when it got tangled or twisted, and then the damaged bit would be a permanent wobble – anyway, he puts this tape on.

PFcassette
The original headscrew!

I had NEVER in my life heard anything like it. I immediately went out and bought an album – that’s a record, NOT a CD people – ‘Gifts and Telegrams’.

PF gifts
gifts and telegrams by Patrik Fitzgerald

I played it until future hubby was sick of listening to it. I still have it. I haven’t listened to Fitzgerald’s music for over a decade – until today.

Fitzgerald is hard to classify/pigeonhole. Wiki describes him as –

Patrik Fitzgerald…is an English singer-songwriter and an originator of folk punk he began recording and performing during the punk rock movement in 1977, after working briefly as an actor.”

I had never heard an album that sounded like it had been recorded in someone’s bedroom (though that’s where all the new young things start today – on social media *rolls eyes) I had never heard music that incorporated sounds that apparently didn’t belong to instruments. Singing in an amateurish, yet compelling, manner. And odd techno bleeps.

So today, as I was writing, I decided to look for my NaNoWriMo Novel Writing Soundtrack, and the wonder of the internet brought me to Patrik, it was an odd feeling I have to admit. Kind of like coming full circle musically, rediscovering your youth is a bizarre thing – just you wait!

Fitzgerald is incredibly unique in the history of British music and I do think more people should be aware of him. For some reason, he seems to have been forgotten. It isn’t Punk in the way most remember it, there’s no aggressive, hyper-tuneless, in-your-face stuff – though I do like a bit of aggro – Fitzgerald is more melancholic.He’s urban before urban was a thing, his introspective, almost suicidal lyrics pre-date Emo’s. Ironic, minimal, bitter, poetic,now is the time for a resurgence of Fitzgerald’s music focusing on the human condition.

I know it can be challenging for some people, but I do urge you to give it a listen to. I’d love to hear what people think.

Advertisements

This Week I Have Been Mostly Listening To…

Rag ‘n’ Bone Man

The ‘Challenge Alex’ experiment continues. Moving on with the idea of me being introduced to ‘new stuff’ in regards to music, this weeks suggestion comes from Ben, who, from my limited experience, does not fall into the same listening category as other students. He has a taste for the old-fashioned; he likes Edith Piaf, for example! (Shh, don’t tell him I told you!)So I am hoping he has something different to offer. This week I have been mostly listening to…

Rag ‘n’ Bone Man (AKA, Rory Graham)

N.B: this is NOT a review – it’s simply an experiment in expanding my listening tastes.

What I listened to –

1. Human. Great voice; a softer feeling Joe Cocker. Clapping and a tambourine keep the beat as ‘the Bone Man’ begs us to not ‘put the blame on me’. Background vocals provide harmony and the continuous ‘yell’ in the background – which, oddly, was not too irritating.

What does it sound like to me? It’s pop, but with a difference, influenced by Blues, Rock and Gospel I think.

Did I like it? Yes, I did.

2. Skin – Beginning a cappella, we get to hear the full power of this man’s voice. A very warm, deep Blues sound. When the music begins, it almost ruins it for me, the verse I didn’t like, but the chorus is strong and thrums away; instruments, vocals and lyrics creating a lovely, pulsing rhythm.

What does it sound like to me? Pop, with a Blues influence.

Did I like it? Yes, but not as much as the first one.

3.Lay My Body DownPiano led intro, and then that voice. A plea to not weep for him when he’s gone, as Graham imagines his death. The piano, voice, drums etc. roll around each other in perfect harmony

What does it sound like to me? Again, it sounds like Gospel influence Pop.

Did I like it? It was okay.

4. Life in Her Yet – A slightly, lighter, upbeat intro, but the lyrics are still quite tragic.I can imagine this being used in a Western movie, the heroine has had a tough life; a hard-bitten woman with the desert ingrained on her face and a rifle always to hand.

What does it sound like to me? Country and Western influenced Blues Pop!

Did I like it? Kind of.

5. Grace – Vocals with a simple piano accompaniment; later joined by a bass, guitar, choir; each ‘instrument’ coming in layer upon layer until it builds to join in the chorus – then back to solo voice and piano. Not so much a romantic love song, but a song about eternal love, humanity.

What does it sound like to me? Oddly, it doesn’t feel completely like a modern song. There is something from the past lingering here that I just can’t put my finger on.

Did I like it? I think so; I enjoy the sentiment in the lyrics.

ragnboneman2Humnacover
Rag ‘n’ Bone Man – Human

6.Bitter EndAs he questions whether a relationship has come to the bitter end, we get swells of Gospel-like choir following his solo voice and lone piano. Like that it ends with the question on a high note and stops dead.

What does it sound like to me? A half-empty 80’s bar, smoky pop/soul. Reminds me a little bit of late Sade

Did I like it? Not sure.

7. Hard Came The RainExtremely deep throated intro! A little guitar riff that reminded me of Blue Oyster Cult’s ‘Fear the Reaper’ – hard chorus with passion and vitality; nice gravelly texture to Graham’s voice. Feels ‘real'(whatever that means!)

What does it sound like to me? Pop/Rock/soft Metal with a C & W influence.

Did I like it? Yes. Best so far.

8. Hell Yeah ft. Vince Staples – rap intro and interspersed throughout. Hell yeah, usually used as definite acknowledgement to a comment, here Graham uses it to say we are all going to Hell – yeah! Quite a short number compared to the previous, at just under 4 minutes, it has an abrupt ending; possibly the abrupt ending some of us deserve! The drums have that tripping hip-hop edge to them giving a very vaguely militaristic feel.

What does it sound like to me? Soul meets Hip Hop.

Did I like it? I think so, I don’t normally like Hip-Hop, but the treatment given here works for me.

ragnboneman3wolves
Rag ‘n’ Bone Man – Wolves

9. Guilty what I would describe as a ‘typical’ rock/pop sound; with undertones of rap. Nothing outstanding here.

What does it sound like to me? Soft Rock, Pop.

Did I like it? Not really. A little dull in comparison to, say, Hard Came The Rain.

10. No Mother A black gospel, soulful intro. Graham’s Blues tinged voice goes full on ‘Mississippi man’. The regular beat and metallic clangs, I feel, are meant to inspire in us a memory of black slaves working themselves to death on building the railroads. Here we are listening to the voice of a parent who wants to see the child that they have been denied access to.

What does it sound like to me? Particularly the intro and the ending, make me think of poor black people in the bad old days of the American South. Blues Pop.

Did I like it? No. It is too derivative for my liking.

To round-up – I will definitely be giving Rag ‘n’ Bone Man another listening to. Though I can’t assign a definitive style to his music, I just feel that it is something that I would not, under normal circumstances, bother listening to; but I will. However, that being said, I did find myself thinking, you’re a white man,from East Sussex; why are you singing like a black man? Am I even allowed to say that? There is a particular sound that we equate to peoples of the world, and Blues, Jazz, Soul and Gospel tend to belong to Black Americans. Writers are told to write ‘what you know’, and I can’t help but be suspicious of someone who takes on another cultural style wholesale.

So, maybe this is the challenge for me! The music in itself was not challenging, but its delivery and cultural context were. Maybe I just need to be less narrow-minded when it comes to what people sound like; regardless. Were my middle-aged-lady sensibilities offended? Not at all. I would like to see how Rag ‘n’ Bone Man progresses over the next 10 years or so; he’s relatively new on the music scene; I believe, so plenty of time to comfortably grow into his own creative skin – I’m betting he will be great in his later years.

ragnboneman4
Soulful Rag ‘n’ Bone Man

Addendum: After initially writing up this post, I watched the video for Hard Came The Rain, made by Nick Rutter. He makes a story about the violent end of a relationship between a female impersonator and his ex-lover; quite powerful imagery that provides a decent narrative to the song. I still like this song best of the ten I spent time listening to, now I realise that it is quite different from the other nine, Graham doesn’t sound like he is trying too hard, it sounds like his voice – not borrowed from a late, great Blues singer.

This Week I Have Been Mostly Listening To…

Key West

A month ago, I wrote about listening to Imagine Dragons. If you remember, I had invited some ‘young people’ to challenge me, to suggest music; bands, solo artists,etc, for me to listen to (shock, challenge, and make my music neurons wake up!) (I forgot to mention the age group of these young ‘uns – 18 to 21 years). To carry on with the idea of me- middle aged woman, being introduced to ‘new stuff’ in regards to music, I have been listening to Patrick’s suggestion –

Key West.

N.B: this is NOT a review – it’s simply an experiment in expanding my listening tastes.

What I listened to
1.This is Heartbreak– A slow, romance song with steady drum beat and gentle vocals. “Over and over again I can’t take it”, just about sums it up for me.

What does it sound like to me? ‘Soft’ Pop.

Did I like it? No.

2All My Mistakes Another romance, more upbeat with a cheeky little tambourine in the chorus. Has a kind of summer feel to it and I can definitely see the ‘young one’s’ dancing to it at a party. Me? I’d have to have a few G&T’s first!

What does it sound like to me? Pop/Rock

Did I like it? If I’m being generous, it was okay. Kind of…

3.Carousel Another love song!! Gak!! A little upbeat, nice drum rhythm and clapping. Didn’t make me want to dance though – or ride a carousel!

What does it sound like to me? Pop/Rock

Did I like it? No.

4. Stuck On ReplayAnother song about love, this time unrequited, sort of. A typical pop melody and rhythm that reminded me of so many other ‘love songs’ of the 90s. Even the lead singers voice has a very generic quality to it; ‘croaky pain’, check. ‘whispery pain’, check. ‘high-note sorrow’, check.

What does it sound like to me? Pop

Did I like it? No

5.This SummerDid that intro sound like All My Mistakes??? Slightly heavier beat (though still rather soft) – oh! I can go ‘Fuck yourself’!! Seems like he’s got over the girl/girls in previous 4 songs, and it makes a positive difference. It ends on a discordant note on guitar and piano – which I thought might bode well for future stuff…

What does it sound like to me? Pop/Rock

Did I like it? Almost. Not quite.

keywest3
Key West look as thrilled as I did listening to their music

6.Electric Love The opening has potential, a minimalist feel with a slappy bass. But guess what? It’s ANOTHER love song!!! There is a bit of a western feel with the rhythm, like being on a train, which keeps the song feeling more ‘alive’ than others. But it gets quite repetitive after 2 minutes in.

What does it sound like to me? Pop/Rock

Did I like it? Not really.

7.Messages From God Sounds like another love song to me. Blah, blah, blah.

What does it sound like to me? Pop

Did I like it? No.

8.Feels So Cruel Aarrgghh!!

What does it sound like to me? Pop

Did I like it? No

9.The Message Borrr-ing!

What does it sound like to me? Soft Pop

Did I like it? No

10.The Little Things – A stronger vocal opening than previously heard. Picks up into a bouncy little number after intro. Nice guitar and bass. A little experimentation at the end with some ambient sounds.

What does it sound like to me? Pop/Rock

Did I like it? It was okay.

 
To round-up – I won’t be listening to Key West again. The name suggests a link to America, though they are, I discovered, a Dublin band. I had never heard of them before, despite the fact that they have been on the scene since 2012. The sound is too processed, too audience friendly – middle of the road for my liking.

Was I challenged? No. Were my middle-aged-lady sensibilities offended? Not at all.

By track 4 I definitely felt ‘Stuck on Replay’! I had determined to listen to 10 songs and to give them an even break, but boys, I’ve heard it all before. It’s so hum-drum, pedestrian with little creativity that I can see.

The point of this exercise was to have music that would challenge me, something new, something exciting, perhaps weird or a little ‘arty’. Key West is, for me, none of those things. The challenge was sticking with it long enough to form and write and opinion.

yawning
Key West had me yawning at my key board

 

This Week I have Been Mostly Listening To…

I have been listening to…Imagine Dragons.

I wrote a little about having new Filthy Friends on 9th September, and decided to carry on with the idea of me, middle aged woman, being introduced to ‘new stuff’ in regards to music.

Even more than drugs, I believe that shifts in perspective, challenging tastes and opinions are mind expanding. As humans age, we have a tremendous capacity to think our childhood was best, our music was not so ‘hard on the ears’, our opinions, politics, fashion etc, etc are/were better than ‘the young people of today’. We get stuck in our ways – well I don’t intend to age gracefully!

So, I have invited some ‘young people’ to challenge me, to suggest music; bands, solo artists, for me to listen to (shock, challenge, and make my music neurons wake up!) and I am starting off with Scott’s suggestion –

Imagine Dragons.

N.B: this is NOT a review – it’s simply an experiment in expanding my listening tastes.

What I listened to

1.Radioactive – now I had actually heard this song before. A slow burn verse towards a burst of a chorus. Some industrial effects; dripping water, what sounds like wind in a tunnel and then a squeaky toy!

What does it sound like to me? Pop/Rock

Did I like it? Yes

2. Thunder – kind of synth n drums thing going on. Lots of repetition of ‘Thunder’ and finger clicking.

What does it sound like to me? Pop. Like the 1980’s band Men At Work, if they updated their style.

Did I like it? Not really.

3.Believer starts with a slow march beat, leading to some rap style lyrics before bursting into the chorus -You make me a believer .

What does it sound like to me? What I would call modern Rock.

Did I like it? Yes.

6rxcx5edobenot8b7huikduya.1000x1000x1
Imagine Dragons

4. Whatever It Takes – kind of rap influenced verse? Synth drums? Chorus slows down the pace with a kind of choral background.

What does it sound like to me? Pop

Did I like it? No.

5.Demons – a slow stadium rock feel with no alteration in pace, tone or anything.

What does it sound like to me? Stadium Rock/Pop

Did I like it? Not really.

6.On Top of The World – opens with a cheery little clapping, whistling, keyboard overlaid by what sounds like something rolling. Solo voice in verse joined in chorus by multiple. Near the end is a set of recordings of President Nixon? And some industrial effects – then back to bouncy, Carribean tinged chorus.

What does it sound like to me? Like it can’t decide what it is.

Did I like it? Not much.

7. I Bet My Life – I could imagine a barn full of people doing line dancing to this one! Someone/something shrieking in the background is annoying! The chorus – I, I bet my life, I bet my life on you,I, I bet my life, I bet my life, I bet my life on you is reminiscent of Ray Davis and the Kinks Days – Thank you for the days, Those endless days, those sacred days you gave me, I’m thinking of the days, I won’t forget a single day, believe mehas that same rhythm.(But not as good)
What does it sound like to me? Pop, gets it’s Stetson and boots on.

Did I like it? Not sure. Pretty much anything ‘country’ flavoured makes me baulk.

8.It’s Time – clapping, synth drums, tapping, something opening, banjo?! Slides into a short, smooth full-bodied chorus.

What does it sound like to me? A heavier early 90’s dance/pop tune.

Did I like it? Was okay.

imagine dragons gold
Imagine Dragons, Gold

9. Gold – slices of drums, whistling, speech before the singing begins. This is has a rougher, grimier feel than any of the others songs so far. Each bridge between verse and chorus slows to a slow stomp/march feel. Some ‘rock guitar’ solo at the end.

What does it sound like to me? Rock/Pop

Did I like it? I did actually.

10. Monster – a willowy guitar and synth intro suddenly turns to solid drum base. This sounded like another one – – just my imagination or did they run out of melodies? A nice strong chorus.

What does it sound like to me? By this point, it sounds like Imagine Dragons! Pop with a rock influence.

Did I like it? I did.

monster_by_imagine_dragons_by_theprimelegacy-d8a2fwi
Imagine Dragons, Monster

To round-up – I think I quite liked listening to Imagine Dragons, though I wouldn’t go out of my way to do it; I wouldn’t for instance, buy an album, although I might listen online amongst other stuff.

Was I challenged? No. Were my middle-aged-lady sensibilities offended? Not at all.

For my money, Imagine Dragons could be a whole lot better, if they quit trying to make songs that sell, i.e. Pop songs. They have potential to be great; if they used more of the experimental sounds, they have a variety of textures in their music which is overlaid by mainstream pop sounds.

I prefer the rougher, rockier, grimier pieces (later listened to I’m So Sorry, live recording – really liked it), to me, those pieces feel real. I’m not keen on their use of synthetic instrumentals; which is what some of it sounds like to me, I may be wrong, but I’d like to hear the rawness of actual drums, bass etc.

ImagineDragons_MakeTheCutMUG5Edit
Imagine Dragons – didn’t knock me out.

 

I’m Getting New Friends – And They’re Filthy!

Review – Music – UNCUT magazine’s free CD

music review blog UNCUT mag.jpg
Hello Operator, free with UNCUT magazine

I bought a music magazine today for the first time in about 25 years. I don’t even pretend to be knowledgeable about this creative industry, (I’m a visual artist by training), I sing along to the chorus of songs and forget the lyrics of the verses of even the most famous songs in the world.

As you get older, it is easy to settle in your ways; however, I fight this, and am aided by the young people I work with. I like to think I am open-minded, I will give most things a try; last year I began listening to Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails; makes me want to be eighteen again. I love Manson’s version of Tainted Love (and the video!!!)

music review blog marilyn-manson
Marilyn Manson, makes me feel young again.

UNCUT magazine was giving away a free CD; that’s why I bought it. I wanted to listen to something I had never heard before and see if the new kids could challenge me and my musical limitations.
Here goes:

The Clientele – Everyone You Meet
Like stepping back in time, to the 60’s. Not terribly exciting or original. Maclean’s whispery vocals do little for me.

Chris Hillman – Here She Comes Again
Another retro style. A kind of sixties-country-rock mix. Hardly surprising given it is made by former Byrd members and Tom Petty. Not a fan.

Wand – Plum
With it’s thumping piano opening reminiscent of a Beatles song, whose title I cannot recall, this is another retro feel. Then we go a bit Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Some intermittent discord and hint at industrialisation adds some interest – I like musicians that experiment, but it returns to the melody – and ends with some odd whistling! Not sure, but might find other tracks to listen to of this group.

music review blog WAND
Wand, didn’t quite cast their spell.

Antibalas – Gold Rush (edit)
Well “Hello 70’s”; African influenced rock-psychedelic-brass horns mix. Even this edited version is longer than the previous songs. Great beat that keeps things moving along. Though I would have preferred something more funk it’s quite good fun.

Lee Ranaldo – Purloined
Synth-guitar-drum led tune. Could be the opening of a TV show. Okay.

Hiss Golden Messenger – Jenny of the Roses
Country induced coma – no –

Mark Olsen – Seminole Valley Tea Sipper Society
So reminded me of another 60’s piece. A kind of hippy-trippy-folksy outing. Either the the singing is deliberately out of tune or….
The most interesting thing about this is the title.

Willie Watson – Samson and Delilah
Country meets Gospel – no –

Filthy Friends – The Arrival
Ah, now this is more like my kind of thing. Punk influence is clear here and Corin Tuckers vocals are strong with hints of Poly Styrene.. Love the thrashy quality of the guitars and drums. Will certainly be seeking out more of this lot.

music review blog filthy friends
Filthy Friends gets my vote.

DAF – Kebabträume
Sorry, but Kraftwerk got here first! And did it better!

Moses Sumney – Quarrel
Sumney has a gorgeous voice, his vocal range is impressive and the alterations between fragility and power reminded me of Kate Bush. I wanted to like this, but I got bored half way through. It feels like there’s something missing.

Acetone – Shaker
Acetone is, the dictionary says, a volatile, flammable liquid’. Unfortunately, there was nothing volatile about this piece at all. Whispery vocals, again; leave me cringing.

Deer Tick – Sea of Clouds
No! Next! That voice!

Mogwai – Coolverine
This is the only artist I have previously heard of in this compilation. This is the first time I have heard their work, and unless it accompanies a TV drama, it will be the last time.

The Dream Syndicate – How Did I Find Myself Here?
Interesting opening with the instruments sounding like they are tripping over each other. Unfortunately, this is another that sounds like a pastiche of 60’s/70’s sounds. Not very original.

 

So, no challenge there then, how very disappointing. It seems like the people who compiled this CD were either, a)my age and wanted something reminiscent – in which case – make way for new creativity guys! Or, b)youngsters in their twenties who think its retro and cool – in which case – make way for something new and creative guys!

Not impressed, undewhelmed; meh!

But I did say at the beginning I’m not good with music – that’s my excuse – and at 52 years of age I feel like all this was just a rehash of stuff I have heard previously in my life.
It is quite disappointing when creatives churn out the same old, same old. I want to be challenged, I want to go, “Hmm, not sure, will have to listen again or come back to that.”

A lovely voice does not make for an interesting song, Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen do not have lovely voices, but they have interesting voices, with character and feeling, plus they both write fantastic music and poetical lyrics.

Is it just me, or are the arts and culture becoming more homogenized? Less interesting? Less creative?

Maybe I’ll buy another music mag in 25 years time, lets see if they can impress and challenge a 77 year old!!!!

Next!!