1. Meet My Killer
2. Catch That Stranger
3. Saturday Matinee
4. Yorvik (My Hood)
5. Love Is
6. As Theodos Spoke
8. The Answer Is Yes
9. Pound Coins & Kitchen Roll
The Wildhearts are currently riding a wave of fun. A critically acclaimed new album under their (leather) belts, a continuing slew of live dates to keep them in shape until the end of the year, and an upcoming EP with 5 newly recorded songs to be released to a salivating fan base in October. So what does main man Ginger do? He only goes and drops a new solo album with no warning whatsoever!
If you put to one side all the side projects, live albums and compilations he has released over the past 15 years, I believe this is the 10th official solo album from the UK’s most prolific songwriter, the third in two years! That’s not too shabby is it? Yet still he remains relatively unknown in the music world.
So what do we know about ‘Headzapoppin’? Well, not a lot really. Recorded earlier this year, it’s produced by long time collaborator Dave Draper and as far as I know Ginger plays all the instruments. What I can tell you for sure is that this album is 10 tracks of Power Pop induced goodness that will instantly satisfy the musical fix every Ginger fan expects and desires.
The triple album ‘555%’ is a good reference point. If you dig the eclectic nature of that opus and all it entailed, then you will not go too far wrong with ‘Headzapoppin’. A completely different beast to ‘Renaissance Men’, this is the stuff that doesn’t fit The Wildhearts shaped hole, yet comes from the headspace of the same man. Lyrically, it’s more of an introspective look on his life right now, rather than the diatribe towards a system that has let him down and the black dog that threatens to take him down for good. But Ginger, like many tortured artists, will always have various headfucks to contend with, but that unfortunately, is what sparks the fire of great creativity.
As I stare at the striking album artwork on my laptop, it seems to quite scarily mirror the feel of the opening song and the lyrics it contains. ‘Meet My Killer’ skulks along, riding on a mid-paced riff, not too far removed from ‘Rooting For The Bad Guy’, like a beast, waiting in the shadows ready to pounce as Ginger sings the refrain “Sobriety is killing me/it’s fucking me up/reality, you’ll be my killer”. Dark, dramatic and to the point, it’s a daring opener.
But it’s not all doom and gloom folks, this is a happy-go-lucky album, honest! ‘Catch That Stranger’ is one of those classic Ginger tunes that goes off on a tangent to itself. The listener is lulled into a false sense of security with lazy, hazy Power Pop melodies, before Zappa-esque guitar scales intersperse with intense, urgent sections of repetitive Hardcore beats, what’s not to like here?
‘Saturday Matinee’ is a simple Pop-tinged tune about banishing the loneliness and sharing good times with someone. Elsewhere the likes of ‘Boxes’ and ‘The Answer Is Yes’ deliver overly catchy refrains that threaten to get stuck in your head after just the first run through.
There are a few tunes here that are very personal to me already. ‘Yorvik (My Hood)’ is a love letter to his adoptive home town of York. I myself have lived in York for over 20 years and can totally relate to his thoughts and feelings towards the city we both call home. Upbeat and quirky, the fact that he name-checks the likes of Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate and Lady Pecketts Yard make it a song relatable to anyone who has spent some time in York, a place where “every street’s a gate, and every gate’s a bar, and every bar is a pub and every door’s ajar”
Again, ‘Pound Coins And Kitchen Roll’ is an upbeat little dittie with a positive outlook. I know it was most probably written just the other side of the river from where I type these words and take in the almost futile situation our hero finds himself in. With a little musical interlude that brings to mind The Fall Guy theme tune ‘Unknown Stuntman’, our very own Colt Seavers is keeping the dream alive, he’s taking it day by day, he’s doing ok and everything’s going to be alright.
Keeping the best until last, the closing ‘Zap’ proves the medication is truly kicking in. With an intro that nods its head to ‘Friday On My Mind’, its catchier than anything on the new Redd Kross album, as instant as Angel Delight and twice as sweet! “Zap, holy crap” he sings. Simple and to the point, it’s a final blast of euphoria, designed to leave a lasting effect. Get used to it, you’ll be singing it for days.
I have followed Ginger Wildheart’s career with fascination for over 25 years. A songwriter who has always surprised, never looked back and always delivered when I least expected it, but when I needed it the most. I have always found his lyrics relatable and his music top notch and ‘Headzapoppin’ is no different.
The only dilemma I have now is where this fits in to the albums of the year list! Only time will tell, but for now hit the link, buy the record and support our local artists. The struggle is real and only you can help keep the dream alive.
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Review - Ben Hughes