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Albums: Still Valid
It took us three years to record our previous album, so we decided to make THIS album at lot simpler. Ten songs, thirty minutes, minimal overdubs, all HITS.
It took four years... but we think it was worth it!
This item is available to buy direct from us for £10.00, with postage and packing free anywhere in the world, or to download from our bandcamp page.
It's also available from Amazon and on download sites like iTunes.
Made by MJ Hibbett, Frankie Machine, Tom 'Tiger' McClure, Emma Pattison and Tim Pattison with Richard Collins and Robin Newman at Snug Recording Company, Derby. All songs published by Wipeout Music.
20 Things To Do Before You're 30
Can We Be Friends?
In The North Stand
Burn It Down And Start Again
(You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
Hills And Hollows
The 1980s How It Was
I Want To Find Out How It Ends
We Did It Anyway
Joel Dear and Paula Dear, The Album Wall
An Intergenerational Review
Reviewer #1: Joel DearStu McHugh, Is This Music/Peterborough Telegraph
Blogger, copywriter and musician, born in 1991
I'm nearly halfway through my twenties now, and the prospect of getting older still is a pretty terrifying one. I've been doing the same job for four years and I increasingly feel like I've missed my chance to be a rock star or a successful music journalist or, y'know, something actually fulfilling.
With this in mind, I found Still Valid to be a very comforting listen. In particular, opening track 20 Things to Do Before You're 30 served as a much-needed reminder that one needn't take one's twenties too seriously - as the song itself points out, most people look back at their twenty-something selves later in life and think "what a twat!"
I like this album a lot. The songwriting is right up my street - that is, there are lots of words sung quickly over not many chords - and just about every track has a great chorus that's super-fun to sing along with. The violin is a nice touch too, gliding elegantly through each track and lending MJ Hibbett's simple, punky compositions an air of maturity and refinement.
The best part about this record, though, is the way it makes my aforementioned growing-up anxieties fade away each time I play it through. Rousing closer We Did It Anyway acknowledges that The Validators will probably never win an award, get on the news, et cetera...but then it gives a defiant shrug and assures us that they'll keep making music anyway, "just because it's good". And afterwards, I don't care that I might never be wealthy and well-known as long as I can keep singing songs and writing my blog for as long as I want.
Reviewer #2: Paula Dear
Aromatherapist, wife and mum, born in 1962
Well, what an honour – being asked to write as a guest middle-aged person on Joel's blog! At least he didn't say I was old.
Still Valid is fantastic, and you really don't have to be middle-aged to appreciate the wit and the music, which is slightly reminiscent of Mitch Benn, Dexys Midnight Runners and The Housemartins all rolled into one while also being truly original, with memorable fiddle-playing and beautifully blended voices.
The exuberance of 20 Things to Do Before You're 30 made me laugh out loud as I will never be like some of my friends who have run marathons and climbed Kilimanjaro, yet I too can "experiment with chilli sauce" and hopefully not end up like the man in That Guy "standing in the rain" and "masturbating in a skip"!
The wry observations of The 1980s How It Was resonated so much (and indeed I concur that "history's rewritten by the people who did best from it"), whereas the poignant In The North Stand had me sobbing as I remembered my dad taking me to Watford's home ground Vicarage Road when I was young.
So yes, I loved it and at the risk of sounding old I could hear all the lyrics! I will certainly go back and listen again and again, especially to Burn It Down and Start Again with its brilliant pauses, its glottal stops (it's like I'm back in Watford again!) and its wonderful poetry – the phrase 'gene puddle' particularly appealed.
Thank you MJ and The Validators for making me feel, well, validated and to end with a line from one of their early songs (yes, I was motivated enough to check them out on YouTube) which is currently very appropriate: 'peace and love is still a bloody good idea' (The Lesson of the Smiths).
And a big thank you to my son for still valuing my opinion and for introducing me to some good music!
Thanks to my mum for her contribution to today's blog. As mentioned above, she is a professional aromatherapist, so if you live near Cardiff and need some help relaxing then be sure to book a treatment. Visit her Facebook page or her website, www.pauladear.co.uk, for more details.
The march of time is clearly felt by Hibbett and chums, so hopefully they’ll not regret the four years spent on this release. Happily, the result is 11 tracks that sound vibrant and urgent. The BBC 6music perennials offer a whimsical take on nostalgia and growing old, with a fiddle-driven backing picking out the frontman’s singalong lyrics. ‘20 Things To Do Before You’re 30’ sums up Hibbett’s fear of “eating shortbread and collecting Allen keys” alongside a dissatisfaction with the “gene puddle” of modern politics. Billy Bragg is a handy reference as are Half Man Half Biscuit with observations on X-Men, Chaucer and curry. So, well worth the wait – but without wanting to sound portentous, better crack on with the next one, eh?
Ged M, Sounds XP
Indiepop. It’s not a career, it’s a community. There’s fun if not fame, gigs if not glory, cult status if not stardom. And that’s the theme of ‘We Did It Anyway’, the closing track on Mark Hibbett’s sixth studio album (tenth album in total) with his Validators. To borrow the title of that cheap 60s EMI Records’ imprint, this is simply “music for pleasure”.20 Things To Do Before You're 30 Premiere, For The Rabbits
Mark’s a bit of a renaissance man (not quite a Leonardo): songwriter, playwright and aspiring Poet Laureate of Peterborough, who writes and records in a pure DIY way. His reputation, which has been building over the 17 years since his first release, has grown to the point where he now has his own tribute festival, Hibbettfest. In fact, he’s a bit of a cult.
His popularity among those that know him is well earned. He gives good value if you like words but he has a way with melody too. He tells prosaic tales from middle England but he makes the everyday extraordinary. Check how he takes down those Channel 4 clipshows and demystifies the 1980s in ‘The 1980s How It Was’, reminding you that, for all the alternative comedy and New Romantics, we were only 3 minutes from nuclear midnight on the Doomsday Clock.
His targets are picked off clinically but comically. He rails against the stereotypical sexist male monster in ‘That Guy’, who pontificates over culture (“comparing One Direction to Chaucer”), is cautious over curry, and is left “masturbating in a skip”, while he punctures political posturing in ‘Burn It Down And Start Again’, in piss-taking but effective style. Satire’s hard but he makes it look easy, washing down every barbed line with a melodic musical shot.
His versatile Validators provide solid back up. ‘You Make Me Feel (Soft Rock)’ is an exuberant love song, incorporating the only use of “wazzock” in modern pop, which only makes it sound more authentic. ‘20 Things To Do Before You’re 30’ is catchy indiepop and ‘In The North Stand’ is an affecting description of lower division football as a distraction from parental separation, with sighing violin, trumpet blasts and some sweet melodic touches. The same violin soars on the epic ‘Hills And Hollows’, turning the band into an East Midlands Arcade Fire, and transforming hills into mountains in a celebration of everyday Englishness.
And that’s the job of Hibbett. He’s one of us, hymning the simple pleasures but doing so in ways that set you smiling. As long as he does that, he’s a positive force in pop - a national treasure with a regional accent.
Where did you think you’d be when you were thirty? What did you think you’d have achieved? Questions that for many of our readers will prompt the response, “oi come on mate I’m not that old yet.” But for those of you who have reached the much feared landmark, you’re probably like us pondering just what you have achieved, and far more just how many things you haven’t got round to yet. You might not have got married, travelled the world or got any idea what you want to do when you grow up yet, but don’t be too hard on yourself, you won the Champions league with Wolves on Football Manager, you’ve tried far more craft beers than you ever knew existed and you’ve probably done lots of reckless, daft and sometimes dangerous things.
Today we’re delighted to be premiering 20 Things To Do Before You’re 30, the new single by MJ Hibbett & The Validators. In it, MJ Hibbett and his cohorts set out to dispel many of the ideas and pressures that setting yourself time specific life goals create. Ultimately the track is about being prepared to enjoy yourself no matter what age you are.
The track showcases the bands classic blend of poignancy and humour. Musically it is a delightfully raucous blast of crashing drums, driving bass and sweet violin detailing, making gentle nods in the direction of Ballboy or Jeff Lewis, with its combination of lo-fi punk aesthetics and pop hooks. Lyrically it implores the youth of today to lower their expectations and live a life of house parties, daytime drinking and giving yourself plenty of excellently daft thing to regret when later life rolls around and brings with it a life of, “eating shortbread and collecting allen keys.”
20 Things To Do Before You’re 30 is lifted from the sixth MJ Hibbett & The Validators record Still Valid, which the band self released last week, continuing their fiercely DIY aesthetic of doing absolutely everything themselves. MJ describes the record as, “a greatest hits of what we’ve been up to for the past four years.” The album takes in various musings on life and in particularly the ageing process, via a series of seemingly specific stories. Hills And Hollows was a failed attempt to become Poet Laureate Of Peterborough, Can We Be Friends? muses on the difficulty of making friends when you’re too old for gangs and new bands, and In The North Stand is quite possibly the most heartwarming song about watching Peterborough United play football that’s ever been written. Still Valid is a sparkling return from the much loved midlands hit-makers, and one that confirms there’s plenty of life left in us all, even when our twenties are well into our past.
Warren Pilkington, Zaw Towers
Seven years on since its release, "Regardez, Ecoutez et Repetez" is still a quality album, and a lot's happened since then - various Edinburgh Festival shows by MJ Hibbett (and Steve) including shows about dinasours invading Peterborough, growing up with computers in the 1980s and imaginary super heroes, complete with all new songs written for each (and indeed, the band having a whole CD worth of Dinasour Planet soundtrack to boot.) So it's been a fair while for the new album "Still Valid" to be recorded to say the least, so interesting to see if that time has been well spent.
For me, the band are perhaps at their best with catchy indie pop goodness, lots of melodies and some intelligent yet witty word play along the way - a lot of my favourite songs are just that (such as "Hey Hey 16K", "Do The Indie Kid" and "It Only Works Because You're Here".) It's worth perhaps noting that this album is also making those songs as a whole shorter and sparkier, with one song only going over four minutes and almost all the rest around three minutes or less. In a way that does work well, and aids the flow somewhat. In fact despite the sleeve mentioning that there's only ten songs, there is in fact eleven, and I'll come to that a little later on.
So opening the fold out sleeve and the collage picture postcard effect of the band in various times having their pictures taken, it's on with the CD. We start with "20 Things To Do Before You're 30" which in effect has a little pop at all those articles you see about all the things that you need to do in your life, and what the reality actually is (especially later on, when you'll end up according to the later verses collecting allen keys and eating shortbread.) Tom McClure's violin is fairly high up in the mix which compliments the vocals of Emma Pattison and MJ Hibbett particularly well here, giving it a smidge of edge. "Can We Be Friends?" tells the tale of how when you are older that actually connecting with people and making new friends can sometimes be more difficult than you think, and how it'd be a lot easier if you were a teenager. It's really nice during the chorus to have Emma singing various levels of backing at once, and giving the chorus some oomph at the same time, whilst asking the song's title? Rather a nice idea that, and it works too.
"That Guy" has the best single line of the whole album which mentions masturbating in a skip (it makes sense, honest!) and how you don't want to be "that guy" who appears to be smug about comics or the whole saga of Indian food and being a sod about it. Rather amusingly the final line says "but I am.." and almost seems to indicate that we'll end up being "that guy" one day, comparing One Direction to Chaucer with some nice violin solos before each verse. "In The North Stand" is my favouite of the album, it resonates a lot. It's the tale of how MJ's grandad used to take him to the football at Peterborough and how those memories are still there when he goes now. My grandad used to take me to Maine Road to watch Manchester City as a kid (and in the North Stand too!), so I get it. And there's a rather glorious trumpet solo section from Frankie Machine in the middle, to make it sound even more Northern and have a LS Lowry painting in the background as you head for the North Stand.
"Burn It Down And Start Again" is perhaps the weakest song on the album in comparison. It means well and is a well levelled song aimed at politicians, then the press, and finally how we all end up writing protest songs because of the above. The false endings will catch people out at gigs, but unlike the brilliant "The Fight For History" which really had a message delivered with passion that became a true prophecy due to the words, this just falls short. Thankfully, we're back on track straight away with "(You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock" which is utterly joyous indie pop! It's a love song, but more about how you remain in love and how over time the person you're with makes you want to punch the air with happiness and "look like a wazzock, but I don't care" with suitable nods to MJ's former home of Leytonstone and sharing a half bottle of wine and eating Pringles without a care in the world. It's also punchy in the chorus due to the drums from Tim Pattison and really does give you that urge to punch the air along to the words.
"Hills and Hollows" reminds me of how some bands would occasionally do the lyrics as more spoken word poetry with the music forming the backing for it. The song refers to how if you come from a relatively flat place you want to head to somewhere flat, and eventually not have the hills and hollows of other places. "The 1980s How It Was" first appeared in the "Hey Hey 16K" musical, but works well here too, and tells of how the media and politicians want you to remember the 1980s in a different way to how it actually was if you lived through it, with the likes of Duran Duran, the Rubik's Cube, shoulder pads, and the scariness of being bored and possibly dying in a nuclear war (a la the film "Threads"). It's quite an insight into how it really was, and not how those who claim nostalgia on the likes of Twitter and Buzzfeed also want you to think it was. MJ and Emma vocally compliment each other rather well here too.
"I Want To Find Out How It Ends" was a single a while back and originally written for a podcast about time travel, and the challenge was to write something without said podcast title anywhere. It focuses on time travel with the fact that if you could travel, you'd want to know how it all ends first so you would be able to at least have an idea of how you'd get there and skip to all the best bits along the way. It's immensely catchy and some gorgeous guitar riffs that underpin the intro to each verse as well, and good fun! "We Did It Anyway" was originally for the finale of MJ's "Moon Horse" musical comedy, and is a happy sunny song to end the ten main tracks - and details of how the likes of winning awards, earning shed loads of cash etc doesn't really matter, it's enjoying yourself and enjoying life when you do what you love doing, and that's rather uplifting. There's a key line of "I don't need to have a lot of medals and cash when I've got friends like you" sung with gusto and real passion, and those words ring so true. After all, being happy doesn't make you stupid, does it?
So there's an eleventh track then, and it's "Get Over It", which featured in the "Total Hero Team" musical, and is how you need to get over things that you may not have liked, and actually find that getting over that shows you have lots more things to like and do, with suitable nods to Euro 96 and actually how that got him over the snobbery towards football, and other experiences with the likes of curry, The Smiths and a dishwasher. It's witty, quick and pretty funny, so nice to have a full band version here.
Overall it's a joyous piece of indie pop, and the short sharp punchy approach to most of the tracks works pretty well, giving enough space and flow to Frankie Machine's guitars and Tim Pattison's drums too along the way giving suitable backing the violins and vocals. If I was being picky I'd have kept it at ten tracks and dropped "Burn It Down And Start Again", however one man's poison may well be someone else's meat. What is apparent though is that the wit of the lyrics is there in abundance, and keeping the bursts shorter really gives an immediacy to listen to, and then allowing the songs to grow on you over time. It may never win an award, but they'll do what that do anyway. For that alone we should be thankful and, if you've never heard an album by the band before, this would be a good place to start to get you hooked.
Warren's rating: 90%
Martin Raybould, Whisperin And Hollerin
This is the sixth studio album by a band led by a man who once aspired to become Peterborough's very own poet laureate (he came second in a competition that would have won him this accolade).
It is described as a 'greatest hits' collection covering songs from the past 4 years, eleven random but still valid pieces written for the various high and lowbrow projects Mark John Hibbett has been involved in.
He is a graduate of Leicester's De Montfort University and his varied CV includes writing and performing credits in six musicals at various fringe festivals. This goes some way to explaining why each song on this collection is either a story in itself or could be part of a bigger one.
Musically speaking, Tom McClure's fine fiddle playing gives a nice twist to what is otherwise fairly straight Indie rock.
Hibbett writes topical, 'British to the core' songs full of bitter sweet observations about his life as a grown up and some other stuff about when he were just a lad.
The latter is most fully documented in The 1980s How It Was in which he recollects just how bleak and unglamorous that decade was.
The black and white photos by Chris Porsz (from the book New England) in the video for this song provide visual evidence to support this view.
Hibbett is aware that glossy magazine articles and slick TV documentaries exist to suggest that things weren't so bad and puts these down to the fact that "history's rewritten from the people who did best from it".
Other song topics include a celebration of lower division soccer clubs (In The North Stand), a treatise on the rottenness at the heart of the political establishment (Burn It Down And Start Again) and a confirmation that making music for the sheer fun of it brings its own rewards (We Did It Anyway).
Another noteworthy tune is 20 Things To Do Before You're 30 which presents an alternative bucket list with suggestions of ways to act like a twat before you are old enough to know better.
To offer a further possible Leicester connection, Hibbett's Validators are un-pop in much the same as way as the grossly underrated Yeah Yeah Noh were. Meanwhile, the outpouring of un-soppy tenderness in the love song (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock is on a par with the best of The Wedding Present's David Gedge.
Hibbett is an intelligent observer of life's ironies but also recognises that there's a fine line between being smart and smug. In That Guy he addresses his fear of turning into the kind of guy who appears on Radio 4 "comparing One Direction to Chaucer".
Needless to say, there's a strong novelty factor to this kind of material which won't appeal to everyone and is likely to totally bamboozle American listeners.
Thankfully, however, this is much more than just a series of one joke songs so they do bear repeating.
MJ Hibbett on twitter
The Validators on twitter
An Artists Against Success Presentation
Maintained by MJ Hibbett & The Validators