In our ears today at the Send Me Your Ears studio, we’re listening to Amateur Ornithologist’s latest single, Hermit Phase. Amateur Ornithologist is the brainchild of Daniel J Clifford of Gateshead UK. Aided by Matt Hardy on drums.
Clifford describes himself as neurodivergent, which he says causes awkward social interactions. His aim is to express himself through his music and create scenarios where people may begin to reach a level of understanding for people like himself.
Hermit Phase asks why are his experiences so different to the lives of his more confident, fitter, child-raising friends? He wonders if some kind of self imposed exile might help sort him out and he’s very earnest in the way he gets his message across. It’s pretty inspirational stuff.
Hermit Phase lets you know you’re in for a fun couple of minutes by starting with a few shots on cowbell before moving in to a fast paced, lo-fi 80s feeling song, reminiscent perhaps of Kraftwerk or Gary Newman.
Vocally, we were reminded of Roger Hodgson of Supertramp. Not in any way their style of music, but most definitely some nuances in Clifford’s vocal style were very reminiscent of early Supertramp. The addition, of course, of some great backing vocals, and well placed harmonies made the track feel even more Hodgson-esque.
The rhythm section in this track, provided by Matt Hardy are, for the most part, nice and simple and keep the beat, but once in a while, you’re treated to a little rim shot, cowbell or a slick tom fill to let you know that you’re listening to a very capable drummer. Occasional use of tambourine helps to separate out different sections of the song too.
At 2 and a half minutes long, Hermit Phase is pretty short for a pop song, and that in itself also reminded us of a lot of early 80s ska and punk type songs. It’s almost as if Clifford says what he needs to say and then disappears back to his Hermit Phase.
From a production perspective, we’d suggest a cut around 2500Hz in the lead melody on the guitar. Doing so should bring the vocals more up front and make those all important lyrics pop a little more. We’d suggest a boost of the bottom 3 octaves, especially centred around 80Hz to balance the low end. A cut centred around 700-800 will make the track a little fuller and a boost of the top 3 octaves will add some extra life and brightness into the overall song.
Amateur Ornithologist has created a fun and bouncy and somewhat quirky track in which he hopes to express himself and bring better understanding to neurodivergent people like himself. We believe he’s done a great job of this and look forward to hearing what he produces next.