MJ Hibbett & The Validators
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MJ Hibbett & The Validators

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The best kept secret in music

Press


"Record Of The Year"

MJ Hibbett and the Validators, This Is Not a Library (Artists Against Success)
OutKast are all well and good, but we're not ashamed to admit that all the hippin' and a-hoppin' and the bippin' and a-boppin' says nothing to us about our lives. Whereas an insanely prolific, remarkably witty bespectacled thirtysomething comic book geek from the Midlands, working the classic C-86 idiom in genuine obscurity, hustling his music on the darkest outskirts of popular culture? You know it!

The criminally unknown Mark Hibbett speaks the words we feel inside, prolix and verbose songs of nationalism, privatization, nostalgia, social injustice, body fascism, media overload, illicit sex and pub life, adorned with twee girl backing vox, martial trumpets and bountiful ba-ba-bas. Fuck the fucking Libertines -- this is the true face of post-millennial Albion!
- Rolling Stone Online


"A rabble-rousing musical polemicist"

There's a bias against politicized rock music in America, fostered by the knock-kneed notions that "real" art somehow rises above political "propaganda", or that political discourse is not "entertaining", or that lyrics with political content are too "obvious", or that their views are insubstantial and vague. Of course, all such criticism constitutes a politics itself -- a reactionary one that bristles when the status quo is questioned. MJ Hibbett, a rabble-rousing musical polemicist of the Billy Bragg school, deals with these kinds of critics on This Is Not a Library's first song, wherein he lays out a ludicrously specific political program to demonstrate what a silly expectation that is to have of an artist. On the songs that follow, he succeeds in raising provocative points without ever seeming dour, humorless or self-righteous. While his topics can be somewhat Anglocentric (the significance of the "Holdalls Is the New Name for Midland Mainline Lost Property", for example, will be lost on most Americans), he still touches on many things to which we all can relate. In fact, many of Hibbett's songs are about pubs: enumerating the pubs in a his town, proclaiming the pub to be the symbol of his nation, anatomizing the sentimentality that surrounds pubs, and so on. Much of the album has the sound of having been conceived in pubs, whether on makeshift stages or at a table with a few pints, hashing out the many ways in which the system screws people over. This gives even the album's most specious rants a feeling of warmth, and permits you to afford Hibbett the leeway you'd give to someone you thought might be inebriated.

This Is Not a Library generally sounds like a rudimentary approximation of the Belle and Sebastian sound, with all its peppy beats, busy strumming and Herb Alpert-style horn licks. There are some cheerful female backing vocals, but the songs are largely dominated by Hibbett's tuneless, heavily-accented tenor, which lands somewhere between Mark. E. Smith of the Fall and the guy who sang for Madness. His voice is definitely an acquired taste, but it makes a point -- much like Liz Phair's flat, pre-Avrilized voice once did -- that you don't need a great voice as long as you've something interesting to say. Which is why we hope that Hibbett will continue to record albums, and that Liz Phair will shut up forever. - Splendid EZine


"MJ Hibbett Is A Genius"

FAC193

MJ Hibbett is a genius. He and his merry band known as The Validators, stepping fiercely on the toes of mopey rain-soaked British poppers, are helping to return a bit of life to rock and pop. You may have never heard of them, but you better educate yourself. Quickly.

This is Not A Library is a ray of sunshine blasting through overly serious indie pop, neither twee nor melancholy. Between 2000 and 2003, these 18 songs came to life thanks to the assistance of Frankie Machine, Tom McClure, Emma and Tim Pattison. “The Symbol of Our Nation” (from whom the group take the name of this album) is damn perky, with brass bringing perhaps a tad of that Sixties London into their sound, and in fact the brass informs and imbues the majority of the album. They just as often can sound like the best damn pub band on earth, like in the hokey “Good Cooking”. MJ Hibbett himself sounds to be the lovechild of Billy Bragg and Mark E. Smith (on the earlier Fall records) which automatically sets him apart from the scores of Morrissey disciples (and that bloke from The Music who sounds like Steve Perry from Journey).

“One Last Party” ends the album with a bang, and don’t forget the ‘futuristic multimedia’ also included, with scads of demos and unused tracks, lyrics and everything but the kitchen sink. Bless ‘em, these Validators. - FAC193.com


"Love It!"

As concepts go, MJ Hibbett & the Validators are as barking as Rick Wakeman’s ‘King Arthur On Ice’, Señor Coconut’s ballroom dancing take on Kraftwerk and Deep Purple, and Kiss taking the make-up off. If you’re old enough to remember Ivor Biggun And The Red-Nosed Burglars you’ll feel instantly at home with MJ Hibbett, but where Ivor Biggun was content to regale us with tales of being reincarnated as the seat on a fat ladies’ bike and endless bouts of onanism, Hibbett’s concerns are more cerebral. ‘The Symbol Of Our Nation’ and ‘Last Orders’ make a compelling case for elevating humble village pubs to national treasures, while elsewhere he turns his attentions to the minutiae of daily life with all the ease of Chris T-T and Hefner’s Darren Hayman. That he chooses to dress up his work in the cast-off’s of brass bands, buskers and novelty muzak studios matters not a jot, though the fact that the likes of (Prolapse drummer) Tim Pattison and Frankie Machine are behind that hedge of sound will raise some eyebrows. If pressed for a pigeonhole, ‘This Is Not A Library’ fits somewhere between Belle & Sebastian and The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, but really, this is in a field all its own. Like it? Love it! - Logo Magazine


"Completely Bloody Brilliant"

It takes a special band to sing a song about the FIFA Fair Play Trophy, and then make you think, ‘My God, Hibbett, I agree with everything you say!’ This is what happens a lot throughout ‘Shed Anthems’ – the latest in a long line of genial records from MJ Hibbett and his lovely Validators. I could tell you a story about the first time I saw this band in Leicester years ago and though that they were called MJ Hibbett & the Vibtrators, but I won’t because that would be plain daft. Instead, I’ll tell you about the euphoric rush of ‘Things’ll Be Different (When I’m in Charge), in which Hibbett says he’ll tax djs to the hilt once he runs the world. And that’s fine by me. But in an ep chock-a-block of ace moments, perhaps the best is the one that doesn’t make you laugh out loud. That being ‘Billy Jones is Dead’ – a sort of ‘Where are they now?’ of all your old school mates. And those who’ve reached thirty and haven’t wondered if your school years happened in a different lifetime are complete liars. Or teachers. Whatever, Shed Anthems is completely bloody brilliant. - Tasty Fanzine


"Steve Lamacq says..."

Our own music troubador, MJ Hibbett is a genius ... this is a record I have really come to love. - BBC 6music


"Literate Ramshackle Genius"

I don’t know if you could call M. J. Hibbett and the Validators anti-folk… In fact I don’t know that you could call M. J. Hibbett and the Validators anything that would make a great deal of sense, because as a rule they tend not to make a great deal of it themselves. This is clearly something to celebrate. And having said that they make no sense, in truth they’ll make all the sense in the world to all the natural outsiders of the world. This is music for those bed and bar room scholars, the ones knocking back a swift half with one eye on the football scores and the other on their copy of Socialist Worker. Perhaps. Certainly their Shed Anthems (is it a mini-album? An EP?) gives you seven tracks in the spirit of Half Man Half Biscuit and George Formby. But without the banjo. Or the annoying voice. Key track to understanding this rabble might be ‘let the weird band win’, a wonderful tribute to the woeful ‘battle of the bands’ contests that are always won by the drearily competent Blues or Punk band and never, I guess, by the likes of M. J. Hibbett and the Validators. Not that I’d know you understand, never having condemned myself to experiencing such a nightmarish event, but I can imagine… Also wonderful is ‘billy jones is dead’, a paean to those days of nostalgic sadness when you cast your mind back and recall, well, those days of imagining futures that never work out. Recalling the literate ramshackle genius of early Animals That Swim, M. J. Hibbert and the Validators are the kind of quirky English group we ought to clutch to our collective bosom, or alternatively buy a pint. I suspect they would prefer the latter. - Tangents


"A Cult Hero"

You remember when the Internet was going to change everything? Record labels were going to become obsolete because bands were all going to release their music themselves. Fans would go out and find music themselves instead of having it rammed down their throats by old men in suits disguised as trendsetters. No more CD's either, everything would be downloaded. Yes, it was all going to be so perfect. Except that the idea was inherently flawed and simply didn't work. Except in the case of MJ Hibbett.

Okay, MJ Hibbett doesn't entirely fit in with the purist's view. He is signed to record label (but it is called Artists Against Success and he does co-own it, so it probably doesn't count) and he still releases CD's. He's succeeded because he has embraced and modified the new technology like no one else. His online single Hey Hey 16k (the first ever, according to AAS) has now been turned into a video by B3ta.com's Rob Manuel and within the first 48 hours of it's release it became the fifth most popular download on the whole internet. It seems, after years of hard graft, MJ Hibbett has made it, despite the fact that almost all of the mainstream media pay him no attention whatsoever.

This new EP is the follow-up to last year's excellent album, This Is Not A Library. The release ties in with Euro 2004 including, as it does, Hibbett's own crack at the football song genre, The Fair Play Trophy (Again), which focuses more on the reality of English football than all the other songs it's up against and pleas for our nation team to win the Fair Play Trophy. Preceding this song is Things'll Be Different (When I'm In Charge), taken from This Is Not A Library and featured here by popular demand. The rest of the EP is made up of two new songs (City Centres and Let The Weird Band Win), a live favourite (Billy Jones Is Dead) and a re-recording of an old song as voted for by fans (The Primal Rhythms Of The Bolivian Nose Flautist).

Listen ye to MJ Hibbett. He is a man of wisdom and also a giver of chuckles. - Indigo Flow


"Everett True says..."

Literate, sassy HUMAN pop music from the Midlands carried off with the usual chirpy Native Hipsters/Yeah Yeah Noh sytle. Fucking great CDr too. LOVE IT! - Careless Talks Costs Lives/Plan B Magazine


Discography

1998 - Born With The Century (7"single)
2000 - Say It With Words (CD album)
2002 - Milk & Baubles EP (CD EP)
2003 - This Is Not A Library (CD album)
2004 - Shed Anthems (CD EP)

Plus various solo MJ Hibbett tracks and compilations - full in-depth discography at http://www.mjhibbett.net/disco.htm

Additional downloads available from http://www.mjhibbett.net/sampler/ and http://www.mjhibbett.net/fairplay/

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

MJ Hibbett was part of various releases (including the "Work Is A Four Letter Word" EP on Fortuna Pop! and Cha Cha 2000's "Autobahn" single) before forming The Validators in 1998, to record the single "Born With The Century". Tim Pattison, formerly of indie rock legends Prolapse, and Frankie Machine, then part of White Town, now a solo artist in his own right, formed the core of the band. Tom McClure joined on violin and string arrangements for their debut album "Say It With Words" in 2000, and a year later Emma Pattison joined on backing vocals, after she and Mark wrote a song together for her marriage to Tim.

This lineup recorded 2003's "This Is Not A Library" album, named as "Record Of The Year" by Rolling Stone's Well Hung At Dawn team and played nearly every week by Steve Lamacq on his BBC 6 radio show. Steve's had MJ in to play live on numerous occasions, most recently for a four week stint to chronicle thee 2004 European Football Championship in song. This coincided with the release of 2004's "Shed Anthems" EP, which has been played on radio stations across Europe, followed by a sellout tour around England.

The Validators popularity has also spread online, with the video for their song "Hey Hey 16k" being downloaded by over half a million people in its first week of release!