Motivational Wall Art
Online Beer Club
Blue Plaque Building
Message Board Hooligan
Curse Of The Modern Musician
Pop Culture Musings
Fading Stars On Social Media
The King Of Spain
Chased By The Grammar Police
Running Time: 36 mins
The Humdrum Express – Ultracrepidarian Soup (Cynical Thrills Records)
Whenever I receive a CD to review from an artiste I know next to nothing about, it’s always that much more special when it turns out to be good. Although The Humdrum Express is the brainchild of Midlands singer/songwriter Ian Passey, of whom Atilla The Stockbroker described as “the missing link between Billy Bragg and Half Man Half Biscuit”, this new album is his first collection to showcase a full band.
“I wasn’t sure whether the term “concept album” was exclusively for chin-strokers, but the aim was to attempt to document the quirks of social media and the resulting knock on effect. I got the idea after releasing ‘E-Petition’ just over two years ago. The song ‘Online Beer Club’ followed as the writing progressed and here we are, at last, with the finished project!”
(Self) described as an energetic blend of swirling indie clatter, Oxfam mod and art-punk-pop, the group is made up of musicians from his favourite Midlands bands, who have now been gigging together (when schedules allow) for a couple of years. Featuring Flying Ant Day’s Andrew Boswell and Carl Bayliss, Sleuth main man Chris Taylor-Ashcroft and The Smokin’ Pilchards sax-god Ted Cartwright. The songs however are 100% Ian Passey.
The album is laced with the sort of humour and clever linguistics that fans of Carter USM, Half Man Half Biscuit and Beans On Toast love, except without the swearing in the case of the latter.
It’s a collection of songs about the time we live in, covering Peaky Blinders, Mobile Phones at gigs, half and half football scarves, Brexit, Hipsters, Instagram likes, Craft Beers and keyboard warriors, those faceless cowards of Social Media, who probably take Viagra eye drops so they can look fucking hard!
Opening track Motivational Wall Art covers all those annoying 21st soundbites, nightclub toilet selfies, Black Friday, Waistcoat Wednesdays, novelty ties, transfer deadline day failings to name but a few, but hey don’t despair because the sales of Wilko’s canvasses with words and phrases like Love, Believe, Family Is Important and Prosecco Time, are through the roof. He even finds time to get a dig in at Morrissey with the line “and news of singers I once liked, say nothing to me about my life!”
Apparently “beer tastes better when you know a bit more about it” runs the line in Online Beer Club, consuming ale and listening to his vinyl in a hipster paradise! A simple swinging track with a nice piece of organ work and sub-Stones “woo hoos”.
Blue Plaque Parking and E-petition could easily be HMHB songs and that’s not a criticism. We’re not talking blatant plagiarism either just good puns that Nigel Blackwell would be proud of.
My personal favourite Message Board Hooligan describes the trolls who inhabit cyber space, “If it’s not half-term, where did that come from? Just been threatened with the Caps Lock on!”
The humour runs deep throughout, underpinning the serious comments and subject matters that Ian holds a mirror up to. Don’t expect anything musically that you haven’t heard before but this collection of songs is an immensely enjoyable diversion as we hurtle into Boris’s Post-Brexit Britain.
Produced by Mick Lown, Ultracrepidarian Soup is out now and available on vinyl, as well as the usual CD and digital formats.
“I’m fulfilling a lifelong dream by releasing it on vinyl. It’s still my preferred way to listen to music and to have one of my own records at home in the collection has given me a real sense of achievement.”
For Fans of: Half Man Half Biscuit, Beans On Toast, Carter USM, Filthy Pedro.