Double Edged Swords
Having recently been championed by Steve Lamacq on BBC 6Music, as well as performing with the likes of John Cooper Clarke, TV Smith, Miles Hunt and more, Ian Passey returns under the Humdrum Express monicker with another slice of biting, observational acoustic wit, poetically lamenting everyday life in a somewhat unique and infectious manner.
Double Edged Swords sees Ian return to what he does best, choppy (almost acoustic ska) , upbeat acoustic guitar, contagious melodic punk crooning and a collection of one liners such as the instantly infectious hook of “just when you think things maybe going your way, you realise you can’t win, its like being offered a slot on later with Jools, as along as you let him join in”.
The short, spritely ode will have you nodding in agreement, smiling knowingly and singing a-long with glee, as Ian laments former Arsenal striker, Alan Smith, Roy Chubby Brown fans and the humble supermarket bag packer as Ian once again soundtracks life’s ups and downs with an addictive, knowing nod and a wink.
Ian Passey is one of life’s great musical commentators, a singer-songwriter that never fails to deliver, whether you’re a long standing fan or a Humdrum Express newbie, I urge you to seek out his rather essential new single Double Edged Swords.
Will Munn, Rhythm & Booze 2015
(Failed Escapes From The) Clone Town Blues
A Birmingham ex-pat now based in Kidderminster, amusingly tagged as an ‘insensitive singer/songwriter” proffering up-tempo exasperation, poetic put-downs and bitter-sweet tales of delusion, Ian Passey fronts (indeed, is) THE HUMDRUM EXPRESS. Working with multi-instrumentalist/producer Mick Lown, he’s just self-released his third album, (Failed Escapes From The) Clone Town Blues, described in the press release as ‘a mix of wit, social commentary, bandy legs and glasses’ with subjects that include depressing urban homogeneity (Clone Town Blues), unsigned band rivalry (Roll Out The Red Carpet), the seemingly irreversible trend of media-interactivity, a musical essay on modern football (Fans Lost Forever), depressing 80s band reunions (Back In The Day) and, on Give It A Whirl, the tragic death of Michael Lush who, some may recall, died in 1986 while rehearsing a bungee jump for the Late, Late Breakfast Show. That his label’s named Cynical Thrills give you an idea of where he’s coming from lyrically, reinforced by the track Cynical Thrill Seeker itself which includes observations on ‘the baffling popularity of operatic stadium fillers Muse’, how ‘fifty odd school kids performing a dance routine to “Mickey” by Toni Basil should play no part in any sporting fixture’ and whether you can really make excuses for ‘pub quiz cheats, nasal newsreaders and do-gooders who give up alcohol for the whole of January? Copy and paste philosophers, ground floor gaffers and small groups of men who tinker with engines on their rare days off work.’ Musically, it tends to rely on basic strummed guitar and matching chords, but Lown adds extra flourishes like the bluegrass banjo of Botox Lunch Break, the motorik keyboard and beats of Get Involved and what may well be a uke on Throwaway Pop. Less earnest and more playful in his social critiques than Billy Bragg, it’ll be no surprise to lean he’s shared bills with kindred spirits such as Half Man Half Biscuit, John Cooper Clarke and Miles Hunt, while the chugging Morons On My Mind suggests he has a fair few early Jam records in the collection too even if the chorus melody does sound a little like Bryan Adams’ Summer of 69.
Change of scene with our second hidden treasure of the week, The Humdrum Express new album, "Forward Defensive".
For more than 10 years, Ian Passey, the band's singer-songwriter, has been building a discography that is both deeply English and fiercely personal ... And this new album continues to dig this furrow, between social observation without concessions, sharp humour and infinite tenderness... Musically, there are no blinkers, Ian Passey's genius is to make various musical styles his own with a disconcerting ease ... He is undoubtedly one of the true and talented activists of English rock and it's high time that France gave him a welcome worthy of his talent!
In any case, Le Village Pop will not give up!