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  • Stephenhero "57 Stars of the Air Almanac"
    Wednesday, January 30, 2008


    Wow, talk about coming out of nowhere! Stephenhero is the ongoing project of Patrick Fitzgerald, the former lead singer of the wonderful and well-missed Kitchens of Distinction. But it's been several years since his last record, so I wondered if he even still made music. Glad to know that he is.

    If you have never experienced the utter brilliance of their 1991 album, The Death of Cool, you need to stop reading and discover this unfairly obscure masterpiece. It's one of the best records I've ever heard, period. After the band split, Fitzgerald formed different projects, Stephen Hero being the most notable. The music he released was quieter, mellower, and often instrumental--none of which ever reached the heights of The Death of Cool.

    Until now.

    57 Stars of the Air Almanac, now credited to Stephenhero, is a paraphrased return to The Death of Cool's majestic heights. I say he's "paraphrased" because these songs cover the same kind of lyrical themes, and are as emotionally powerful and painful as Death of Cool except...the powerful wall of guitar has been replaced...by piano! We're talking about a guy who wrote beautifully melancholy lyrics on a par with Morrissey, tempered with the noise of My Bloody Valentine.

    When I read a few descriptions of this new record, I never would have expected such, would never have expected much, and, honestly, before I heard it, I was skeptical that he could really replicate his storied past without his powerful guitars. But Patrick can, Patrick has, and my mind has been...well...blown. Now, mind you, 57 Stars of the Air Almanac isn't trying to be Kitchens of Distinction mach 2, and I'm glad, because otherwise, it all would sound a bit too forced. Patrick was and is an excellent songwriter, and that's what is on display here. Whether it's a love song, or a not-in-love song, Patrick can write a song that aims for the jugular.

    I've rambled around a point, a very simple point, and that is this: Patrick Fitzgerald is one of the finest songwriters of our time, bar none. That he's released a potent and beautiful record in painful obscurity isn't his fault, nor should it be a reflection of the quality of his art. I've loved the man's music for nearly two decades. 57 Stars of the Air Almanac reminds me why I fell in love with his music in the first place: powerful words and beautiful music. And, well, "58 Stars" brings a tear to my eye every time. That's all that matters to me…

    Listen To: "58th Star"

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    posted by joseph kyle @ 12:11 PM  
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