Farrington - vocals, guitar * Marcos de la Cruz - drums * Henry Clift - bass
Additional Musicians: Eric Dover * Roger Joseph Manning Jr * John Easdale * John Auer * Ken Stringfellow * Frankie Siragusa * Tim Smith * Anthony King * Bryan Shaddix * Joe Giddings
An album that has seemingly come out of nowhere (land). I was alerted to its greatness from one of my American friends, who was enthusing about the qualities of this album, and one that would be I was told 'right up my street'.
Well it is. So I set about doing a little background/detective work on James Patrick AKA Farrington and I find he's been involved in music from the late 70's, working along the way with such musical luminaries such as Roger Joseph Manning Jr (Jellyfish) and Prescott Niles (The Knack), as well as taking a sabbatical around 2008 for 4 years to hone his songwriting skills, and teaching himself to play the bass guitar, piano and drums, and judging by the results here it was time extremely well spent!
This is his fourth album, following on from 2019's 'Pictures Of Pretty Things', released on his own Magic Stone record label, which I have yet to have the pleasure of hearing, but I'm aiming to put that right very soon.
15....yes count 'em, 15 rock/pop gems all clocking in at under 4 minutes, so there's no fat here, just pure prime cuts.
The opener, and title track comes across with a Jellyfish/Cheap Trick on steroids vibe, which is no real surprise as it features both Roger Joseph Manning Jr and Eric Dover , it's a sumptuous piece with a great hook and some killer guitar work.
'The Loner', again inhabits that fertile territory that Cheap Trick made their own in the mid to late 70`s, with an infectious blend of melody and muscle.
'Damsel In Distress' is the lead single and is a driving rock tune, that reminded me of the best works of Roy Wood/The Move, high praise indeed!
'Lessons That My Father Never Told Me', swoops and darts, and 'Hello Destiny' has a frantic, somewhat breathless delivery, but then 'Assassins' has an air of pomp and circumstance that evoked memories of Queen, and New Englandparticularly with its use of dynamics.
'Emily Lovelight' is a song that dates back to 2012, with a cracking slightly effete vocal delivery from Patrick and hits the spot with its Cheap Trickisms, and at times a bit of ELO thrown in for good measure.
'Turning It Up Too Loud Again', has a definite Beatles thing going on, particularly in how the vocals on the track are utilised, and 'What Would Your Friends Say', is Power Pop personified, and is reminiscent of one of this year's other pop/rock sensations, Brit rockers Tremendous.
'Celestial Worlds' is a mainly keyboard-driven song and it's a very atmospheric and thoughtful piece, one of my many personal highlights of the album, and then the album does a 180 with the almost Grunge/Punk trio of 'A Day At The Beach', 'Anatomic' and 'The Switchblade Symphony' but with all 3 still holding onto that all-important melody at their very core.
'Life Is A Stereo/Love Is A Soundtrack' is Farrington's homage to Sweet, and comes complete with its own take on the classic 'Fox On The Run' keyboard intro, and needless to say it's a winner all the way.
The album is rounded off with wonderfully titled 'Shooting Aeroplanes With A Laser Gun', and was never going to let the side down with, once more a gritty pop-rocker and an unerring sense of melody.
The album production is big and bold with an Arena size sheen, and some of the performances from the players are terrific, in particular drummer Marcos de la Cruz (who incidentally co-produces the album) and bassist Henry Clift holding the bottom end together, whilst the additional musicians weave their magic over the top of Farmington’s excellent vocals and carefully crafted songs.
Farrington makes no secret of his influences Cheap Trick, ELO, Sweet and even the Stone Temple Pilots, and does wear them proudly on his sleeve, but that doesn't mean to say that the music here is in any way derivative, far from it in fact. It's fresh and contemporary and very 2020. Simply put a stunning success!
You know I'd just finished writing up my end of year best of, but I've now having a major rethink as this album has ploughed up most, if not all the opposition, and that's some feat as there have been some stellar releases this year.
At the moment the album is available through the official bandcamp site as a digital download, but I understand there will be a vinyl version coming very soon.
Hey there hi there ho there!
Welcome back my friends to the EARS 2 U "TOP 25 ALBUMS OF 2020" Countdown!
The countdown started with 25 great albums, and we're down to the TOP THREE.
At #3, it's the second full-length album from FARRINGTON, and it's the absolutely insanely gloriously epic rock/pop "OMG! did that just happen?!" series of fifteen numbers entitled "SATURDAY IN NOWHERELAND".
Question for you readers: do you fancy an album that sounds like the most phenomenal musical memories of your record collections?
I don't want to specifically play "spot the influences" reviewing this album, but from the moment that the title track opens the show until its close nearly an hour later, if you are a discerning audiophile/musicologist, then you owe it to yourself to lose yourself in this masterpiece.
Big guitars? Check.
Bigger vocals? Check.
Production that will give you a series case of envy? Check.
James Patrick is not a stranger to the Left Coast rock scene...not by a long shot. And on this second FARRINGTON release, he called upon "a little help from his friends"...friends such as Jon Auer, Ken Stringfellow, and Frankie Siragusa from The Posies...friends such as Roger Joseph Manning, Jr., Eric Dover, and Tim Smith from Jellyfish and more recently The Lickerish Quartet...and the list of "guests" doesn't end there, but just those folks will give you a sense of what we have going on here: majestic music played and performed with a verve seldom seen in this day and age.
The "HOLY SHIT!" factor was there repeatedly throughout.
I think the last time I had this kind of initial reaction to ANY album was roughly back in 1993 upon hearing "SPILT MILK" by Jellyfish, and this FARRINGTON album isn't terribly far removed for that classic - at its best this reminds me of a marriage between Jellyfish and the terribly underappreciated FLOP from Seattle circa '93 on their legendary "WHENEVER YOU'RE READY"...
Kudos to the FARRINGTON family for such an amazing aural accomplishment...
Essential tracks: ALL OF THEM, but start here with the title track,
"DAMSEL IN DISTRESS", "HELLO DESTINY", "EMILY LOVELIGHT",
"WHAT WOULD YOUR FRIENDS SAY", "ANATOMIC", and "THE SWITCHBLADE SYMPHONY".
Turn this album up LOUD, and prepare to smile 'til it hurts.
One more quick note: this album will be released on CD & vinyl in 2021 - for right now, get the album at FARRINGTON's Bandcamp page! (Look under FARRINGTON79 as your link!)
Yet another album that in any other year, this would have EASILY been #1.
TWO MORE ALBUMS to go.
Stay tuned tomorrow night as we head to mid-America...
Title: Saturday in Nowhereland (Farrington)
You might like if you enjoy: ELO, The Lickerish Quartet, Badfinger, Cheap Trick, Pugwash
Tell me more: When you listen to Farrington's new album Saturday in Nowhereland prepare to be wowed. The songs often turn on a dime, blending tuneful melodic rock, psychedelic stylings, power pop and other sonic genres masterfully. The bewitching title track, delightfully dark "The Loner," Cheap Trick-flavored "Damsel In Distress" and ambitious "Assassins" are early-LP standouts. Saturday in Nowhereland continues its winning momentum with the melodic rocker "Emily Lovelight," gorgeous "Turning It Up Too Loud Again," boundless "A Day At The Beach," euphonic "Anatomic" and sumptuous "The Switchblade Symphony." In addition to the top-tier talents of singer-guitarist-keyboardist Farrington (James Patrick Phelan), drummer Marcos de la Cruz and bassist Henry Clift, a who's who of musical guests appears on the disc; Jon Auer (The Posies, Big Star), Eric Dover (Jellyfish, Imperial Drag), John Easedale (Dramarama), Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. (The Lickerish Quartet, Beck) and Bryan Shaddix (The Tickets) are a few of the notables who contribute to the magic. Information: FarringtonMusic.com.
Farrington | Pictures of Pretty Things (2019)
This monumental, audacious bundle of retro-fueled imagination, wackadoo musical composition and performance closes with a majestic, classically-influenced instrumental in which impassioned orchestration and lyrical guitar work play as the audience exits the auditorium–you being the audience and your music listening room being the auditorium.
But don’t exit the auditorium just yet: hang in there for the last 12 seconds of this album’s title track, the very last track, when a burst of packed-tight harmony voices shouting “Pretty things!” bounces off the walls like a Spalding® High-Bounce Handball. It’s a reminder of what you’ve just heard: a never-mind-the- boundaries kind of album in which glam meets pop meets rock meets all sorts of other stuff, too.
Farrington’s Pictures of Pretty Things packs a box set’s worth of ideas and musical manipulations into just about 35 minutes of– what’s the word I used up top? Audacious? Well, audacious it all is, without a doubt.
Farrington, aka mad musical scientist James Patrick, works his magic in a Queen frame of mind, singing like a glam superstar with a pure pop heart. And save for a few harder-edged rockers, the artist stays put squarely in a melodic pop sandbox which, for my tastes, is an eminently satisfying domicile.
Piano and other keyboards, played with passion, save for one song, by Farrington, majorly drive these songs, although the drums, played by co-producer Marcos de la Cruz, also pack quite a desirable punch. Anthony King, playing a good chunk of the guitar and bass parts, and other fine folks, including Kai Danzberg
and Fernando Perdomo, help to make this astounding mix of great songs and performances a towering achievement. These songs are all about the sound and how the hooks aplenty grab hold of you and don’t let go.
Achieving towering status are any number of top-drawer tunes, including the ultra-poppy “The Love Show,” a mid-tempo Queen- tinged song which is ultimately about love, love, love; the power- poppy “Long Way to Nowhere,” ultimately about the power of music (“Blondie dancing in a heart of glass / She makes me dizzy”); and “When I Was You,” an uptempo beat-driven pop song about ultra-disappointment in a doomed relationship (“I wish you were dead, she said / Yeah, I guess the feeling is more than mutual / So take me back to yesterday / When I was you”).
These songs are all about the sound; frankly, I’m not entirely sure what most of these songs are about, but they sure sound good as good can be. “Blue,” a mid-tempo pop-rocker bops ahead with a decidedly Sweet “Love is Like Oxygen” vibe that is intensely infectious. And “Violins,” another poppy pick-to-click, tells the tale of a girl in a shaky relationship who finds solace in the sound of violins (“She listens to violins / And her imagination runs wild again / She listens to violins / The music makes her smile again”).
A box set’s worth of magical ideas imaginatively whipped into shape by a mad musical scientist who knows how to mix just the right ingredients, Pictures of Pretty Things is one heck of an achievement.
Title: Pictures of Pretty Things (Magic Stone Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Jeff Lynne's ELO, Queen, David Bowie
Tell me more: Farrington's debut album Pictures of Pretty Things is both ambitious and melodic, drawing positive comparisons with notable recordings from Badfinger, Electric Light Orchestra, Queen and Cheap Trick. Farrington — the moniker for tunesmith/singer/multi-instrumentalist James Patrick — and a super-talented group of surrounding players (including guitarist-bassist Anthony King, vocalist Nikki Paige, drummer Marcos de la Cruz and backing vocalist Kai Danzberg) have crafted a memorable disc that is rooted in the past while also striking a claim in the here and now via inventive songcraft and bona fide power. Standouts abound on the 14-track masterwork; the shimmer of "Blue," pulsating piano-anchored "Stupid Plastic War" and the Bowiesque "Maybe If You Leave Her" impress with a single listen. The glam punk-styled "Long Way to Nowhere," tuneful "Long Way to Nowhere" and "When I Was You, and the tender ballad "The Love Show" showcase an artist able to create musical magic at every turn. When Farrington sings "Music Is The Drug" who would dare argue? Information: https://farington.hearnow.com.
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