Billy Fisher Fitzgerald
The track, Billy Fisher Fitzgerald, is available via:
The E.P., Passionate Leave, is available via:
27th November, 2018
I am not sure how many reviews I will do...
before next year - but I am still finding little treats that prove 2018 is certainly not over. I will talk about One-Way Song in a bit but, before then, I wanted to look at bands who take a more poetic and literary approach to music; influences and sounds that should come back into music more; northern sounds and why we need to re-shift our focus; a bit about unique songwriting – I will end by looking at the 2019 of One-Way Song. I have reviewed a lot of music this year and it has been great to see all the different sounds poking through. I do not feel like I have really touched the surface and I wonder whether it is ever possible to truly know what new music sounds like. There is such a wealth and range out there – spread around the world – that it is daunting and impossible to tame. I hope to step things up next and focus on the bigger artists around but it has been rewarding getting to see some smaller artists making early steps and showing real promise. I love what One-Way Song are doing because there is an originality to them that sort of stands aside. Actually, before I continue on this point; I do wonder whether there is any sort of way we can funnel and organise music so that people like me can specifically target the sounds we want to feature. I have pitched this before but rather than wading through a sea of music; have a website that acts like a search engine where we can put in our criteria – ‘New York’, ‘Hip-Hop’ would be one example – and narrow down our focus to a very particular sonic and physical location. I mention this because, through no fault of the artists, I have been sent a lot of the same stuff. I have not really reviewed much Hip-Hop or Grime; been remiss when it comes to whole swathes of new music but, unless you know where to look, it can be really tough to find those artists. I digress but, in a way, it brings me to One-Way Song. One could not accuse them of being a Hip-Hop act but their music certainly is different to what I have been assessing lately.
One might see the words ‘poetic’ and ‘literary’ tied to music and shudder at what could come through – something rather arty and pretentious with no real substance and meaning. Some artists do create that way but, when looking at Manchester’s One-Way Song, they can balance the accessible and familiar and heighten that through a literary prism. Rather than solely write about love and ordinary heartache; they study these characters and figures that seem relatable and like us but have that extra edge to them. It is hard to explain without bringing a song into play but you get something quite fantastical. It is no surprise seeing as band member Luke Gifedder is a playwright himself! He can bring this sort of dramatic and evocative edge to the songs and, with his bandmates, concoct these potent and multifarious tales. It is hard to stray away from the trodden path of anxiety and heartache and I understand why artists are sticking to it like a wet tongue on ice. If you go through the breakups and have inner strains then you will want to project that on the page. I get that but it is the dogged over-reliance on this subject that frosts my cake. It is hard for some people to inject any form of optimism and expression into songs that are, let’s be fair, a bit of a drag. I want to discover music that makes me forget about my own troubles and concerns – One-Way Song manage to achieve this. I am not suggesting for a minute that every artist rations themselves when it comes to love and themes like that. I wonder where are the songwriters who could leave those sort of topics at the door and come into the studio with a more open and curious mind. I am reminded of one sadly-departed and missed songwriter, Mark E. Smith. It is no coincidence I mention his name: Keiron Melling produced One-Way Song’s Billy Fisher Fitzgerald and it seems like there are some touches of The Fall in the song. There is not quite the same spit, edginess and accent as one got from Smith but track the lyrics and a certain wit in the song and it is easy to make those parallels.
Smith, in my view, is one of the last real songwriting pioneers who has paved a way for the new generation. The trouble with only writing about love and that sort of thing is that people are not going to be motivated and inspired by it. Fewer new artists are taking the lead of Mark E. Smith and figuring their own blend of his style. Some might say it is sacrilege to drink at the feet of the late genius but I am not suggesting people rip him off wholesale. I have heard a few One-Way Song songs and, in each moment, I can sense the spirit of Smith in the music. Maybe it is the vocals and a distinct northern perspective; a fresh way of writing that seduces the mind or a sensation that gets into the blood and stays in the mind. Whatever it is, I feel like more new bands/acts should follow One-Way Song and what they are doing – or at least straying away from a cliché road and experiment more in 2019. Next year is an exciting and hopeful one and I would like new acts to shape up. There are some brilliant ones who are exempt from my concerns but far too many who lack spirit and original content. One-Way Song are one of these bands who have a loyal and small following but will build on that because of their striking and unusual style of songwriting. I have mentioned how they have a poetic and literary approach to songwriting but maybe it is more character-driven. Perhaps it is a northern way of writing that we also need to shine a light on. I want to stick with influences and different sounds before I move onto a new subject. Let us consider those special and away-from-the-popular-crowd songwriters and wonder why few are trying to follow their lead. I have mentioned Mark E. Smith and, if the band does not object, I will stay at his side…
Maybe it is going to be hard for any new act to adapt what they do and become more Fall-esque. One-Way Song do not have the same jagged cynicism and gruffness as The Fall’s leader but there is a quality that puts me in mind of their music. Maybe Melling’s producing has pointed my mind that way but there is a lot about One-Way Song I can compare with The Fall. The guys have a fondness for history and poetry; they prefer to write about characters and sides of life that do not often make their way into the mainstream and there is a nice combination of humour, intelligence and interesting angles. I will end the review by speaking about the band’s future and why they can make big strides in 2019 but they have already accomplished a lot. It is hard to really touch on any other influences of One-Way Song but I get little elements of certain artists. Maybe that freshness is a good thing and you certainly do not grope too heavily in the direction of others. The band’s E.P., Passionate Leave, is out and it is filled with wonderful songs that warrant repeated spins. The band, on the E.P., have channelled the Vorticism (an art and poetry movement around the time of the First World War) and they have reimagined how they would write if they lived in this century. That in itself is a unique starting point so it is wonderful digging into the songs and pulling them apart. I am reminded of someone like Paddy McAloon, actually – a man I have been mentioning a little bit lately. The Prefab Sprout lead is another one of those northern songwriters who can study characters and take a less personal but more original approach to music. McAloon is bringing out some new music next year and, on all of his albums, he has delighted and stunned people with his incredible songwriting gift. There is nobody like him but, in a slight manner, I can detect the influence of songwriting leaders like McAloon in newcomers such as One-Way Song.
Perhaps it is something in the water but I am finding the more able and interesting songwriters are coming from the North. It might be the way they can shout above the London crowd or a natural reflection of the local people and the way they speak. Perhaps there is more commercial pressure in the South but there is something wonderful happening in the North. You can say this is nothing new and, when you look at the most fascinating and original songwriters from the past few decades – from Mark E. Smith and Morrissey through to Paul Heaton and Alex Turner – they all have called the North their home. I do feel like there is a divide when it comes to creation and the style of music. It has been the way, for a long time, the mainstream and press have gravitated towards the South. Maybe it is easier to bond with music that is perhaps a little less challenging. Northern artists have a spirit and mannerism that is all theirs and I feel they expend more effort when it comes to songwriting nuance and personality. Look at a band like One-Way Song and you have a continuation of this rich and inspiring northern tapestry. Their name comes from a poem by Wyndham Lewis (who founded Vorticism) and One-Way Song incorporate video and theatre into their live performances. The guys match art and theatre with music to create a more immersive and memorable experience. I love gigs that are traditional and straight-forward but it is good to see artists trying something new and providing a more captivating show. This year has seen Talking Heads’ leader David Byrne take his latest album, American Utopia, on the road. There is dance and lecturing at his shows; an almost theatrical approach to music and, as such, reviewers have been blown away. His multimedia, sense-moving show brings us the hits new and old but there are other layers that mean you are not just witnessing a music show – it is almost like a religious conversion!
Maybe One-Way Song are a way off of doing something similar but they do have a similar approach to a live show. Other artists like St. Vincent and Christine and the Queens have pushed the boundaries of live performances and, in an age where there is mass competition and lacking focus, they have caused a storm. I will end this section by combining northern sounds and the live experience. I think we are too beholden to artists in London and it can be a bit sad seeing so many great northern artists neglected. One-Way Song are making their way and doing fine but they are still in an area of the world that is not getting the acclaim and parental guidance it needs. There are a load of brilliant acts coming from cities like Manchester and I know for a fact what a stunning and varied scene there is right now. I speculated how northern artists have a different personality and musical perspective compared to the rest of the music landscape. In 2019, I think the media needs to open up their eyes and point their telescope the way of the North. Maybe not as extreme as focusing all their energy there but at least keeping focused on what is coming from there. I do feel like a lot of the future stars are making music in the North right now and maybe the press attention is not as hot and loyal as we’d like. I shall move on from this point in a bit but I feel One-Way Song have a great locker of colours and gems that will see them succeed and get into the mainstream. I have mentioned fallen gods like Mark E. Smith – we need songwriters that have that strange and wonderful edge that would make things a lot more interesting. Let us move to a great song from their E.P., Passionate Leave, and celebrate a unique band who are primed for some very good things before too long.
One gets some futuristic echoes and electronics that open up Billy Fisher Fitzgerald. I was expecting this old-age character that lived in the early part of the last century and was known for his rather lugubrious and addictive personality – someone who can often be found walking the street drunk and ‘delighting’ the crowds. Maybe that is a rather harsh predication but one has their own views and impressions when faced with that name. We experience something warped and tripping that beckons this rather strange and wonderful song. I have mentioned The Fall and one half-expects Mark E. Smith to come in with his distinct drawl and unique take on life. What we do get is something more unexpected and, perhaps, more accessible. There are two skies, as the lead says, and the song transforms from this warping and cosmic slow to something rushed and pummelling. The song’s hero is someone who has a very alive and distinct personality and one of those people who sticks in the mind. There is a truth and reality behind the song but one is free to imagine and discover their own story. I was thinking about someone who liked a drink but had a charming heart. Maybe there is a deeper truth and darkness but one is hooked by the song. I was transfixed by the energy and sheer boldness of the song but it is when we get some echoed and Fall-like vocals that the hairs really stood up. The lead is announcing himself as the song’s hero and meeting our acquaintance. From the spacey and weird opening to the rush that follows – we are not slowed right down and the song goes in a new direction. I loved listening to the isolated and echoed/augmented vocal that punctuates the song and treats things like a story. We have had a foreword and now the first chapter has begun. There are backing vocals that support Luke Gifedder and the whole song has a real unity and sense of togetherness.
The guitars strut and swagger and allow the song breathe and run. The percussion is solid and physical and the combination is heady and wonderful. The vocals, one might feel, would not match the composition but there is a natural blend that means everything hangs together wonderfully. The professional and assured production shines and highlights every aspect but keeps things dirty and not too clean. A conversation takes place and we hear Fitzgerald join the fray. He has already introduced himself and there is development. Our man has a rather original and memorable personality and does not seem to care what people think of him. One-Way Song have created this song that is like a play; a scene that brings in distinct characters and lets the listener conspire and dream. It is hard not to think of The Fall when the fuzzed vocals have an element of Mark E. Smith. There are two skies still and two-tone shoes; the news says that Billy is back in town and people are being made aware. It is almost like this big event seeing the hero come into town. The band mix the odd and standout dialogue with a sound that is more traditional and familiar. When the song races and campaigns, you get sensations of 1990s Alternative and there is a clear quality that rings in the ears. It is wonderful seeing the two rather distant worlds clash in this epic song. On the one hand, you have a fresh and peppy sound that is singalong and catchy and then there is something weirder that brings in this figure that has lived quite a life! Everyone will have their own impression of what Billy Fisher Fitzgerald looks like and why he has such a reputation. I was amazed at how easy it was to drift away and think about this figure that is on everyone lips.
He has left town and might have had a sworded past but I’d like to think there is a lot of good in him and he is one of those people easy to love. Whatever the real truth is; one cannot overcome the charm and appeal of the song. You listen to it time and time again and pick up things that were missed the first time around. I kept going back and was amazed at how the song stays in the mind and you will be humming lines. One-Way Song have been playing a little while and they sound utterly focused and united throughout. Here is a band that stands aside from the crowd and really do have a wonderful way of doing things. I think they will go onto do a lot of good in 2019 and they can really clean up. There is nothing like them right now and I feel a lot more people will want to hear songs like Billy Fisher Fitzgerald. The song is fourth on the E.P. and gives Passionate Leave a real spark and sense of personality. Not that the rest of the songs lack that but I was more drawn to this number – it has its own skin and an impact that is really interesting and potent. You will listen to Billy Fisher Fitzgerald and want to come back time and time again. Perhaps it is suggestions and elements of The Fall or the way the lyrics project stories and wonderful visions. I was attracted to so many things and love how One-Way Song do things. You will want to get behind the band and follow them into 2019. Here, on this one song, they show what a force they are and are very different to everyone out there. In a music scene that is packed and busy; it is rare to see a band stand out and shine so brightly. Let’s hope this momentum, focus and sense of quality continues next year. I also hope the media gets behind One-Way Song and ensures they get one step closer to the mainstream. The guys deserve that and, I feel, they are primed for very good things. It is very exciting seeing this young group grow and blossom into something very strong and dynamic.
I have talked a lot about the North and various aspects that are particular to One-Way Song. Passionate Leave is a fantastic E.P. that is full of body and life. I think there is a lot more this E.P. can give and I need to listen to it a lot more. What amazes me about the band is their approach to performance and how they are mixing art alongside music. This year has been defined by a more political approach to music – the best albums – and the finest live performances have gone beyond the basic stage-band set-up and transformed what a musician can do. I think One-Way Song have the promise to match the likes of David Byrne with their shows and the music has a very wondrous and captivating quality. Billy Fisher Fitzgerald is part of a five-song E.P. that is solid, rounded and detailed. There are some nods towards conventional avenues but what separates One-Way Song from the rest is the way they can put characters and eye-opening personalities into the fold and create their own world. Many bands might try this sort of approach and fail in their ambitions. There is a tightness and focus within One-Way Song that makes the music solid and nuanced without losing focus. You swim in this ocean of imagination and wonderful images and are helpless to resist. I feel there is a lot more to come from the Manchester band and they are turning heads right now. Make sure you investigate the group and check out where they are headed. I have experienced a lot of great new music in 2018 and it is fitting to end (almost) this year with a solid and special band that go beyond the familiar and routine. I think it is the original tones and angles that makes the band so appealing and promising.
Maybe mentioning The Fall’s Mark E. Smith was a rash decision but I feel there are similarities. Look at the way Smith wrote songs and the sort of people he brought in. Maybe they were slightly grubbier and more personal than One-Way Song but I applaud any artist that steps away from the mass of the traditional and does something bold. I want to experience music that brings something new to the plate and nourishes my mind in a new way. It is good to see One-Way Song progress and I can see them going a long way in the industry. Things are almost done in 2018 and they will want to rest for a little bit. It is a well-deserved rest because the guys have been busy indeed. They have performed local shows and taken their music to the people; their E.P. has garnered some great reviews and people are starting to respond in a very direct and passionate way. It would be remiss of me to make big predictions but there is nothing to suggest the band will remain local for much longer. It is a tough industry with lots of fish in the sea but those who have sharp teeth and can swim fast are primed for glory. By that, I mean One-Way Song have a sound and style all of their own; they are hungry and ambitious and I can see all of that effort paying off. I am predicting which acts are going to storm things next year and can easily put One-Way Song in that group. It has been a successful year for the band and I think they will take even bigger steps next year. Maybe there will be an E.P. or album but I hope they continue to create great songs and get their music to the people. Many here in the South will want to see them and I feel there will be ample demand for their music here. I am excited to see where they head and what the next move is. I know the guys will already have plans but I think the media needs to react to their work and start looking more closely to the North. It is still deprived and overlooked (compared to the South) and that is a huge shame. I have found so many great northern treasures this year and feel like they all deserve their place. Maybe things will change in 2019 – and the media will correct things – but I think the likes of One-Way Song are going a long way to putting northern music into focus. I shall end things here but suggest people listen to their E.P., Passionate Leave. It has been a wonderful 2018 for One-Way Song and I know they will continue to build on this. Get behind them and ensure you do not let these excellent musicians...
PASS you by.
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