Welcome all to 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗹𝘆’𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗿, a series of weekly reviews by Charles Connolly - an artist in his own right. Here, Charles delves into the greatest brand new singles brought to you by the best unsigned artists on our electrifying and eclectic set of 𝙉𝙚𝙬 𝘼𝙧𝙩𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙎𝙥𝙤𝙩𝙡𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 playlists.
CC travels to the US. OMG…
I wave goodbye for now, to my reliably unreliable land of Eng, to sail across the Atlantic with a view of hope. A horse is there to meet and greet me at the East Coast. Funny place to find a horse, but there you go. Her name is Old Faithfull. She insists on first name terms however. All right, then: Marianne, it is. We chat for quite a time about this and also that. I say “chat” - she ain’t much of a talker. And so my external monologue begins. Poor mare. So here we are, in the Ewe Ess of Aye, with a long way to go. It got me pondering out loud to this trotter without a choice. America. What a land. What a place, with such a lot of history within such a relatively short time. Of course, I am already prepared with stiff leather Stetson and boots, complete with sharp, shiny shpurs - Marianne is all too aware of their close proximity, hence being particularly well behaved…
Let’s face it, those not from the Ewe Ess of Aye have gathered most of their American knowledge “thru” Hollywood. Hollywood is frankly what makes America American. Okay, and baseball. Okay and a few other things. But let’s not rush ahead - we’ve got a long way to go… To me, America is the land of the old days. Not the ancient days, but the days when days were not in “color” but in black and white. Unlike most of the rest of the Western world, America cherishes its tiny past. It keeps hold of little things like green one dollar bills. It is proud of almost everything that came before. Of course, I might be entirely wrong about this - this is just my vision. Take Sinatra, for example. The coolest man in town, right? Al Capone? Despite them both having been pretty vicious (one probably, one definitely), they are hailed like past presidents. And speaking of presidents, why do we all know past US presidents more than our own leaders of old? Why is America the “center” of our world? What is it that makes America have this Hollywood sparkle and appeal…? Well it all comes back to Sinatra. The coolest man in town. And it doesn’t stop at this crooner. Who is the TRULY coolest man in the world? Well obviously none other than Clint. He has a surname, but does not need one. Much like Elvis. Forename is enough. In fact, a fake laugh is enough to realise who you’re talking about - Uh-huh-huh. Add to it a lip curl, and you’re really in no doubt. These icons are a symbol. Like the Marlboro Man. Like the Hollywood sign. Like Marilyn’s white dress. Which Marilyn? Oh don’t be silly. Hollywood is the REAL American Constitution, let’s face it. I seem to face a lot these days. And then there’s Trump……… Moving swiftly on, our neighsayer is trying to tell us something - Marianne whinnies apprehensively while staring at those spurs of mine. She’s hungry. She timed it well - we are just coming up to a “ride-thru” McDonald’s. Yup. They exist. Well, they do in my fantasy world, anyway. Here we have yet another symbol of the Ewe Ess. Fast food, in the guise of the Golden Arches. I do hope this isn’t one of those desert mirages we’ve seen in oh-so many Hollywood “movies”. You know, where the man bites down on a juicy burger, only to realise he has a mouthful of sand… Nope, it’s real. And this is just about the only time that America allows something foreign: French fries. Quite astounding they aren’t called American fries. Two Big Macs later, I toss the cashier a quarter (it’s cheap out here in the middle of nowhere). The coin freezes in mid-air, and we revolve around it, Matrix style. The sun glinting off its “aluminum” shine makes the writing more crisp as the camera zooms fast with a brief blur. Liberty: In God We Trust. Wise words for a humble quarter! But would you expect any less from Mr. Washington…? Marianne blows those floppy lips of hers with a ripple that only I know means she is still hungry. “Let’s go get ice cream”. Now how many old films have I seen with that line??
Which brings us to the negative side of America’s fame. There are the less important things, like fatness. Whether it be true or not, Americans are famous for being fat. One only has to look at Elvis to see how he slumped from God-like in the 50s, to blob-like in the 70s. It is an unfortunate thing to be famous for, but with all the sparkle and shine of this fabulous land, it can be utterly forgiven and forgotten. What can’t be forgiven though, in this land of opportunity, is the real bad stuff. Despite people of “color” (as we used to say) officially being welcomed to the country and being a huge part of their heritage, we have huge racial violence there. And despite having an exhausting childhood of fun playing Cowboys and Engines (now called Native Americans), they are evidently not bored of playing with guns. And the gangsters are not just shadows of the silver screen, but very much around today. Sometimes though, something catastrophic happens which is truly not their own fault in the slightest: a true tragedy. This came in the form of what we all call “9/11”. More than two decades on, this is still one of the most famous tragedies throughout the world. Almost everyone was hit by it. Not so much because of the incident itself, but because most of us in the world have such a great fondness and adoration of America. Our American Dream was broken. Luckily though, this only made America stronger and more patriotic. And I think the world felt the same. This terrible blow of carnage is not what we think of when we think of America. Its Hollywood glow is restored and Mama Cass sings on with gusto. Cary Grant and Clooney keep our minds off all the bad, so we can concentrate on our good old fashioned American dream. Or mirage… Marianne has her blinkers on… In God We Hope…?
Let’s get into the jingles and jangles of American music. Despite most of my absolute music idols being British, more and more do I realise the extent of my musical love for Americans. Hendrix, Elvis, Simon and Garfunkel, Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers (until around 2002), Eminem, Dr. Dre, Queens of the Stone Age, Jeff Buckley, and anything by Jack White except the White Stripes, which to me was always lacking in bass, what with the lack of a bassist. Modern pop acts like Lauv (until the new album - which is cack), Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, and even Charlie Puth have a place in my heart. There really are countless stunning American acts, so this is just a smattering of what I listen to. There is no doubt that America has influenced music throughout the world. That big "American" sound. One only has to look at modern British rock bands like Royal Blood and White Lies to realise where it all came from. But what of SOUTH America…? I think much of the world forgets that this too is America. America of a different sort. Most of us probably think of cigars and corruption, but it isn’t all bad. Not remotely. Particularly if we continue going south…
No, further. Deeper. Getting there. Almost… That’s the place. Argentina. An extremely large land famous for little more than a taste for Spanish dance, excellent food and good wine. So finish that beef. Don’t worry, we are not going to tango so you need not know the steps - you can take your glass with you (you might need it). Welcome to the land of South American rock, would you please give a big hand to Argentina’s Arnoldo’s Lizards! Finland’s Willjoy peeks his head around the barn door to say hi too! Despite the band releasing an album last year (also reviewed here on 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗹𝘆’𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗿), American Dream is actually their first standalone single! The Lizards (as I call them) are now at most a five-piece band, but their music is predominantly the work of Jack Dimensions with the voice of Alvare Goco. Their sound is like taking the best of Ewe Ess rock/pop and making it their own. This is achieved by Jack’s penchant for Prog music. It is in his veins. That and the fabulously confident melodies from the lips of Alvare. The Lizards laugh in the face of the word “introduction” - just GO!! And in doing just that, the song powers through, all guns blazing. That first match struck on beat one is blown to smoke by beat two as fast unison octaves bring together the voices of Alvare and guest-star Willjoy. It’s scintillating! The guitar riff digs in like a thumbnail drawing blood. I can’t quite explain the sound, but it’s kind of like Radiohead at their rockiest, with the intrigue, darkness and dissonance of Interpol. Maybe even some Arctic Monkeys thrown in!
Okay, so that kind of WAS an intro, but not just the usual build of instruments, followed by drums, followed by lead vocals. There is NOTHING samey about this piece. A definite “verse one” is here now. Willjoy falls to the couch for now as Alvare grabs the mic. The sound is more like Blondie, Maxïmo Park, Bloc Party and a little known English band: The Duke Spirit. But there is also a more POP sound slightly reminiscent of Blink-182, Sum 41, The Offspring, Green Day, and even Avril Lavigne…! The difference being that I love this. Although a fan of Blondie, Maxïmo Park, Bloc Party and The Duke Spirit, I cannot say the same for those other artists. Arnoldo’s Lizards take the bits of good and replace the meh with YEH! The falsetto prog-like backing vocals start to shine through before all the voices congeal as one. Willjoy is the gelatine to the jam - a much needed thickener. Little over one minute into the piece, the band takes a breather and the analogue synths take centre stage. One grounding the pulse in the form of an arpeggiator, the other swooping like an inquisitive eagle. The odd strummed guitar chord complete with swelling cymbals mark the greatness and power of their efforts. But not before long, the fit band is raring to get back into the swing of things. Cue that snare fill as we pound back into gear! Everyone is together; each member feeding off the energy of the next. The melody rises to glorious heights and I am spiralling with glee. While the singers take a slug of Argentina’s favourite drink, Yerba Maté, for a little extra pep in their step, the guitar takes the lead for an evidently crafted solo - this is a “no widdling” zone.
But what then…? With those roots truly grounded in prog, I certainly wouldn’t expect anything “normal” to occur. But electronic hip-hop/trap beats and heavily autotuned vocals were NOT was I was expecting to hear anywhere in this song!! No, I am not pulling your leg. And it really shouldn’t work. But guess what: it does. Jack and his band are professionals. They know what they’re doing. Classic Jack then brings us back into the rock with a purposely jarring bar of three - oh, you cheeky Lizards! They then relentlessly power through to the end. And who was at the helm of this fabulous mix…? Why, none other than the New Artist Spotlight’s very own favourite Argentinian, Mr. Andres Guazzelli, of course! He is like family to The Lizards. And it’s no wonder: aside from being a lovely bloke, his talents are exceptional.
It’s like an old classic Western, where Arnoldo’s Lizards are Clint, and their gun-toting competition was too scared to even show up. Their opponent knew they’d be blown to smithereens within seconds. This land of opportunity was up for the taking, and they took it for all it was worth. All those swags of loot with dollar signs on them. Lucky Strike? I think not.
In the slurred words of our military man, the Colonel’s boy, the king of rock ’n’ roll himself: “Thank you very much, Uh-huh-huh”.
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