Badly Drawn Boy

Time for another showcase of an artist I've listed to tonnes, according to last.fm. Today it is Badly Drawn Boy – last.fm states that I've listened to him 477 times since 8th February 2005. But what can I tell you bout this English singer/songwriter? I can tell you this…

Badly Drawn Boy is the alter-ego of Damon Gough, a 36 year old singer/songwriter from Manchester. Essentially his music is indie rock, and somewhere along the line I became to really like it. I'm a fussy bastard when it comes to any form of rock music, but there are certain artists and bands I like – but Badly Drawn Boy… I like a lot.

Some time in the mid-to-late '90s BDB happened to meet Andy Votel at a bar in Manchester, Votel was DJing, one thing led to another and now they are married and have two kids. Actually they didn't and they don't, but they did start the label Twisted Nerve and quickly released two EPs, imaginatively named; EP1 and EP2. These EPs went on to become a sort of underground legend and only 500 copies were pressed. Apparently if they are seen on eBay, they go for quite a bit of money.

To date BDB has released four full albums, these are;

  • The Hour of Bewilderbeast (2000)
  • About a Boy (2002)
  • Have You Fed the Fish? (2002)
  • One Plus One Is One (2004)

The first time I heard a BDB track was when I was given the compilation CD to the 2000 Mercury Prize competition. BDB had been nominated, and actually won, for his album The Hour of Bewilderbeast. The track on the compilation CD was The Shining. I think it was the cello samples and brass that really grabbed me – it's a pretty long song with a big old intro, but it instantly grabbed my attention. Then the vocals came in. Damon's voice is both smooth and husky at the same time. It's not the best voice, technically, that you're ever gonna hear, but it has such character – not to mention that his lyrics are pretty good too. Anyway, hear the track for yourself…

Badly Drawn Boy – The Shining
>> download <<
This download is a sample of the music only and must be deleted from your computer within 24 hours of downloading. This download link will expire on 27th June.

I think all of BDB's albums are fantastic in their own little way, but for one reason or another, I still to this day rank The Hour of Bewilderbeast as my favourite. 2002's About a Boy was actually the soundtrack to the film that starred Hugh Grant. Only every single track was by BDB, so in turn he just released it as his own album. If The Hour of Bewilderbeast was perhaps a more cinematic album, then About a Boy was on a slightly more poppy, or upbeat, tip. The highlights from About a Boy, for me, are; Something to Talk About, Silent Sigh, and Above You, Below Me.

Have You Fed the Fish? saw BDB return to a more rocky path. Tracks like Born Again showed he still wanted to belt out a rock track – although this album did contain its fair share of upbeat pop-rock tracks like; All Possibilities, You Were Right, How, and Tickets To What You Need. His style sits finely on the border line of alternative indie rock and pop. It's almost too pop for rock and too rock for pop. Hence he also tends to be one of these artists you either love or… well not hate, but if you don't love him, you probably just feel quite indifferent.

BDB's latest album was 2004's One Plus One Is One. Of all of his albums, this one was the one I found most difficult to get into. But it turned out to be a bit of a grower, and now tracks like Another Devil Dies and Year Of The Rat are easily two of my favourite BDB tracks. If anything, this album is most similar to his debut; The Hour of Bewilderbeast – very alternative and experimental, from a rock point of view anyway. It's quite folky in some sense, and I'd imagine that the majority of people that like this album were already big BDB fans. Here's a taster of Another Devil Dies…

Badly Drawn Boy – Another Devil Dies
>> download <<
This download is a sample of the music only and must be deleted from your computer within 24 hours of downloading. This download link will expire on 27th June.

I'd say that BDB's sound is pretty unique, not in some revolutionary sense, but more just in his style. The methods and manners he incorporates into his music. He loves using a broad range of instruments, and does so to such an extent that in different tracks you can experience totally different sounds and styles. I guess the constant in his music would be his vocals. But basically if you like alternative rock in more of a mild manner, that features many instruments, then by all means give BDB a go. Try to be patient, I mean you might instantly love him, but I would say to really appreciate his music takes a bit more time and dedication. So, if you have an ounce or two of patience, give all four albums a listen. Oh and Damon, if you're reading (yeah, very likely!), where's the fifth album? I've waited long enough!!!

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  • John

    Great stuff! BDB has always been a firm favourite of mine, he has one of those awquard vocal styles but it really works

  • John

    Great stuff! BDB has always been a firm favourite of mine, he has one of those awquard vocal styles but it really works

  • http://www.fractos.com/ Fractos

    Actually, Andy Votel has reproduced, he has a daughter “Scarlett”. Andy was my best mate at primary school (where we roved the local forests and did the whole ninja thing) and is a regular face around me manor. BDB held his niece’s birthday party at my brother’s cafe! It’s all so incestuous.

    Definitely going to try and check out BDB, I just don’t know any of his tracks! Wrong of me, I know.

    Cheers,

    aFx

  • http://www.fractos.com Fractos

    Actually, Andy Votel has reproduced, he has a daughter “Scarlett”. Andy was my best mate at primary school (where we roved the local forests and did the whole ninja thing) and is a regular face around me manor. BDB held his niece’s birthday party at my brother’s cafe! It’s all so incestuous.

    Definitely going to try and check out BDB, I just don’t know any of his tracks! Wrong of me, I know.

    Cheers,

    aFx

  • http://jeej.wordpress.com/ jeej

    Yeah… but not with Damon! :-P

    Anyway, incestuous indeed! You can start by downloading the two tracks from this blog entry. But I would start by getting The Hour of Bewilderbeast, as far as albums go.

  • http://jeej.wordpress.com/ jeej

    Yeah… but not with Damon! :-P

    Anyway, incestuous indeed! You can start by downloading the two tracks from this blog entry. But I would start by getting The Hour of Bewilderbeast, as far as albums go.