All Over Your Face, Amy, Fooled You Twice, Hawksley Workman, I Wake Up Everyday, Let Me Be Your Ferris Bueller, Small Sins, The Carnations, Thomas D'Arcy, Tommy Hawkins, What We Want, Why Don't You Believe Me?
In the 1960s the Canadian imprint of Decca, London Records, released a series of The World of … albums: The World of the Zombies, The World of the Rolling Stones, The World of Cat Stevens, etc. Now Poprock Record would like to present The World of Thomas D’Arcy. Why? Because this guy is all over the musical map, in a very good way. From his teenage punky poprock band, the Carnations, to a one album appearance with All Systems Go!, to his one-man, keyboard-based band Small Sins, to a slew a solo material and a recent collaboration with Hawksley Workman in their Tommy Hawkins project, D’Arcy is master of all he turns his talents to. For a host of acts behind the scenes, his studio production credits alone should make him a star. But constant throughout his varied career are the songs: quirky, catchy, usually with a subtle hook that sneaks up and refuses to release its hold.
I saw the Carnations live at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto in the late 1990s, opening for some band I don’t remember. They were a blast of hooky teen exuberance. I bought their debut CD, Superluminal, at the show, which was a good thing as none of their recordings appear to be available digitally. The seven songs owe a debt to the alienated charm of bands like Weezer but the result is still pretty original, with “Bald Avenger” and “Let Me Be Your Ferris Bueller” as stand out tracks. D’Arcy has posted three Carnations videos on his YouTube page which give you some sense of how the band developed over time, with songs like “Scream and Yell” and “I’ve Got Spies” showcasing a more muscular sound on later records. Let Me Be Your Ferris Bueller
Sometime after 2006 I saw D’Arcy’s new vehicle, Small Sins, play a show at a tiny club in Victoria, B.C. and didn’t even make the connection to his work with the Carnations, the sound was so different. Guitars took a backseat to a distinctive synth/keyboard sound, contrasted with taut vocals, particularly on songs like “Why Don’t You Believe Me?”
By 2012 he was just releasing work under his own name, like his spot on supergroup re-recording of the Monks goofy new wave Bad Habits album. Then 2013’s What We Want featured the great keyboard-heavy single, “I Wake Up Everyday” while 2015’s Fooled You Twice had a broader sound, with the single “All Over Your Face” vibing some serious ELO influence.
Then in 2016 he turned in another new direction, working with Hawksley Workman to produce a more earthy, rough-edged EP entitled Amy, credited to Tommy Hawkins. Filed under “Tommy Hawkins” is also where you’ll find a host of rare Thomas D’Arcy material on Soundcloud.