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REVIEWS : Reviews of Kitchens of Distinction albums and other projects
Formed in early 1985 by jobbing musicians Patrick Fitzgerald, Julian Swales and Dan Goodwin, Kitchens Of Distinction worked at their career the hard way: years on the toilet circuit, a slew of independent releases and their one lucky break when One Little Indian heard a demo and signed them. Their debut album, 1989ís ĎLove Is Hellí received a better NME review than The Stone Roses debut, reviewed in the same issue, but somehow fame and fortune escaped them. Blame it on Fitzgeraldís openness about his sexuality (Elton John hadnít been the best ambassador for gay men), their intense lyricism (we already had The Smiths) or their leanings toward the blue-sky rock of R.E.M. (who needs two versions of R.E.M.?), but you certainly canít blame their material. Compiled here for the first time are career highlights (for once, a selection truly deserving of the title), demos, live tracks and alternate takes. Itís a sharp reminder that it wasnít all that long ago that truly exceptional bands like KoD could be left on the shelf. What would you give for such an embarrassment of riches today?
Love is Hell: "Music of Quality and Distinction", Hot Press, July 1989
Dice rating: 10/12 - "Excellent"
Feel My Genie:"SCORCHIO!"
Melody Maker & New Music Express
Melody Maker, 'SINGLE OF THE WEEK' as reviewed by Richard Smith
SCORCHIO! If you have to have it spelt out to you, Kitchens OD are Kitchens Of Distinction
under a new moniker.
Kitchens of Distinction play 'Cowboys and Aliens' from Pause and Play
(Jan. 26, 1995)
Even before their new album, "Cowboys and Aliens," was released in
their native Britain last year, Kitchens of Distinction lead singer Patrick
Fitzgerald predicted how the British press would react to it.
" 'Oh, they're back again! Oh, s---, this is a really good album. It
would be so much easier just to dismiss them. A shame we can't,' " he said
with a laugh. "I think we're just this constant thorn, which makes me
happy. I'd much rather be a thorn than a flower."
Regardless, the Kitchens bloom on their third A&M effort, released Jan.
24 and featuring the lush single "Now It's Time to Say Goodbye" and
the likely follow-up "Sand On Fire." Fitzgerald said he and his
bandmates - guitarist Julian Swales and drummer Dan Goodwin - wanted to stretch
their sound this time around.
"After 'The Death of Cool' record (in '93), it had gotten to the point
where we were getting a little bored with what we were doing," he said.
"We thought, 'Well, why don't we do something a bit more stripped back and
a bit more aggressive, the way that we are live. Let's see if we can capture
that,' and that was the intent. We decided to produce ourselves to give it some
Fitzgerald hopes "Cowboys and Aliens" catches Kitchens of
Distinction fans off-guard.
"I still think it's very beautiful music and continues in the vein of
our previous work in that it tries to provide a world apart from the harsh
reality around us," he said. "Instead of things like Rollins and Green
Day bitching about what's going on around them, I think Kitchens provide the
alternative world the chance to plunk your head in for an hour and escape. We
continue to do that, but we just changed the landscape." Review from
Even before their new album, "Cowboys and Aliens," was released in their native Britain last year, Kitchens of Distinction lead singer Patrick Fitzgerald predicted how the British press would react to it.
" 'Oh, they're back again! Oh, s---, this is a really good album. It would be so much easier just to dismiss them. A shame we can't,' " he said with a laugh. "I think we're just this constant thorn, which makes me happy. I'd much rather be a thorn than a flower."
Regardless, the Kitchens bloom on their third A&M effort, released Jan. 24 and featuring the lush single "Now It's Time to Say Goodbye" and the likely follow-up "Sand On Fire." Fitzgerald said he and his bandmates - guitarist Julian Swales and drummer Dan Goodwin - wanted to stretch their sound this time around.
"After 'The Death of Cool' record (in '93), it had gotten to the point where we were getting a little bored with what we were doing," he said. "We thought, 'Well, why don't we do something a bit more stripped back and a bit more aggressive, the way that we are live. Let's see if we can capture that,' and that was the intent. We decided to produce ourselves to give it some roughness."
Fitzgerald hopes "Cowboys and Aliens" catches Kitchens of Distinction fans off-guard.
"I still think it's very beautiful music and continues in the vein of our previous work in that it tries to provide a world apart from the harsh reality around us," he said. "Instead of things like Rollins and Green Day bitching about what's going on around them, I think Kitchens provide the alternative world the chance to plunk your head in for an hour and escape. We continue to do that, but we just changed the landscape."
Review fromStrange Free World is the first great album out of the U.K. in 1991, and as wholly fulfilling an LP as we're likely to hear from her majesty's voice during this or any other year. In a time dominated by quick and easy singles, often based on nothing more than gimmicky slogans or well-worn ideas, the Kitchens have crafted a fully realized collection that, while crammed with potential singles, feels like an album. Their past singles and EPs (collected in the U.S. by Rough Trade on Love Is Hell) only hinted at the emotional expanse and depth found on Strange Free World-producer Hugh Jones (Echo & The Bunnymen, Ultra Vivid Scene) has taken the Kitchens' waves of glistening feedback and shaped their sound into a vast, layered throbbing pulse. It's almost too easy to liken the Kitchens to renowned Brit swirl-pop like the Smiths, Bunnymen, Chameleons or Cocteau Twins; while there's no denying the textural similarities, especially when it comes to the wash of guitars, the welcome lack of vocal flamboyance and the constant melodic bursts of brilliance help not only to distance the Kitchens from knee-jerk comparisons, but also to propel them into heights few bands ever approach. Begin with the dazzling initial single, "Drive That Fast," and then proceed to "Gorgeous," "Railwayed," "Quick As Rainbows" and "Polaroids."
© 1978-1998 College Media, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Coyboys and Aliens review from Fallout Magazine. Original copy located here.
Kitchens of Distinction Cowboys and Aliens (One Little Indian/A&M)
Kitchens of Distinction forged a large underground following after the releases of Strange Free World and The Death of Cool. The shimmering guitars and tales of love and loss endeared them to the hearts of many, and subsequent rumors of break-up seemed to spell the end of the band. After some time away from each other, the band regrouped for another stab at it. In some respects, they could have ended it there. Although Cowboys and Aliens contains some of the elements of the previous efforts, it falls short when compared directly to those earlier efforts.
The lead-off "Sand on Fire" begins with Julian Swales swirling guitar layers, but the tone is harsher. Patrick Fitzgerald's usual vocal style is there, but is augmented by female backing vocals. Although not a total wash, it is a slight change in sound that seems uncomfortable to them. The redeem themselves on "Get Over Yourself," with airier guitars and brighter feel. The guitar interplay that Swales honed in the past resurfaces, making this a classic Kitchens song. "Come On Now" builds with a melodic bass intro and stout drumming before adding guitar melody. The tune builds in places, and the mellow resolves make this tune quite effective.
Love is still the primary theme here. In addition to the previously mentioned songs, "Thought He Had Everything" is a classic Kitchens foray into the delicacies of love. On this venture, the music has a darker tone while re-visiting their sound, but, for some reason, comes up short. The title track steps up the tempo, but starts out with a thin sound that never quite shakes itself free of. "Remember Me?" is a weaker tune that is only salvaged by the short, swirling guitar leads. The single, "Now It's Time To Say Goodbye," falls short of the usual high Kitchens standard.
Although not a disaster, this record feels forced in places. The strong points are just that, but as a whole, it leaves the hardcore fan feeling a bit cheated. If you are willing to overlook some of the weaker numbers, you'll find the typical guitar swirl and tomes about love you've grown to love. If this was their only release, it might be easier to forgive the few shortcomings, but since we know what these lads can accomplish, Cowboys and Aliens seems incomplete.
Exclusive Review from CMJ NewMusic Report An eternity has passed since we last heard from these Brit popsters. Relief has arrived in the form of Cowboys And Aliens, which affirms Kitchens Of Distinctions' tenacity over a near decade-long career. Maturity suits the Kitchens well though, and they flaunt it in a number of conspicuous changes. Longtime producer Hugh Jones has departed, leaving knob-twiddling duties to the band's live soundman, who succeeds ably. The presence of background vocals immediately distinguishes this record from its three predecessors, yet a far more significant evolution has occurred: Guitarist Julian Swales has mothballed some of his galactic effects pedals for a more traditional sound that is less shimmery, but no less powerful. And while these are welcomed refinements, the familiar frank narratives of passion and heartache penned by frontman Patrick Fitzgerald remain happily untouched. He poetically depicts a universe of lust and sinful delight, where fantasy ("I'll get the pencils/We'll draw ourselves a new world") triumphs over staggering reality ("When you're in love/You have someone to hit"). The soundtrack to your orgy on Mars: "Sand On Fire," "Thought He Had Everything," "One Of Those Sometimes Is Now," and "Pierced."
The following is a December 4, 1997 review of Patrick's band, Fruit, from New Music Express. The original text is located here, but I've included it here for posterity.
FOR PATRICK Fitzgerald, this solo album is a chance to come out of the closet. Nothing to do with his sexuality; if you weren't already aware, the self-mockingly camp title tells you all you need to know there. No, the particular wardrobe he must extract himself from is marked, 'Critically-lauded but unlikely to bother the shelf-stackers at Our Price'.
After all, following some marvellous records with Kitchens Of Distinction, their label dropped them. So you can't blame him for opening with a song that brazenly threatens to eat the Top 20. It's a squelchingly-lascivious tune called 'What Is Fruit?', where he barks, Mark E Smith-style, a list of all the things fruit are; "queer and scary", "killing in a cartoon way", and, bizarrely, "two coppers in the kitchen". As openings go, it's only slightly less bewildering than playing Trivial Pursuit in Latvian. But that, surely, is the point. Because the album is subtitled, '11 Assorted Fruit Flavours'; meaning they can be unashamedly pop, sound a bit a like David Bowie, play acoustic eulogies, or bash out brash guitar crunchers. Which permits songs as diverse as 'Leather Jacket' - a menacing rumble of bigotry, fear and gay-bashing that ends with a brutal gunshot before turning into an even scarier factual reprise; and 'Starring Relationship' - a sardonic critique of people who talk constantly about their love lives, involving Miki Berenyi swearing like a fishwife and moaning about men. So no change there then.
But the collaborations don't end there. 'Close Personal Friends' is a dreamlike duet with Isobel from Drugstore that hides infanticide under its beautifully serene surface, whilst 'Prowler' allows the honeyed tonsils of David McAlmont to live out all the smoky, torch-song fantasies Bernard forbade.
Inevitably there's the odd mangy apple, but this is mostly magnificently scabrous, eloquent, and salacious stuff. Therein lies the true answer to 'What Is Fruit?'. And that's a fine album. - Jim Alexander
December 28, 1997 review of Patrick's band Fruit from Twee Kitten, original text located here.
What made Kitchens of Distinction stand apart from all of the other wah-wah pedal slinging core of early 90s English pop groups was two things, one they had an unending string of beautiful collages of sparkling noise and simple beats, and second Patrick Fitzgerald proved to be a lyricist of no equal during his prime. Well the Kitchens are dead and from their ashes arises Fruit, the new solo project (although it prominently features the other two Kitchens as well) from Patrick the lead singer and bass player.
And well, this record is a disappointment, gone is the shimmering wall of noise created so effortlessly by Julian Swales and in is a ragged attempt at updating his musical resume. Patrick has installed decidedly non-funky beats into the mix, some electronics, tape effects and an easy atmosphere, and well I would say this ranks far below all of his previous efforts as a member of Kitchens of Distinction.
The record opens with the first single 'What is Fruit?' and it is just plain awful, the song sounds like something Bono might consider hip. The album moves through similar sounding songs, sure there are a few highlights the delightfully pop 'Sally's Car' and the highly percussive and intriguing 'Leather Jacket', but mostly the record only hints at past glories. Patrick's voice is less impassioned than usual and being relegated to a supporting role only, Julian's guitar contributions are not as effective.
There probably will not be a domestic release, and well I can't say I would recommend you buy this record on import. As funky as a flat tire.
The following is a January 9, 1999 review of Patrick's band, Lost Girls, from New Music Express. The original text is located here, but I've included it here for posterity.
This one I'm hanging on to. Over a wasted, civil war-style landscape comes a vocal that sounds like some daughter of Tim Buckley intoning a lament for the dead, before gradually the drones in the background pick themselves up like soldiers come back to life and start flitting about the song like busy little sprites. The further two tracks, 'A Reason To Live' and 'Seen Before' continue in a similar vein of sober but not po-faced beauty. I know nothing about Lost Girls; all I know is the world should know more about them.
The following is a February 6, 1999 review of Patrick's band, Lost Girls, from New Music Express. The original text is located here, but I've included it here for posterity.
Lost Girls, like almost everyone in the singles pile this week, have a fair bit of previous form - being Patrick Fitzgerald of the deathlessly fine Kitchens Of Distinction and Heidi Berry, faintly medieval songstrel once of Creation and 4AD.
The aesthetic here is predominantly space-folk, all dissolute wailing and crepuscular atmospherics, so that 'Needle's Eye' comes on like a late-'90s update of This Mortal Coil's 'Song To The Siren'.
The following is a March 19, 1999 review of Patrick's band, Lost Girls, from New Music Express. The original text is located here, but I've included it here for posterity.
For the most part, it's his partner in song, sometime 4AD folk artist Heidi Berry, who leads the Girls cautiously down avenues of detailed introspection and restrained drones. It's a courteous noise, yet wholly unpleasant, and one which, on songs like 'Needle's Eye', partially hides Berry's earnest full-moon yearnings. They're not lost at all; rather, the journey's just begun.
Novak, meanwhile, are still trying to find a direction. Having deliberated for too long over any singular governing style, the Birmingham seven-piece now seem determined to assert their independence by indulging their individual musical whims, often sacrificing a much-needed coherence in the process.
One of the initial attractions of Novak lay in the way they eked a vague beauty from such structured chaos, yet hampered tonight by poor sound, not even 'Boy Scouts Of America' or 'Hotter Is Faster' can honestly profess to contain anything as extravagant as a tune. Some face is salvaged with the final faux-naive rumble of 'Lord Of The World'. Frustratingly, it's too little too late. -Piers Martin
THE TOILETS OF DESTRUCTION/THE JOLLYPOPS
Guardian, August 6 1990
Evening Standard, August 6 1990
MAKE NO mistake, the Toilets are the best new band to hit these parts since Lesbian Dopeheads on Mopeds, Crappy Runways, maybe even the Bone Noses. Song titles were few on the ground, but then again you probably can't read anyway. Suffice to say, the one about the "wild" "thing" sounded like a primal caveman belch outta hell, and the one about "being" "a hero" "just for one day" - dedicated to some mysterious 'friend' in Switerland - was good enough to have been penned by Tom 'I'm A Very Sexual Person' Warrior.
The big bird singer got her tits out for the lads - no puffs here, mate - before she started talkin' dirty about "staining the carpet" and such like on another new song called 'Sister Ray'. Only bad bit was when some bloke next to me started moaning insanely about "kitchens of distinction". Take no notice, because it goes without saying this is one band who won't be getting flushed away.
EVENTS like this - a genuine carefree celebration - happen so rarely that obviously circumstances dictate pop policy, rooted here in a shared tour that's taken both bands from being labelmates to stablemates.
The Popinjays bounce through their material, including the now steaming slabs of "Thinking About The Weather" (next single) and "Please Let Me Go" and they make a curious spectacle: grimly determined, a breath away from panic until they relax and bathe in the relief of sumptuous choruses, none more desirable than the newest song, "Vote Elvis".
The first thing you notice about The Kitchens is that they're awfully excited about something. The second thing is that they are dressed as women. I am closer than I care to be to Patrick, half Su Pollard, half Myra Hindley. That's sexy. They leap at once into cover-versions mode, and if we ignore the mercifully brief "Wild Thing", they produced a vivacious "Bela Lugosi's Dead" at three times the proper speed, a spellbinding tribute to Napalm Death and a version of "Heroes" that sounded like the end of the world. The guitar sound of The Kitchens is that of a giant turbine stripping its bearings; astonishingly loud, fluent melodic and metallic poisoning that makes Albini's best efforts sound like Chris Rea.
For encores both bands combine. We enjoy a tortured "Mama Mia" and "I Love You Love Me Love", which is the right side of totally gormless. Events like this seldom end on such a high note, but they took us higher and higher until we found Heaven on Earth.
Dublin Castle, Camden, London - December 1995
One of the great mysteries of life was the fact that the Kitchens of Distinction were not one of the most popular bands in the country. They had everything, their own sound, clever lyrics and a devoted fanbase. Today the question is not why haven't they made the charts but why haven't they got a record contract and why must they resort to playing a show in the back room of a Camden pub?
KoD consist of three people - Dan on the drums, Patrick singing and playing bass and Julian on the guitar. Though this doesn't sound like a line-up which is likely to produce a sound much different to any of the other three piece combos around, they do.
In 'Q' magazine, a KoD album review once discussed the qualities of the keyboards. The Kitchens of Distinction have no keyboards, the reviewer was assuming that the music that he had heard could not have been made by a guitar. KoD achieve their wonderfully different sound with pedals, the bass alone has seven of them but it's Julian's guitar which makes the really incredible noise. Live he proves that the sound that they record is no fluke by faithfully recreating each one.
While Julian plays, Patrick sings earnestly about the problems that love creates. His often tender lyrics hiding his strong sense of humour. Between songs he is always keen to communicate with the audience. "You piss all over Oasis", someone shouts. "I'd love to piss on Oasis", comes Patrick's reply, closely followed with a hand covering his mouth as he realises this may cause some offence to Oasis. "In a sexual way", he adds which will probably cause Oasis more offence than the original quip. Maybe this will lead to a Kitchens of Distinction versus Oasis battle in the media which could give them the kick start they need. We can only hope. McAlmont, of McAlmont and Butler fame, is standing in the audience. He is supposed to be playing a show elsewhere in the capital but has cancelled due to throat problems. It takes Patrick little effort to persuade him to become a guest singer. For one song the beauty of KoD's music and range of McAlmont's voice combine to create one of music's perfect moments. Stuff Oasis, the only help KoD need is a recording contract.
Author unknown (Rage: Issue 9, Jan-Feb 1996)
Camden Monarch, Camden, London