Leeds Music Scene

Untitled by Mickey Charbagz

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Reviewed on 7th January 2006.



By Mickey Charbagz

Irish Ratbag Mickey Charbagaz resides round these parts, he touts his wares on myspace, has lots of cuties leave messages of love and adoration and he looks rock and roll... well in sort of a dishevelled skinny David Badiel sort of way. So he should be bloody good, shouldn't he?

Bottom damn line. Yes.

The man can sing, although his dirt filled larynx reflects more Texan basement bar than it does Leeds or Belfast taproom. Bitter, open wound lyrics grind through a musical bed laden with folky acoustic riffs. Some striking backing vocals on opener "Night of the worm" add to a pallet which can do no wrong, really.

I spent most of my time listening to this CD in the car. I told the missus "Shut up a sec, I have to review this and your constant twittering puts me off delving deep, getting involved in the music" (Or words to that effect) Halfway through 2nd track "Karen Karpenter" though I was back talking away. And that's my problem here, and one which reflects the rating you see at the top and not the talent of the lad. All three of these tracks are stale and boring, and moreover instantly forgettable.

There are 6 gazillion (approx) Mickey Charbagz touting their wares at the moment, they all have a decent dose of trendies and arty likes who would gladly grovel over hot coals to listen to their music, and they would all sound flippin' fantastic on a random Sunday afternoon down at Dr Woo's. But it's just musac to me. It doesn't excite any passion in my bones and it sure as hell isn't original. Christ it doesn't even stir up much of a giddiness from me on a cold, piss wet through driver home from another day in the rat race.

I respect Charbagz and his like, for they do write beautifully simple tunes, which thanks to t'internet can be fawned over by the trendies. This CD just didn't do anything more for me though, so I will get my coat.



All replies to this article. Log in to post a reply.

On 10th January 2006 at 09:44 Anonymous 5211 wrote...

Dear Mr Martin,

Surely you are entitled to your thoughts on this music, however, I find your review neither fair or inciteful.

To begin by calling him an Irish Ratbag (and then to misspell his name) who doesn't really sound like he is from Belfast OR Leeds - well so what? Surely that has nothing to do with the quality of the music.

I have to be honest, the reason I have signed up to comment on this is because I am a massive fan of Mickey's. I have never met him or seen him live, though I was instantly captured when I heard his music.

However, on further reading of your article, I realised just what it was that was bothering me. You mention that all of these tracks are 'stale, boring and... instantly forgettable.' Now aside from the fact that I would disagree with that - It clung to me what you said - 'I spent most of my time listening to this in the car.' The 'problem' with music like this, is that it requires attention. I dare say stick Nebraska, any Elliott Smith or Nick Drake on in the car and you'd find that these don't capture your attention.

There may be 6 gazillion Charbagz's at Dr Woo's (wherever that is - Wu's?) but surely each one should be judged on their merits. I just find it a little unfortunate that you manage to include a compliment such as him writing "beautifully simple tunes" but after calling the songs 'boring' and state how it is just musac (? muzak?) to youself.

If you really do respect the 'ratbag,' then perhaps you give the music the attention it deserves.


On 10th January 2006 at 15:07 Anonymous 1205 wrote...

Hi Mate,

Cheers for your comments, tis what it is all about this music lark an' all.

"have signed up to comment on this is because I am a massive fan of Mickey's"

Think that must be the main point really, you are a fan so like his music and anyone having a slight pop is bound to ger yer back up...and rightly so mate.

'I spent most of my time listening to this in the car.'

See the word "most" is critical in this line, it isnt exclusive. I also listened to it at home on my sofa and once in the bath (Perfect Elliot Smith surrondings Im sure you will agree!)

"I just find it a little unfortunate that you manage to include a compliment such as him writing "beautifully simple tunes" but after calling the songs 'boring' and state how it is just musac (? muzak?) to youself"

Beautifully simple does not mean good music in my book. it means simple, yet beautiful and I stand by this comment. But my main point was that there is thousands of Mickey's like out there and only few happen to have a distinct edge which stands them aloft. In my opinion (which fair do's you disagree with) Mickey is just another clone from the "melancoly accoustic folk-singer" camp.

"who doesn't really sound like he is from Belfast OR Leeds - well so what? "

In your opinion maybe, but I like my singers accent to reflect the stories they preach. Maybe thats just me, but all my favourite artists have been like this...hey ho !

Anyways cheers for the comments, sorry I couldnt do more to please you.


On 10th January 2006 at 18:21 Anonymous 5211 wrote...

I appreciate your reply.

You're right - I am a fan, so I'm going to try and defend him when is necessary (though i must make it clear - I really don't know the guy, and normally I wouldn't be bothered, aside from the fact that his music really does move me.)

I guess, my main reasoning for posting my comment is that
a) I wanted some answers to some questions (which you have done - thank you)
b) I love his music so much that I wanted to have some defence to go with the only review I've seen of him (if that makes sense). Fair enough - if you ask for a review, you are asking for opinions - good or bad.

However, personally, I find Mickey's work full of textures and far from boring, and I guess I found your comments unqualified - hence the comment about listening in the car.

As you said, rightly, I am entitled to my opinion, as is everyone - and it is easy to fall into the "my opinion is right" mode of thinking - especially when one has a real love of the subject.

It was just that your review seemed to be written in such a colloquial and friendly manner (Irish Ratbag) that when the review turned out to be quite a negative one, terms such as this take on almost a sinister tone.

Again, you are entitled to your opinion, although I think judging a piece of music by it's supposed (or IMposed) origin is a little harsh - as who really does take their sound from their roots. I am from Leeds but have no desire to sound like or be summed up by either the Kaiser Chiefs or Chumbawamba!


On 11th January 2006 at 13:05 Anonymous 1205 wrote...

Crickey mate.....Who would want to be summed up by Chumbawamba!!!!

Thanks for taking the time to pen these replies, it is much appreciated. Too much of my time is spent backing up reviews and arguing with half-wits who have no considered opinion or cant understand the value and virtue of "Opinion". So it is refreshing and appreciated when someone is fairly critical.

I take your point about my style of writing in the first instance been "Colloquial" - I can assure you this is done in a friendly way and probably subconconciously done to deflect from my definative thought line if I dont think a CD is much good....if that makes any sense?!? But I can see how flipped round it can be seen as underhand and will probably look at that in future reviews.

The place of origin is a long and well worn path and I guess it really divides people and (In my case) can perhaps tarnish an otherwise good piece of work.

I like Dizzee Rascal. One of the reasons I like Dizzee is because he rymmes about been born, raised, maimed and dragged through gutters in Bow in the East end. And to coin MC speak he "Spits" like he is from London. If he rapped in a Californian accent would I like him as much, I dont know?

Music is ace mate. And we can both agree love and passion of music is what makes our worlds spin, even if we will beg to differ on Mr Charbagz!


On 11th January 2006 at 23:24 Anonymous 5251 wrote...

I am very interested in this debate on the music of Mickey Charbagz, perhaps more so as someone who actually knows him. One thing I will say is that it is good for any artist to get reviews whether they be good or bad as this hopefully generates debate on their music which is the most important thing. However, I suppose I've been compelled to set up a user name and send this message to clear up one important factor concerning his accent. The accent that he sings in is indeed the accent that he speaks in. He is from Bangor which is on the coastline and on the outskirts of Belfast. Trust me it's not easy understanding a bunch of them sat in heated debate in a room but yes that is the accent of the place! Personally I think he does "spit" it like he lives it. The guy grew up in a war zone playing gigs in venues in the roughest parts of Belfast (one of which was recently shut down for holding weapons under the stage!).
I in no way make these statements to alter a somewhat negative review, that's opinion not fact, but to clear up the point which I feel is against fact in the review.
Thanks for reading this Statement.



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