Tag Archives: Robyn Hitchcock

Robyn Hitchcock’s Latest Blends Groovy Throwback Rock with Topical Lyrics

12 May

Robyn Hitchcock is a highly respected indie rock artist. Now 64, he’s been practicing his craft as a solo artist and frontman with a number of bands across five decades: with well-known UK band, the Soft Boys (1976 – 1980); the Egyptians (1985 – 1993), the Venus 3 (2006 – 2010), and him alone.

All told, he’s been involved with more than 20 studio albums — the latest being his first self-titled release of his career. I guess it’s better late than never to discover who you are.

Seriously, Hitchcock is an extremely accomplished lyricist and musician, and it shows on this album. On the ten songs, he tried to come to grips with all the global political upheaval lately, including Trump’s election in the US and Britain’s so-called Brexit from the EU.

On Robyn Hitchcock, we hear him effortlessly blend five decades of rock from the psych-rock of the Beatles to today’s alt-rock bands. Clear influences include rock legends such as the Beatles, Byrds and Big Star. Hitchcock, who recently relocated to Nashville from his native UK, used a lot of experienced session players to create a full band sound — without actually assembling a band.

Track highlights: Opener “I Want to Tell You What I Want” is driving alt-rock. Pulsing bass and muted percussive guitar sets up the rhythm. Growling guitars are mixed with a combination of spoken and sung vocals.

The next track, Virginia Woolf,” features Hitchcock’s edgy, raspy guitar. The melodic sound he achieves is reminiscent of the Beatles’ rock hits of the Revolver to White Album era.

“Mad Shelley’s Letterbox” could be performed by the Byrds, with rich Beatles-like harmonies near the end of the song.

“Detective Mindhorn” is bouncy and fun. Finally, the second-to-last track, “Autumn Sunglasses,” takes you back to the trippy psychedelic era of the late 1960s.

All along, Hitchcock keeps the music and lyrics current and relevant, so Robyn Hitchcock represents much more than an aging hippie looking longingly toward his golden past.

 

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Robyn Hitchcock Offers Satisfying Folk-Rock for a Winter’s Day

11 Dec

Prolific singer-songwriter, Robyn Hitchcock, has recorded no less than 23 albums during a career that has spanned nearly four decades. From his first studio album with the neo-psychedelic band, The Soft Boys, in 1976 to his latest solo release, The Man Upstairs, the U.K.-based artist has always produced music that’s distinctive and expressive, with vocals that recall John Lennon or Bob Dylan at their peak.

Yet Hitchcock is not just another singer-songwriter playing guitar- and piano-based indie folk. He’s an original. All of which makes The Man Upstairs an interesting study in contrasts.

Hitchcock is first and foremost a terrific performer. He can take any song and make it his own through a creative interpretation. His vocals range from fragile and vulnerable to warm and comforting. So, it’s interesting that what he and well-known producer, Joe Boyd, decided for The Man Upstairs, is to make an album with a mix of five original compositions and five covers.

In the end, we’re left with a mellow, introspective, decidedly Hitchcock-ian set of songs that becomes better with each listen. It’s a perfect companion for these rainy days of late fall/early winter.

The album opens with a fantastic cover of The Psychedelic Furs’ “The Ghost in You.” The Furs’ synths have been replaced with piano and beautifully played cello, backed by a steadily strummed acoustic guitar. It’s easily the best track on the CD.

That song is followed immediately by Hitchcock’s own “San Francisco Patrol,” a lovely love ballad with a rich, jangly fingerpicked guitar, piano, strings, and light accompanying vocals from Lise Frøkedal.

“Ferries” is a lighthearted, lilting cover of an original by Norwegian band, I Was a King, of which Frøkedal is a member. She sings the excellent harmonies on this number as well.

The outlier in this folk collection is “Somebody to Break Your Heart.” Penned by Hitchcock, it’s a bluesy folk-rock tune, with a downhome flavor. Bass, guitar and harmonica set up a funky groove.

One final song of note is the second-to-last track, “The Crystal Ship,” originally performed by the Doors. Hitchcock makes it his own with haunting vocals, piano and cello that would have fit nicely with the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” on Revolver.

In addition to being an amazing vocalist and songwriter, Hitchcock writes short stories, paints and draws. If you’re looking for an album that would be a great gift this Christmas by a singer-songwriter who’s a true artist, this is the one.