Daily Archives: July 19, 2010

374. Darren Hanlon – “Pointing Rayguns at Pagans”

This album has provoked me to provide you with some back history on my Hanlonisation process.

I first encountered him as the most outgoing and down-to-earth member of The Simpletons, and delighted in his first excursion to the mic on their tune Danielle.

I then recall seeing him step out for a short solo set one night at the Empress Hotel, entertaining us with a collection of shambolic but endearing tracks. The rest is history (his subsequent JJJ fame from his first EP on, global domination etc).

This CD is a collection of his non-album work, mainly single B-sides and tracks from the various Candle Records compilations. Unfortunately, as far as my memory can recall, it only features one of the elusive tracks he played at that Empress gig – banjo-heavy Pinball Millionaire.

I already owned most of the tracks on here, and in an iTunes world having them together on a CD carries less premium than it once did (a couple were only on 7″, so there is a digital gain).  The collection is a nice patchwork of his varying dalliances. The cover of Fischer-Z’s Perfect Day is a delight:

As usual there are lots of little vignettes about life’s key moments here, whether it be birthdays, Xmas, trips to funparks, travel or video party sleepovers. They gel reasonably well, but this is a little too much of a hodge podge to really delight. And I still want to hear When the Girls Get Here and the song about the drummer from that debut show.

File under: For completists and Fischer-Z fans

373. Darren Hanlon – “Fingertips and Mountaintops”

As I was saying, Dazza Hanlon has been one a clear trajectory away from guitar-strumming to much more complex musical compositions.

I am not the most sophisticated music listener, nor a particularly patient man.  As such, I have grown a little disheartened with my relationship with the Hanlon oeuvre.

I have found his songs harder to get into.  So, spending some time with this album has been a welcome opportunity to see if I’ve been too harsh.

First, I should say that Daz can still nail a lyrical composition like few others. The tale of bumping into (literally) a movie star on Elbows is a praiseworthy feat of storytelling and metaphor:

Couch Surfing is a welcome throwback to his earlier songwriting.  The combo of Don’t Bogart my Heart and Happiness is a Chemical are well-constructed expositions on love.  The latter has a fun video where Dazza reveals Glee-like dance prowess:

The epic Manila NSW sees Hanlon opening up a whole new possible career in the world of musical theatre. The rest of the album leaves me very cold unfortunately, with none of those tracks sticking in my memory at all.  But half a great album is better than a whole average one.

File under: Tickling fancy, but unable to maintain peaks