Song of the day: Fountains Of Wayne – "Barbara H."

April 22, 2013

Here’s the sequence of events leading up to today’s song:

  1. I received an email from Bandcamp suggesting I listen to an album (Live In Concert by The Late Show)
  2. I began listening to it
  3. As soon as I heard the vocal melody in the verse of the first track I thought it sounded like the vocal melody in the chorus of Fountains Of Wayne‘s “Barbara H.”
  4. “Barbara H.” then proceeded to get stuck in my head
  5. I found myself with wanting to play you “Barbara H.”

And here it is:

Fountains Of Wayne – “Barbara H. (1996)

Song of the day: Ken Simpson – "He’s Not Looking"

March 2, 2013

I received a friendly email from an American musician by the name of Ken Simpson (Hi, Ken!). Ken told me about his new EP, You’re No Fun Anymore, and asked if I’d have a listen.

I had a listen, enjoyed it (sort of), and got carried away with my comments.

Brace yourself…

Ken Simpson – You’re No Fun Anymore (2013)

1. “The Poisoner’s Song

I can’t really comment positively on this song, because it contains almost all the things about late-Beatles-worship that irritate me:

a) Slow, simple drum beat
I’d be happy not to hear another drummer play in the patented “Relaxed Ringo” style.

b) The “Mellotron” sound
Just because The Beatles used the “flute” preset on their Mellotron for “Strawberry Fields Forever” doesn’t mean other musicians have to as well. The Mellotron had a lot more settings than simply “flute”.

c) A cello
I love the sound of the cello (it’s my favourite orchestral instrument), but hearing it in a slow, late-Beatles-ish song makes me sigh – not in a “Isn’t that lovely” way, but in a “Can’t we use a different instrument for a change?” way.

c) Singer doing an impression of John Lennon
Apart from the general “I’ll sound like John Lennon” vibe that pervades the vocal track on this song, I thought the Johnny-ising* went a bit too far when Ken sang the word “touch” at 0:50. He got all Liverpudlian and pronounced it “tooch” (as if it rhymed like “Look at the book I took”).

(*Or “Johnny I Sing”.)

Trivia: When Ken sang the phrase “This looks like lemonade” (0:51-0:54), I wondered if he’d missed an opportunity by not singing “Lennon-ade”.

I’m guessing this song is a good one, but my views of it are clouded by my dislike of hearing yet another song infused** with slow, late-Beatles sounds and playing.

(**I’d originally typed “infected” but thought that’s just being mean.)

2. “He’s Not Looking

Apart from the slide guitar in the introduction reminding me of (who else?) George Harrison, the melody in the verse (0:17-0:32) reminded me of something as well. I’m sure I’ve heard that tune somewhere before, but I can’t place it (at the moment). Hang on…

Got it:

Ken Simpson – “He’s Not Looking” (2013) (excerpt)


Fountains Of Wayne – “All Kinds Of Time (2003) (excerpt)


Actually, the chorus reminded me of something too, but I don’t know what. Grrr.

Bad News: The harmony singing from 1:19-1:21 is out of tune.
Good News: It doesn’t happen anywhere else in the song.

By the way, I liked this song much more than the first one (“The Poisoner’s Song”).

3. “When You Talk To Me

Moody. I like the low-key brass (which created the “moody”), but I didn’t like the syncopated drumming – especially from 0:43-0:58. I thought the syncopated tom-toms were a bit better (they weren’t as noticeable), but overall I thought the jumpy drumming didn’t suit the mood of the song.

I like the brass interlude from 1:59-2:26. Very nice.

Incidentally, Ken’s double-tracked voice when he sings the high notes in this song (e.g., “How can you…” from 2:50-2:52) sounds like Gerry Rafferty.

4. “Feeling So Much Better

This one started off reminding me of Gerry Rafferty as well. (See previous track.)

I can’t think of much to say about this one, because it’s pleasant and doesn’t do anything particularly noticeable by way of something like “Wow! What an unusual chord progression!”, or “Wow! It’s incredible how Ken’s spoken-word Emily Dickinson quotation fits perfectly in the middle eight!”, or “Wow! Who would have thought a shamisen solo could work in a pop song!” etc.

It’s pleasant.

And it has a mighty fine guitar solo (1:56-2:16). And a nice key change from 2:32 onwards.

5. “I Guess I Never Told You

Mmm: jazzy. And very smoooooooooth. Unfortunately, this track in particular highlighted Ken’s vocal limitations.

Disclaimer: Because I’m a dreadful singer, I always feel distinctly uncomfortable talking about somebody else’s singing if I think it’s not very good. I think that I have no right to even dare mention it. (As in: “Bad singing, Peter? Ha! You can talk!”)

But, like “When You Talk To Me”, this track also had a great brass interlude from 1:18-1:52. I like brass interludes.

Suggestion for the song’s arranger: During the brass interlude, instead of the cello sawing its way through that section how about a string trio? It’d sound a lot smoother.

Despite my misgivings about some aspects of this song, I liked it. This and track 2 (“He’s Not Looking”) are probably my two favourite songs on the EP.

6. “Perfect Day

The return of the Mellotron “flute” preset. But I’m OK with that because it’s not too noticeable.

And the return of Ken’s voice reminding me of Gerry Rafferty.

By the way, I think Ken likes starting his songs quietly for about half a minute before the rest of the band kicks in, because this this is the fourth song on the EP to do that.

Let’s see…

Track 1: “Poisoner’s Song” (41 seconds before the band comes in)
Track 2: “He’s Not Looking” (31 seconds)
Track 4: “Feeling So Much Better” (29 seconds)
Track 6: “Perfect Day” (43 seconds)

Yep. About 30 seconds.

But back to the song I’m listening to:

When “Perfect Day” gets a-goin’, I like the fuzz whatever-it-is in the left channel. (I think it’s a keyboard. Maybe.) And I enjoyed the backwards guitar panning around the soundstage, although it did remind me too much of, er, you know…


OK. That’s it. I suppose that’s what some people might call a review. (Not me.)

Oh. I just remembered.

It would be dreadfully impolite of me not to mention that You’re No Fun Anymore was produced by David Mead. And this was David Mead’s first production job.

So if you’re a David Mead fan, you can confidently go near this EP knowing that David Mead sprinkled a bit of his pixie dust on it.

(Disclaimer: David Mead may not be a pixie.)


Update: The unhelpful comment about David Mead’s pixiness was to be the end of the post, but Ken left a comment (see below) saying that his EP is available free o’ charge. You can grab it here:

If I may be permitted to speak on behalf of Ken:


CD Baby

Musical coincidences # 360

January 26, 2013

Among the thousands hundreds dozens few emails I receive from musicians and/or record companies asking me to tell you about the music they’ve made and would like you to hear, one was from a record company called Radiant Future Records promoting the music of Martin Gordon.

The email I received had a message about Martin’s Pledge Music request (see video below), along with samples of songs from his forthcoming album, Include Me Out.

(Trivia: It was the first email I’ve received where the songs were actually in the message, not attached to it. I don’t know how they did it, I but I think it’s neat.)

Anyway, one of the songs I heard in the email reminded me of a track by Fountains of Wayne.


Martin Gordon – “Gotta Go Green” (2013) (excerpt)


…reminded me of this:

Fountains Of Wayne – “Someone To Love (2007) (excerpt)


They may not be all that similar, but Martin’s thingy reminded me of Fountains Of Wayne’s thingy.

Here’s a bit more of “Gotta Go Green”. It’s not the whole thing, but it’s all that’s available at the moment:

Martin Gordon – “Gotta Go Green (2013)

And here’s the full version of “Someone To Love”:

Fountains Of Wayne – “Someone To Love (2000)


Song of the day: Fountains Of Wayne – "Denise"

January 23, 2013

Speaking of horrendously catchy Fountains Of Wayne songs from Utopia Parkway

Fountains Of Wayne – “Denise” (1999)


Song of the day: Fountains Of Wayne – "Red Dragon Tattoo"

January 22, 2013

Ever had a song that got stuck in your head and refused to leave? A few years ago Fountains Of Wayne‘s “Red Dragon Tattoo” decided to plant itself in my noggin and stay there for about a week. It wouldn’t budge.

Well, the other day it reappeared. I hope it doesn’t stay in my head too long this time…

Fountains Of Wayne – “Red Dragon Tattoo” (1999)


Song of the day: Fountains Of Wayne – "Yolanda Hayes"

August 13, 2012

I just listened to Fountains Of Wayne‘s latest (and possibly last – it sure sounds valedictory) album, Sky Full Of Holes, one more time. (I’ve heard it nine times now.) Just before it began I thought: “I like Fountains Of Wayne. I’ll put one of those newer songs on the blog.”

The only trouble is (gee whiz), there wasn’t any song on the album I thought was suitable for the mood I was in (bright ‘n’ breezy). “OK,” I thought to myself, “How about I go back an album and find something there?” So I listened to Traffic And Weather, and found “Yolanda Hayes”: “Yep, that’s more like it. There’s a great little catchy bit in it where they sing ‘who do you love…’.” *

Fountains Of Wayne – “Yolanda Hayes (2007)


Update for anyone interested (which would make just me): After listening to both Sky Full Of Holes and Traffic and Weather back-to-back again after not doing that for a quite some time, I’d say:

  • I like Sky Full Of Holes less than I used to; and
  • I like Traffic and Weather more than I used to.

And that is probably the dullest paragraph you’ll read all day week.

Official website

(*Ah, the wonders of pareidolia. The following punctuation .’.” looks like a little dog facing away from me but looking back towards me. The dots are paws, the single quotation mark is the tail, and the double quotation mark is the face looking at me. Ah, pareidolia.)

Musical coincidences # 270

June 30, 2012

This particular coincidence emanated from a post on the PowerPop blog. One of the blog’s contributors, Steve Smiles Simels (Hi, Steve!), posted a song he liked called “All Things Retro” by Dave Birk.

The post resulted in a few comments, the first of which was from Blue Ash Fan:

“Isn’t that the chorus from FoW‘s “It Must Be Summer?” And, hell, even the verses employ the same motif. Or am I imagining things?”

A few other people mentioned the similarity, and then the embattled songwriter Dave Birk (hi, Dave!) left a comment stating in a heartfelt manner that the coincidence was entirely coincidental.

This is what got people going “Hey, that’s…”:

Dave Birk – “All Things Retro (2012) (excerpt)

Fountains of Wayne – “It Must be Summer” (1999) (excerpt)

Here are the full versions:

Dave Birk – “All Things Retro (2012)

Fountains of Wayne – “It Must be Summer” (1999)