Back to Music

The Canterbury sound

Singer-songwriter Eamon Fogarty makes magnetic tunes from esoteric influences

Eamon Fogarty takes circuitous routes to find satisfying sounds. Photo credit: Facebook

Recommend Article
Total Recommendations (0)
Clip Article Email Article Print Article Share Article

Over the past few weeks, in preparation for a move, I've been shuffling through my record collection to decide what'll be coming with me. The vast majority of this collection came from my dad, who left them with me when he left the country. I've still not had the chance to listen to a lot of these albums, but I did notice a very specific subgenre being represented, and I love nothing more than hyper-specific specific subgenres. In this case, my dad apparently owned a fair amount of what would eventually become known as music belonging to the "Canterbury scene."

Like Madchester and other regionally specific genres, the Canterbury scene is inextricably linked to a time and place: Canterbury, Kent, England, in the ‘60s and into the early ‘70s. Leaning on psychedelia, jazz-fusion, and a heavy usage of improvisation, some of the Canterbury scene's core bands were Soft Machine, Gong, Hatfield and the North, and Caravan, all of whom are present in my dad's collection. Meanwhile, as is the case with so many other designations, the people being given that label tend to be ambivalent, waving the concept of the Canterbury scene off as being needlessly reductive.

Certainly, when I listen to singer-songwriter Eamon Fogarty, I don't hear much in the way of the sound I would associate with acts in the Canterbury scene, but Fogarty himself tags his music as such on his Bandcamp page. Interviews with Fogarty reveal that, when he was a burgeoning artist, he made a deep dive into the music nerd territory of progressive and avant-garde rock, but the music he ended up making is a good deal more immediate than the brazenly experimental music he grew up hearing. Fogarty might have more a pop-minded songwriting style than the Canterbury scene artists, but he still finds unique and offbeat ways of approaching the singer-songwriter style, embellishing spare instrumentation with electronic flourishes and accessing counterintuitive melodies.

Fogarty's greatest asset is his mellifluous croon, which serves as the steadying center to songs that sometimes take circuitous routes to satisfying ends. In tone, he occasionally resembles Smog's Bill Callahan, or maybe a slightly pitched-up Matt Berninger from the National. His patient, unpredictable 2017 album is titled Progressive Bedroom, a winking allusion to yet another hyper-specific subgenre that may describe his work. Label him however you want, but Fogarty has proven himself to be a thoughtful composer, and a voracious explorer of music. Whatever tunes he's making now, I can see them sounding completely different in a couple years' time. Fogarty seems to have the mind of a sonic wanderer, and I'd happily pass some of my Gong and Caravan albums off to him when he swings through town.

EAMON FOGARTY, w/ Sun Ray Eel, 10 p.m., Friday, March 1, Le Voyeur, 404 E. Fourth Ave., Olympia, cover TBA, 360.943.5710,


From the psychedelic-adjacent music of Eamon Fogarty, we move on to the much more paisley-patterned psych-pop of Withering Blooms. The Seattle-based six-piece crafts kaleidoscopic pop that owes as much to the work of Brian Wilson, Ray Davies and Jeff Lynne as it does to psychedelia revivalists like the Brian Jonestown Massacre, the Flaming Lips and My Morning Jacket. Tales from the Jaguar Lounge, Withering Blooms' recently released mini-LP, is a loose concept album centering around the dizzy goings-on at a mythical watering hole for the eternally searching. Over the course of eight songs, Withering Blooms show a knack for bright harmonies, loopy atmospherics, and the kind of hooks that will lead you down any wild path they're wanting to travel. Sometimes, as on spoken word interludes like "Open" and "Hey, How Ya Doin'?," Withering Blooms get a little bit sillier than they might intend, but it all comes out in the wash as a delightful, sun-dappled, affably trippy listen.

WITHERING BLOOMS, w/ Retro Jade, 9 p.m., Thursday, March 7, Rhythm and Rye, 311 Capitol Way N., Olympia, $5, 360.705.0760

comments powered by Disqus

Site Search