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“Album” Review: Darren Hayman – January Songs

By on Wednesday, 19th January 2011 at 12:00 pm

Editor’s note: The ‘let’s write a new song a day, every day’ approach Darren Hayman, best known for his work in Hefner, is taking for the month of January didn’t really fit into any of the usual categories at TGTF, but we felt so strongly about bringing attention to the amazing effort Hayman is putting into this project, we had to write about him.

Words by Shari Fedak

I’ve been a long-term fan of Darren Hayman‘s work, from his work with Hefner to his more recent solo work: ‘Essex Arms’, released last October, was one of my favourite albums of 2010. And for this last year my Christmas came late, when Darren announced his January Songs project.

It’s been a bit like a Christmas Advent calendar, too – a brand new song every day, free to download for a day or two, and higher-quality versions available for purchase on Bandcamp for £1. I’ve been considerably impressed with all of the songs released so far – not just as a fan of his work but also as a musician. They’re all well-written and thoughtfully composed pieces; just the sheer thought of doing the same thing myself is unfathomable. He hasn’t missed a day yet. He writes new lyrics every day, and a new song to go along with it and records it all, all in one single day. I don’t know how he does it and manages to be so brilliant every time. If that’s not enough, most of the songs are accompanied by drawings and a sneak peek at the lyrics. There’s videos too. I hope he sleeps for at least two months starting the 1st of February.

It’s hard to pick a favourite of all the songs that have been offered – the 7th of January’s song ‘Esplanade Drive’ is a personal favourite thus far, the 8th of January‘s ‘Old Man’s Hands’ with trumpet by Terry Edwards – thoughtful, touching and lovely) – or the 14th of January’s collaboration with the Wave Pictures, ‘Who Hung the Monkey?’ – catchy, jangly and clever. There’s a wide range of moods and themes represented; 16/01/11’s ‘Let Me Sleep’, with vocals by Jack Hayter (formerly of Hefner) is utterly haunting. A video of the 10th of January’s song, ‘I Know I Fucked Up’ featuring Elizabeth Morris of ‘Allo Darlin, is below.


I highly recommend you go have a listen. Follow him on Twitter for timely updates or check out his Tumblr for videos, drawings and other unique items. all the songs can be listened to on Hayman’s Soundcloud (and a few are currently downloadable) and if you would like to high-quality versions, please purchase them on – worth every penny. You should also definitely check out the calendar: much like an advent calendar, it shows the shape of the things to come but is vague enough to be exciting.

Darren Hayman and the Secondary Modern play a one-off show at London’s Lexington on Monday 30 January; the show also features Jack Hayter, World of Fox and the Man Who Loves You.


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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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