Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler...Former teacher... Scientist... Published author... Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published August 19th 2019
5 tracks, 1 piece of brilliance
As some of my regular readers will have realised, I do not just stick with the mainstream when it comes to my listening and reading pleasure. Many of the Australian albums I have reviewed have come from independent labels, and I have started to give some love to some of the small press and self-published books that cross my path.
The reason for this is simple – people not beholden to the big companies can get away with being more experimental, more personal and less geared towards being commercial. What the big corporations tend to demand is something that conforms to what they think the public wants, and this all too often results in blandness. Unless you have been around for years, you must kowtow to the bean-counters.
That is why I love independents and smalls. There is a far greater hit to miss ration than with the stuff you see in the major stores.
Well, I recently came across a website from the United Kingdom called In Music We Trust. It struck me because they proudly advertise that 50% of their profits from the clothing range go to mental health charities. That is something quite personal to me, and so I had a look. The man who runs the site is also a fine musician, and so I bought the album he had advertised.
After an Australia Post delay, it finally arrived.
Chapter One by Aiden Hatfield is a five-track EP, but all five tracks are great. No, I mean it. The fact I am writing a review tells you I like it, but it is truly awesome. Apparently, it was released back in March of this year (2019), so, once again, I am late to this particular party. Don't care. I am going to tell you why you should buy this.
First, the music is rock. Straightforward rock music. It would probably be labelled indy rock or the like, but it is rock music. It has a slightly retro feel to it, without the over-production that seems to infiltrate a lot of modern music by younger bands. It is guitars and drums and it really rocks, with fine musicianship and a singer who can actually sing. It is one of the best rock albums by a young performer I have heard in ages, who does not come from Australia.
And what really sets the album apart from so many of its contemporaries are the lyrics. They are deep and speak of personal issues that often get short shrift in popular culture. He manages to pack emotion into 4-minute rock songs, genuine emotion. He has lived and felt these lyrics.
The album opens with 'This Is Never Ending'. This a driving, pounding rock song, but with lyrics like: "This is never ending, we are both descending to the floor/ Crippled and depending on each other/ Fending through our own personal war…" this is not an ordinary song. This is a song of emotion and power. This is a relationship that is not simply "I love you…" and that sets this whole EP apart from many others. This was also the first single and it is my favourite track. What an opener! And then that spoken word outro…
Next up is 'Say it Again' which has a chorus that sticks with you. "Is this goodbye?/ Will we pretend?... There is a sadness about it that is belied by the music, with a nice fuzz-tone backing guitar. Aiden's singing on this track is finely melodic. I can see this being a live favourite.
'I Never Cared' follows. "I never asked for the attention…", "I'm scared of me, too"… the lyrics are dark, which goes against the feel of the song, which is full of life. It is a nice juxtaposition that works really well. And the guitar solo is (in my opinion) the best one on the album.
Things slow down for 'Fallen To Pieces', a well-timed changed of pace. "You make me feel like I've fallen to pieces/ I don't mind…" tells you that, again, this is no ordinary relationship. This also sounds like the most personal song on the album. "Do you think I'd ever care if you were never there/ Do you think I'd never chase you down…"
And we finish with 'This Horror In Me', a song about coping with mental health. It is an honest song, one which is punctuated with some great playing. It has the feel of an early Paramore track, but it is not derivative. It stands on its own. It ends with over-layered vocals and a wall of guitars and the music is full of hope, even if the lyrics have a darker tinge to them. What a way to close out the album.
Aiden Hatfield is a mental health advocate, who discusses his mental health issues on social media and is an advocate for better treatment of people with mental health issues. The fact he has managed to keep his own depression under control and become such a positive force out there with his music and his clothing company is something that everyone should support. The fact his t-shirt designs are great and his music is fantastic is like that icing on the cake.
One problem, though, about an EP like this is that it makes me realise how inadequate my own song-writing is. Aiden shows that, like Laura Imbruglia and Alex Lahey, these young artists are just leaving me in their wake. They are writing songs of depth and emotion and intelligence that is just not replicated by enough others out there of a similar age. These are the sorts of artists who deserve to have greater exposure.
To close, let me say that I hope Aiden will get out to Australia one day; I would love to catch him live. Judging by this EP, it would be a show worth going along to. Oh, and buy one of the awesome t-shirts or other items for sale. I got me a t-shirt; it's fantastic!
My son is a Community Radio broadcaster. Has his own radio programme 'Aussie Music Weekly' networked via community radio around Australia. He only plays Australian artists (up coming and established). He'd love that T shirt.