Posted September 12, 2006 by Mike Mineo in Features

The Freelance Hellraiser breaks free


Think back to October of 2001. Remember what artists were on the rise and in the spotlight? In the mainstream MTV scene, Christina Aguilera was ruling the charts. On an opposite and peaceful planet where the indie kids dwelled, The Strokes had just released Is This It, which helped awaken a new form of post-punk revival that still continues today. Roy Kerr, known under the odd alias of The Freelance Hellraiser, knew what the media was feeding to the kids and he took full advantage of it. He mixed together Aguilera’s successful song of ‘Genie in a Bottle’ and The Strokes’ ‘Hard To Explain’ to create one of the most popular mash-ups of all time, which he ironically named ‘A Stroke of Genius’. It reached the top ten in the UK, a very admirable position for a song of its craft. After working and mixing with artists such as Placebo, Richard Ashcroft, and Paul McCartney, Kerr released his debut solo album Waiting For Clearance this year.


The songs on Waiting For Clearance tend to be separated in a variety of genres, as Kerr displays his eloquent use of dance, blues, rock, and traditional pop. ‘You Can Cry All You Want’ is the album’s first single, an impressively catchy song that reminds me at times (the latter verses) of a more recent Flaming Lips with the spacey vocals and the sparkling keys. Do the vocals to ‘The Sweetest Noise’ sound familiar? They are done by Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody, who has already made his easily recognizable vocals known by a few universal hits. Lightbody and Kerr have been good friends since their university days and work together musically periodically. I’m not a fan of Snow Patrol but this song has some great moments melodically, though the six minutes overstays its welcome with Lightbody’s repeatitive and droning vocals. The self-titled track is seemingly the most accessible with an easily apparent hook that opens up the album with evident measures. Waiting For Clearance is a very interesting and diverse listening experience that turns out to be quite rewarding.


The Freelance Hellraiser – You Can Cry All You Want



The Freelance Hellraiser – Waiting For Clearance



The Freelance Hellraiser – The Sweetest Noise



The Freelance Hellraiser – A Stroke of Genius



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Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine. Send your music to [email protected].