Remnants - Latest Album Release
"Remnants" is a unique indie album with catchy tunes, a great mix of styles, insightful lyrics, and a retro sound that truly takes you out of this world. With about 68 minutes of music, you certainly get quite a bit your money's worth in what would have taken up 2 discs in the days of vinyl (which are returning, strangely enough, but not for this particular release, at least not yet).
"Hello, Hello" is a nice upbeat rock song reminiscent of the McCartney-dominated songs of the Beatles. "Escape" is a piano driven rock song at its soul with a dark feel, reminiscent of an alternative rock take on a Coldplay song. "Paris Is Burning" brings to life the romance of the City of Light and refers to the passion for the city that burns within for so many, while "Soiled Dove" is a romantic ballad about one of the "ladies of the night" of an Old West frontier town, and the song title is one the terms used at that time to refer to such working girls.
"What They Told Me" has easily relatable lyrics about what we have been told all our lives to accept as truth without question, and how those things may not always ring true, despite what we have always been told. "Cascade" is a tune that wonderfully delivers a spiritual message with passion in a synth-driven song with an up-tempo beat, unlike the typical mellow, light feel of most songs with that type of theme. "Talk" delivers a powerful positive message about simply helping lift each other through open communication.
"Remnants of the Human Race", the semi-title track, is a dark sci-fi track reminiscent of the style of David Bowie in which humanity is forced to flee Earth or face extinction due to some poor technological choices. "What Have You Done?", a song about the pain and angst felt at the end of a love relationship, has a nice turn near the end as the song modulates upward to allow the subject person in the song to release his final frustrations and then allow the song to smooth and mellow out and offer a more hopeful outlook for the future.
The more mellow folk type song "Passing Thru" starts out sounding like it could be played by someone in a dark, smoky corner of any beer guzzling bar; but at the bridge, there is a very abrupt wake-up call with a powerful rock-out before being smoothed back out with another low key verse. The song has its dynamic ups and downs as well as truly relatable lyrics. "While Everyone Was Sleeping" was actually written a few years ago, but its political commentary about the domination of the many by the few in our society still holds true today (and actually has throughout most of history). This song received a semi-finalist award in the 2011 Song of the Year contest.
Finally, "Where Have You Gone?" is a nearly nine minute song about loss of family and friends that is reminiscent of the songs from the classic rock era that were only played on the AOR stations due to their length. But this one doesn't drag; it is like a two-parter, where the base of the song, the first part, is a bit different from the ending section, almost like two different songs were joined together, but joined seamlessly (like "Layla" from Derek and the Dominoes).
"Remnants" was produced/engineered, mixed/mastered, and mostly recorded at London Bridge Studios, Seattle, WA (who has had such notable clients as Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, and Macklemore/Ryan Lewis) this spring/summer of 2016.
Music & Lyrics by John Hickman, all tracks
John Hickman –
Lead & Background Vocals, all tracks
Keyboards, all tracks except tracks 10 & 11
Very special thanks to the following fine musicians for their tremendous contributions to this album:
Shohei Ogami – Guitars (all tracks except 4, 10, & 11)
Jonathan Plum – Bass (all tracks 2, 5, 9, 10, & 11)
Adrian Vanbatenburg – Drums & Percussion, all tracks
Tim DeHuff – Guitars (tracks 10 & 11)
Andrew Fox – Keyboards (tracks 10 & 11)
Mikhail Pivovarov – Bass (tracks 10 & 11)
Ally Jenkins – Violin (tracks 10 & 11)
Laurel Pistey – Cello (tracks 10 & 11)
Ken Fordyce – Bass (tracks 5 & 9)
John Hickman – Keyboard Bass (track 2)
Mixing/Engineering – Jonathan Plum
Mastering – Geoff Ott
Album Cover Art and Liner Notes Graphic Design – John Hickman
NASA space mission audio samples used in “Remnants of the Human Race” are courtesy of the NASA Audio Collection on archive.org. These audio samples are in the public domain and no commercial endorsement by NASA is meant to be implied or inferred by their use.
Music & Lyrics for all tracks & Album Cover Art - Copyright © 2016 John Hickman
Paris Is Burning –
One may notice that many historical and literary references are used in the lyrics of this song. First of all, the idea for the title comes from the historical novel, which was later made into a movie, entitled "Is Paris Burning?" which recounts the drama that took place near the end of WWII during the Nazi occupation of France when Nazi General Dietrich VonCholtitz was ordered by Adolf Hitler to burn Paris to the ground before it was liberated by the approaching Allied forces. It was believed that Hitler had personally phoned VonCholtitz to inquire, "Is Paris Burning?". But VonCholtitz could not bring himself to carry out the order. He did not want to be known as the man who destroyed Paris, and actually surrendered the city to the French Resistance months before the end of the war. The lyric, "A beauty that no one could destroy”, is a reference to his reluctance to set a city as beautiful as Paris on fire. Of course, he also probably realized that the war was soon to be lost for the Germans, and sparing the city would grant him some leniency in his treatment by the Allies after the war.
Literary references in the song include variations of well-known lyrics adapted from Cole Porter's song "I Love Paris" - "A city that sizzles, even when it drizzles". "A moveable feast for the eyes" refers to the writer Ernest Hemmingway’s description of Paris as a moveable feast. Paris has also been referred to as the "City of Light", and it is believed this term originated from it being a vast center of education and ideas during the Age of Enlightenment in the 18th century. However, it was also the first city in Europe to light up a major boulevard, as gas lamps were placed along the Champs-Elysées in 1828.
More contemporary literary references in the song mention a couple of lyrics from songs of the band, The Doors, in tribute to its late singer Jim Morrison, who is buried in the famous Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris: "Dancing on fire...Taking you higher”.
The term “soiled dove” was a nickname that was used in the settlements of the American Old West to refer to a prostitute. Many women found themselves with limited options of making a living in the Old West, and were forced into prostitution in order to survive. Of course, there were many other terms used to describe these ladies, such as “ladies of the evening”, “scarlet ladies”, “fallen angels”, and “girl of the line”, the last of which is used in the lyrics of this song.
Many people have heard of the term “red light district” and know what it refers to, but are not sure of its origins. The “red lights” refer to the railroad brakemen’s red lights that were left outside rooms in alleys near the train stations where “business” was being conducted. Their lights were left outside so that they could be found when it was time to return to work. These small “business offices” were set up near the train stations so that railroad workers and passengers in transit could have easy access. The string of red lights sometimes observed in the alleys gave rise to the well-known expression.
True, the huckleberry is a wild berry fruit similar to the blueberry, but is used in the lyrics of this song in the same context as it was used in an expression of the Old West, as a masculine term of endearment. As in “I’m your huckleberry”, which means, “I’m your man”, or “I’m just the man you’re looking for, or “I’m just the man for the job”.