Friday, October 24, 2008

FDF Volume 2 Issue 113 : Kitchens of Distinction - Strange Free World

By: March

Album - Strange Free World
Artist - Kitchens of Distinction
Key Players - Patrick Fitzgerald - vocals and bass, Julian Swales - guitar, Dan Goodwin - drums
Produced By - Hugh Jones

Release Date - February 19, 1991

What caused me to blow off the dust? - I have been meaning to do this for a long while. When I began to listen to this once more I was remembering the two singles mostly. Some buddies and I spent some time with this record and some beers over the course of the year. Its not a party record, but one you'd put on after most people left. Listening now I am amazed how much of an influence they are on some of the modern rock/indie/alternative bands I enjoy. The guitar work is beyond great as well.

Overview - This is the second release from London based Kitchens of Distinction. The band who got their name from a company that, well, does Kitchens of Distinction. The band made up of three friends would find the most success commercially with this record. The band, sort of pigeonholed as a "shoegazer" band had a different take musically than some of their peers. The band would struggle with later releases due to the lyrical content of some of the tracks. They'd disband in 1996 after a total of four releases.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - The band opens up with a wonderful track "Railwayed". The "full" sound this band gets is amazing. They are not a "power trio" in the strong sense of the word, but the mix is perfect. The guitar solo chimes over the final verse as the track fades out. A great opener. All this leads in to "Quick as Rainbows" which was a radio single (more college radio based) and it slowly fades up to ringing bass and guitar. Fitzgerald is in fine voice with easy croons as the chorus comes up. We hear the great guitar wall on this track that becomes a staple of the record. Its a blend of delay and acoustic guitar that just washes over everything. All this is how the track winds down. On the track "Hypnogogic" the bass brings up the track with some short drum rolls before the full drum sounds covers the track. The guitar doesn't get to flashy as the wispy vocals begin. The drums roll underneath for the bulk of this track. It doesn't have the shimmer as the the two prior tracks, but ends on a strong verse with Fitzgerald pushing the vocals harder and the guitar gets the trademark chime. "He Holds Her, He Needs Her" begins with a bass line under some playful guitar and the track keeps a strong rhythm and for the first time the band almost stops mid song, only to repeat the first verse formula. The vocals are held back until about the 1:20 mark before Fitzgerald "goes for it" hitting higher range than he has done to this point. Swales gives the guitar a good work out once more flashing some guitar god riffs. On the track "Polaroids" the drums get worked on about 3 minutes in before the guitar solo joins in for a massive collection of sound. It mellows out about 4:15 and quietly goes away, a stark contrast from what occurred earlier. The bass is buried a little too much on the intro of "Gorgeous Love" but the pop feel of the track quickly outweighs the mix. After the track gets rolling you don't really strain to hear the bass and realize that the place in the mix it finds itself is perfect. Per the norm the flashes of guitar are evident. The track "Aspray" follows and out of the gate it feels a little different than what we have heard so far. The track sort of plods along from the start. It is not a major departure but the elements of a great KOD song seem to be tossed off to the side. It is not a bad track, but there are better tracks. The track that got me to buy the record in the first place "Drive That Fast" follows. That bass intro still gets me. Its hardly flashy but the few bars before the guitars join in are "skip back moments" both on my player and in years. Fitzgerald starts off rather subdued before the he begins to push himself more. As the chorus comes the band begin to hit a little harder and even stronger vocally. This track gets to me. When the solo just washes over everything...ahhh its Xanadu I tell you. The band hardly slows down as "Within the Daze of Passion" begins. The bass line is strong, yet almost too basic as the guitar and drums feed off the deep groove. At this point it is evident that Swales over dubs the guitars some, but its well worth it. It not fast, its not flashy, but man he works the guitar so well. The album closes with "Under the Sky, Inside the Sea". The track has a slow start with single guitar chords washing over the bass parts, which in and of them self are short choppy notes. This repeats to about the one minute mark before a solo trumpet rings over the band. It then appears moments later, only this time muted and the band repeats the first wave once more.

Where are they now? - The band broke up in 1996. Since that time Patrick has worked under the moniker of Stephen Hero and released a few records. According to a few searches on Swales and Goodwin, the only thing I was able to really find was that Swales moved on to writing scores for film and theater. Feel free to add in the comments any links or updates and I will post them.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I never saw Kitchens of Distinction live.

FDF Overall Take - This album was produced by a guy that had worked with Simple Minds and Echo and the Bunnymen. If you like bands like Interpol and the Verve you should check K.O.D as they are strongly influenced by this band. If you can track this record down its got a few gems and well worth your time. If you are a guitar fan check this record out as well. This one was sort of a breath of fresh air honestly..its been way too long.


Patrick Fitzgerald as Stephen Hero as well as a K.O.D/Hero myspace.

A great fan site is here.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

The mp3s have been removed Nov 20, 2008

Quick as Rainbows
Drive that Fast

All the tracks taken from "Strange Free World" which you can buy here

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


At 9:20 AM, Anonymous BBS said...

Talk about coincidence, Drive that fast was one my iPod when I clicked over.
I may have seen this band in support of this record but I don't rememeber...

At 10:26 AM, Blogger Artephius said...

Drive That Fast - great song @ the time - sounded a bit dated when I listened again last month.

At 10:30 AM, Blogger March to the Sea said...

BBS - one of the tours they did support on was Suzanne Vega..and I am sure I didn't go to that...but you may have..ha.

artephius - could it be that bands like interpol have filled that void making it feel/sound dated? Anyway..thanks for reading and commenting.


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