Oskar’s Drum: A Cathedral Of Hands

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Another CD that’s hard to review; on one hand, it’s excellent, on the other it’s hard to know why we should tell anyone to buy it. Is consistently interesting a good enough reason?

Oskar’s Drum is Patrik Fitzgerald and Yves Altana. Older readers may have come across Fitzgerald’s work, as he claims to be an originator of folk punk and his best-known song (according to Wikipedia**) is Safety-Pin Stuck In My Heart — despite our many hours perusing A&A’s indie singles bin in the early 80s we remember neither the song nor the sleeve. Frank Turner fans would recognise the sound, though.

Altana is guitarist with Manchester bands Wonky Alice, The Chrysalids and (with Mark Burgess) Invincible. He currently plays drums live for Chameleons Vox.

The songs on this album are the works of men who know their craft and they all sound instantly familiar. They’re not really like any other band we can think of, skirting round many a sound from the indie/punk days, a bit Magazine and a bit Siouxsie, though slicker than either. They reference Bowie and there are odd psychedelic moments. It has the darkness of the Banshees, but a strong sense of melody too, a combination of darkness, wistfulness and optimism, though there is some anger.

If you like any of the bands mentioned, or interesting music in general, give it a go. Try The Last Time I Saw Roger, which starts off slowly, references Lord Of The Flies, builds up nicely and has a cool guitar solo. Opener Green Veiled Mirror Ghost is good, too.

Out now on Ragoora Records, RAG010.

** THIS IS WRONG. Oskar’s Drum have a vocal fanbase and I looked at the wrong Mr Fitzgerald on Wikipedia, a fact I realised when they turned up wielding pitchforks and blazing torches. Doh! Sorry.
I’m not changing it otherwise the comments make no  sense. The point remains I’d never heard of them before this album, though.
I am told Kitchens of Distinction are excellent and have a boxset out.

Drum away:

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  1. Mr. No one

    Wow, this is a poor review.
    Have you ever heard of Kitchens of Distinction? In the future if you think Wikipedia is a good source of viable, professional information then you shouldn’t write anymore.

    1. jerobear

      Dude, what d you want me to do? Pretend I’ve heard of them and fake a review? I really don’t remember them from my youth, and I bought a lot of vinyl. I played the tune and YouTube and don’t remember it.
      The reference to Wikipedia is deliberate, to remove any pretence that I know more than the reader when I don’t.
      It’s a quality, well-made album but would I recommend people spend their money on it rather than something else? No.
      Other albums I might do that, but you can’t say every album is brilliant otherwise it devalues your good reviews.
      This isn’t Amazon and its fake reviews.
      But thanks for reading it and taking the trouble to review my review.
      I might buy some Kitchens of Distinction. Getting CDs free to review costs me a fortune, so I try not to buy more than a couple of albums a week.

  2. Binary

    You may want to look up the right wiki page next time though 😉

  3. Gary

    There was/is a punk poet called Patrik Fitzgerald which where you went slightly wrong.

    The Kitchens are wonderful, a huge influence on bands that followed, you can hear Julian’s guitars in many a 90’s indie band.

    You definitely need to give them a listen here you go


    1. jerobear

      Ah, I see. Bloody Wikipedia. I’d still not heard of them before, though.
      In my defence, when I wrote the review there were no other reviews on the internet at all, so it makes it hard when you’ve got nothing to cross reference to/with. The Press notes were brief.
      I’ll try the Kitchens.

    2. jerobear

      Are you sure you’re not the band? £32! I’ve bought The Death of Cool. I like the title. This getting free CDs to review costs me a bloody fortune.

  4. Nathan

    “..on one hand, it’s excellent, on the other it’s hard to know why we should tell anyone to buy it”
    Hahaha! It’s so excellent that …you’re telling us not to buy it?

    1. jerobear

      Yeah, sure. I’m not telling you NOT to buy it, I’m telling you that I can’t think why you should buy it ahead of all the other excellent albums that are about.
      My favourite two albums of last year were Saint Leonards Horses (No2) and Rob Ritchings (No1) . Much as I love Rob, I can see it’s a love you might not share so I might not advise you to buy it. I’d at least caution you. Saint Leonards Horses on the other hand is a good album by anyone’s measure and I would recommend you buy it, because it will make your life better.
      Oskar’s Drum – a band that surely has the most dedicated fans on the planet – is good, but it’s not necessarily going to improve your life. You might like it, you might not. It’s up to you. It’s a well crafted album by musicians who know their trade but it’s not going to make you sit up and go “Hell yeah!” (As Menace Beach did to me today, though it tails off a bit).
      There are too many reviews that just say whatever they’re reviewing is an utter work of genius. An alien reading Amazon might assume the world was full of earth-shatteringly good five-star music. It’s not. (Though even my luekewarm reviews CDs sell albums – my mate runs a record shop and people go in and ask).
      I’ve bought a Kitchens of Distinction album. It’d better be good or I’ll be complaining to you.

  5. Nick Bryan

    What a “wanting” review. Patrick Fitzgerald (yes, there are two out there !) arguably fronted the most innovative “shoegazing” (a term laughed at in its early 90`s heyday) band Kitchens of Distinction. They were outspoken, they were also out of this world. Patrick has had a variety of critically acclaimed projects since such as Fruit, Stephen Hero, Lost Girls, The April Seven (who`s 2016 cd “the Pop Tarkovsky” was one of the years best) and of course Oskars Drum, These collaborations bands inc notables such as David McAlmont, Paul Frederick (from The Family Cat), Heidi Berry, Tanya Donelly (from Belly etc), Fern Smith, Dave Morgan (The Loft) etc. Patrick is also a doctor in his day job. The K O D also released a great album back in 2013 called “Folly”.

    1. jerobear

      If I’d known Oskars Drum had fans that made Directioners and Beliebers look like part time amateurs, I’d have given it a full page.
      Who’d have thought, two Patrick Fitzgeralds, both performers from years ago I’d never heard of. Not me, obviously.
      It’s a fair review from an unbiased listener. I might have written it better but I’m always working to deadlines and however beautifully I wrote it, my conclusion would be the same.
      You (as a group) forced me to buy a KoD album and it’s very good. Oskars Drum is very good. Would I recommend it to anyone ahead of the many equally good new albums? No. Mind, I was never a fan of Echo & the Bunnymen back in the day either.

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