chris hickey
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chris hickey

South Pasadena, California, United States

South Pasadena, California, United States
Band Alternative Acoustic


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos




It’s rare to hear an artist exposing his thoughts, observations, and himself, in such a simple and direct manner. This album has moved me more than any other I have heard this year, more than that I cannot say… - Tony Porter


Subversively and sublimely, he has managed to create songs that propel the listener to rethink ideas, reconsider past notions, and get moved in the process. The way Hickey creates songs as reckoning media can only be compared favorably to the work of the greatest living songwriters, such as Bob Dylan, Sufjan Stevens, Joni Mitchell, Mark Eitzel, Sam Phillips, and Tom Waits. Like these other artists, Hickey doesn’t censor himself and restrict his output to positive, uplifting songs. He focuses on questions and on the meaning of existence. - John R. Williamson


Hickey is not one to waste a note or let any kind of studio noodling interfere with the force of his words. And increasingly throughout his career, he has devoted the power of his words not to the big idea but to the expansive poignancy of the small things. - Edward Whitelock


"Razzmatazz" is one of my favorite discs of the year and was one of the most pleasant suprises of 2009. - Hal Bogerd


What puts his music over the top are his concise and revealing lyrics and his plaintive, matter-of-fact vocals... Hickey is a very special artist, who combines intellectual depth with emotional resonance and well-crafted music to accompany his lyrics. - Mike Bennett


On "Kitchen," the standout track of his third solo record, Chris Hickey sings, "If my vision fails when I'm crossing over / I'll use my hands like anyone / Sometimes a nail in my kitchen table rises / I hammer it down like I would in anyone else's kitchen." The musical accompaniment is understated but evocative: palm-muted eighth notes on acoustic guitar, well-placed cello swells, shaker and percussion loops, and the ringing vocal harmonies of Hickey and his former Uma bandmate Sally Dworsky. Like most of the tunes on Release, the quiet but powerful "Kitchen" resonates long after the last note has rung out. Although his wordplay sometimes recalls Dylan, Hickey also has a knack for sharp, melodic tunes that are evocative in spite of their simplicity. Twenty-five years ago, Hickey was a member of the Spoilers, an LA punk/pop band influenced by Johnny Rotten and Bruce Springsteen. He recorded solo records in 1985 and 1987, plus albums with the bands Show of Hands and Uma. Release doesn't betray his hard-rocking roots, but it definitely reveals a talent born of experience and persistence. It makes you want to check out his previous work and, more importantly, look forward to what he'll produce next. - Drew Pearce


Chris Hickey's peripatetic career has found him issuing two excellent and hard-to-find lo-fi solo albums, as well as performing with folk-rock trio, Show of Hands, and the more recent Americana-influenced Uma, over the span of two decades. With Release, he returns to his homegrown roots, crafting minimalist songs with sparse instrumentation. Painterly, imagistic and self-questioning, he writes quiet ruminations on the human condition that are deeply personal, yet with subtly ingratiating hooks. Hickey's songs decline the overblown bombast of today's singing-songwriting blowhards, largely deferring to graceful, folk-style acoustic accompaniment behind his burnished vocals. Cello underpins the contemplative "Kitchen," with close harmonies by Hickey's paramour, Sally Dworsky; should-be hits "Friday Morn'" and "Palisades" belie sparkling pop nuances; '60s-styled psychedelia echoes through "So Many Pieces" and "Wheel." Judicious use of percussion, bass, accordion and keyboards augment songs in an almost subliminal fashion. The 11 tracks here are pithy and immediate, clutter- and fat-free, the antithesis of the CD era's largess. Once the last track, "Walking Away" finishes, you will find yourself drawn back - naturally and effortlessly - to the beginning. - Larry O. Dean


I can't quite call Hickey underrated, since he's spent so little time even near the spotlight. Two major label one shots and two solo albums in the ‘80s aren't quite enough to establish a presence. But I think he is one of the best singer-songwriters I have ever heard. He has a voice that commands attention – not because of some incredible range, but because his voice has a plaintive intensity. It is perfect for his concise sketch-like lyrics that don't tell the whole story, yet give you enough to go on. His music is likewise simple. He knows the secret of the perfect bridge and the ultimate chord change that can lift a song into sublime territory. This album is haunting and beautiful, vulnerable and reassuring. - TOP 20 RECORDINGS OF 2003 by Mike Bennett


One hopes a talent this rich will find a place alongside his influences as premier songwriter in the folk rock tradition. - College Music Journal


Since becoming affiliated with MOKB, I'm never more than a day or two from being completely overwhelmed by email. I'll be honest, I get a lot of crap, but I try to make a point of listening to any and all submissions that come directly from musicians. It's not that I have anything against reps; far from it, but my affinity for the underdog naturally draws me to musicians whose passion (or stubbornness) compels them forsake assistance, and slug it out in the music biz unaided.

Tonight, I rescued what I reckon is a loose diamond from amid the promises of penis enlargement and discount steroids in my Spam folder. Singer-songwriter Chris Hickey sniffed the big time with his band Show Of Hands back in the evil-80s, and has since cranked out a string of well-received solo records, as well as made cameo appearances on a handful of top shelf releases from the likes of Michael Penn and Joe Henry. For his latest, Razzmatazz, Hickey summoned the muses of low-fi accidents and general providence, composing and recording 16 skeletal songs on a digital voice recorder in the comfort of his South Pasadena bedroom. Razzmatazz will officially see the light of day on July 7th, but MOKB is pleased to serve up an early taste of the record with Kerouac, an understated, tongue-twisting paean to the unwitting and ill-equipped face of the "Beat Generation. " - Luftmensch


Razzmatazz by Chris Hickey
(2009 - Work-fire Recordings)

Release by Chris Hickey
(2003 - Work-fire Recordings)
*artist /co-producer

Fare Well by Uma
(1998 - Refuge / MCA Records)
*band member

Show of Hands by Show of Hands
(1989 - IRS / MCA Records)
*band member

Looking for Anything by Chris Hickey
(1987 - CNC Records)
*artist / producer

Frames of Mind, Boundaries of Time
by Chris Hickey (1985 - CNC Records)
*artist / producer

The Honey Guide
by Shannon Worrell (2008 - Dualtone Music Group)
*songwriting, select track

Boxes by Sally Dworsky
*songwriting, guitar, background vocals - select tracks

Civilians by Joe Henry
(2007 - ANTI)
*background vocals

Palms & Runes, Tarot & Tea: A Michael Penn Collection
(2007 - SONY LEGACY)
*background vocals

Rarities by Indigo Girls
(2005 - Sony Records)
*background vocals

Mad Dog Sessions by Phil Cody
(2002 - Tiny Head Records)
*background vocals

National Boulevard by Shrubbers
(1997 - Raj Records)
*background vocals

Free for All by Michael Penn
(1992 - RCA Records)
*background vocals

Deadicated: A Tribute to the Grateful Dead
(1991 - Arista Records)
*background vocals



Chris Hickey wrote and recorded a song, each day, for about three weeks. The result is "Razzmatazz" - 16 songs, just vocal & guitar, recorded in his bedroom on a hand-held digital voice recorder. (Listen to "Kerouac", above or click on audio)

Available on Sept. 29th at and iTunes.

Chris Hickey has three previous solo records, was a member of the bands “Uma” and “Show of Hands”, and has appeared on records by Joe Henry, Michael Penn, Indigo Girls, and more.

Band Members