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BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR

Regan McVeigh
Regan McVeigh

CERVIDAE MORTALIS
REGAN MCVEIGH

Reviews are like funerals. While outwardly the ritual of that final send off logically seems to be to honour the dead, it’s for the living. The person in the box moved on the moment they passed, they’re permanently deaf to the wailings and moanings, the kind lies and the hope of an afterlife. So it is with reviews. They’re for the listeners, not the creators. Once that art is out the door, it’s time to move on. Never look back and never read the words of the hacks because those who are kind about your creation are probably taking from you in one way or another and those who aren’t…what the fuck would they know, anyway?

I’m not saying Cervidae Mortalis is terrible, but it’s not good.

In Regan McVeigh’s case, he already knows why no one is paying any attention to his EP, Cervidae Mortalis. He doesn’t need anyone’s review to tell him the fundamental truth that most musicians starting out on their careers seem intent on ignoring: there’s no point sinking all of your money into creating and producing music if you don’t budget for marketing. That’s a sure-fire path to anonymity. No amount of reviews — good, bad or indifferent — will save you from this oversight, Regan.

I’m going to call you Regan (I usually refer to musos by their surnames after the first mention, as it helps to create professional distance), because through our chain of emails regarding this review I feel like I’ve gotten to know you a little bit. I understand that you put your heart and soul into your music. I felt the tickle of your first approach, saying how ‘refreshing’ you found my work. Then, when I signalled the inevitable outcome of your request, I suffered with you your heartbreak while I shrugged off your attempt at manipulation when you wrote that you had been certain I would ‘take a positive angle’. I empathise with your ‘crippling self doubt’, but there’s nothing unique or special about that, Regan.

In my experience, what separates true artists from the wannabes is the absolute need to carry on creating regardless. Anyone who needs external validation is on the slippery slope to addiction, always on the lookout for the next stroke. Choosing that path will kill your creativity as sure as heroin will.

I’m not saying Cervidae Mortalis is terrible, but it’s not good. We have the guitar-lesson arpeggio of opening track, ‘Take Me In’. Then comes the sea shantyesque ‘Don’t Blink’, with its mangled rhymes and attempt at atmosphere that sounds like the wrong take was comped or the track was mixed by an enthusiastic amateur. Next is the hackneyed guitar noodling of ‘Ants’ followed by the banality of the rhyming couplets on ‘Someone’ (Somebody’s in here / Someone I can’t ignore / Somebody’s in here / Making a mess on the floor). By the time I got to the final track, ‘A Part of Me’ and realised it was 12:32 long, I was feeling a bit discouraged. ‘A Part of Me’ delivers more scales that are meant to pass as guitar solos and vocals with so much reverb on them that they’re almost unintelligible.

The production is a feature of Cervidae Mortalis. It’s terrible. It creates scratchy emptiness where there’s meant to be space, takes the music so far out of the reach of the listener as to make it mostly unlistenable and generally kills off the shining hope that is your songs, Regan. Because the songs themselves aren’t too bad. There’s hope for them, as long as there’s hope in you.

But that little Easter egg at the end of ‘A Part of Me’, that wasn’t cute when The Clash tried it on Sandinista and it’s still not cute on your EP, Regan. Then again, Sandinista is regarded as one of The Clash’s best and most diverse outings, so what would I know?

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