With apologies to our man Brad, there we have some unpublished content from last fall to work through as we get started up again. We’ll intersperse these pieces with newer and upcoming tracks over the next couple of weeks. Thanks for welcoming us back into your, um, ears.[gn_button link=”http://one-track-mind.com/audio/richardhawley.mp3″ color=”#72e389″ size=”1″ style=”1″ dark=”0″ radius=”auto” target=”self”]DOWNLOAD[/gn_button]
Up to this point in his career, Richard Hawley has managed to be one of those British-only phenomena that doesn’t translate to the United States, like Atomic Kitten or calling desserts that are obviously cakes “pudding.” He started out as the guitarist for The Longpigs, a second-tier combo of the ‘90s Brit-pop explosion, then after that band’s dissolution signed on with Pulp, who are also a much bigger deal in the U.K. than the U.S., but at least more people here have heard of them than have heard of The Longpigs. He’s since gone on to a solo career that has made him a household name in America on par with Rachel Stevens – his biggest exposure here occurred when his exquisite “Tonight the Streets Are Ours” was featured prominently in the documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop. (Ed. note: Danny thinks this has more to do with the fact that the song served as his wedding recessional but supposes that some things will always remain a mystery.)
He’s much better known in his homeland, however, where his solo career has deservedly garnered him a fair bit of acclaim. He’s a well-respected man amongst his peers in the U.K., working with the likes of Jarvis Cocker and Robbie Williams, and has been nominated for the prestigious Mercury Prize twice, including in 2012. The first time he got the nod was in 2004, when he was beat out by the epitome of “huge in England, ‘huh?’ in America” Arctic Monkeys, whose Alex Turner quipped, “Richard Hawley was robbed!” upon collecting his trophy and went on to invite Hawley to work with the Monkeys on numerous occasions. Hawley is also a 2013 Brit Award nominee in the flatteringly broad “Best British Male” category.
The album that’s gotten Hawley nominated recently is his seventh solo long player, Standing at the Sky’s Edge, which marks something of a change of direction for Hawley. Previous Hawley solo discs have been in the literate singer-songwriter vein of Leonard Cohen, Scott Walker, and Hawley’s buddy Jarvis Cocker. On Standing at the Sky’s Edge, Hawley returns to the harder-rocking, vaguely psychedelic stylings of The Longpigs and demonstrates that he’s lost none of his ability to crank it to 11.
“Leave Your Body Behind You,” the album’s lead-off single, demonstrates that in spades. With a title that nods to The Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Hawley surrounds his processed voice in howling guitar noise and offers up an account of either death or transcendence, depending on whether your glass is half-full or half-empty. The song climaxes with a massive layering of voices chanting the title before collapsing into a blizzard of guitar noise. It’s the sound of a longtime rocker reasserting his noisy bonafides.
Although last year’s Mercury Prize (and its £20,000 in prize money and boost in sales) went to Alt-J, it’s hard to think of anyone more deserving of the honor than Richard Hawley.
Click here to listen to Standing at the Sky’s Edge on Spotify.