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.
𝘽𝙡𝙖𝙘𝙠 𝙎𝙖𝙡𝙖𝙙 - 𝙆𝙖𝙢𝙞𝙣𝙨𝙠𝙞
Charles is sick of regurgitation…
You’d probably think I would be far too exhausted to write an article this week, what with having been crowned (or "coronated", if you wish) just a few days ago. But I have commitments, and they must be fulfilled. I am not however going to be talking about my Coronation or anything to do with the extended celebration weekend. A glorious time was had by (almost) all, but we must now get back to work - if reluctantly. God Save the King!
There is however another famous Englishman who is altogether rather different in, well, all ways. He has a scruffy Beatle haircut, almost obscuring his bright little blue eyes. He is obscenely rich. Lots of people love him and lots of people hate him. He has been seen a lot lately in a dark suit and tie. And no, I am not speaking of Boris Johnson. I am talking about a musician. But like Boris Johnson, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Brian May, Adele, The Spice Girls and Harry Styles, this musician was also NOT a part of the Coronation Concert. Sorry, I said I wouldn’t mention the Coronation. This musician had a big court case against the Marvin Gaye estate. Yes, that’s right, folks. I’m talking about Ed Sheeran. This peculiar looking gingerbread man released a single nearly a decade ago, and only now (apparently) do people start to slowly realise that it is identical to Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On. I thought exactly this as soon as I heard it, all the way back in 2014, and therefore instantly dismissed him as a fraud who luckily and strangely got away with it. The whole case seemed very much suspicious to me. Almost like a set-up. The court case arose just before the release of his fifth solo album. And on the dawn of its release, Sheeran made a rather bold statement: “If I lose this court case, I will quit music and retire”. Well! Maybe he was just Thinking Out Loud, but I couldn’t ever imagine a TRUE artist “quitting”. Artists can’t stop. It is like breathing. So what happened…? He won. What a surprise. Would he really have made such a statement if there were to be any chance of him NOT winning? It is doubtful. Was this the first court case of its kind? Nope. Was this the first court case that Ed Sheeran had been involved in? Absolutely not! Because he and his writers seemingly listen to hits of the past and “recreate” them in such a way that is just about plausible to get away with. Some call it coincidence. Many call it influence or “homage”. Others call it inevitable. When it’s THIS similar though, I call it theft. Of course, this could be argued until the end of time, and I am not about to do that. Ain’t nobody got time for dat!
But aside from theft, I call it laziness. This is not art; this is business. This is clever craft, in order to make money. I find so much music lazy these days. I suppose I am mainly talking about pop, rather than all music. But to an extent, I find this in most genres. Things blend together and very few stand out. I am not so much talking about quality here, but about bother. A willingness to step outside the box. A want or need to be different. If you go through the decades from the 60s onwards, you will see how each major artist was entirely different to the next. And no other major artist was interested in making anything similar, because what would be the point? This perfect sense continued decade after decade, until the 10s. The 2010s, that is. Which interestingly coincided with the implosion of the music industry. This court case is one of so many. It is all too familiar. And it could all be avoided so easily if so-called “artists” would just stop copying! You see, to me, there is one major thing missing from most music these days. Originality.
It seems as though perfection is now more important than new excitement. The sound, the playing, the singing, the programming: it’s all so perfect these days - not necessarily a bad thing, by any means. But the writing and production are on the whole, frankly lamentable. Wholly predictable, generic and dull. And it thoroughly bores me. This is much less the case with unsigned music, but even then there is a problem. Artists have idols, as they always have done. But if the music you strive for is plastic and pointless in the first place, it is unlikely to inspire. The industry seems to have forced out originality and encouraged a copycat world. I think one of the problems might be that musical artists are thinking too much. They are thinking about what the world would like to hear, and then attempting to craft that thing. It’s all the wrong way around. Be your brilliant, naturally unique self, and the audience’s ears will prick up and pay attention. I am not suggesting that everyone should become free-jazz artists with weirdness and harsh dissonance - although there’s nothing wrong with that, if that is what comes naturally - but what we desperately need is newness and freshness. I can’t do another decade of 3 or 4 chords repeating for 3 minutes, again and again and again. And that same way of singing that same old melody. All this does however prove that it is not actually that easy to write a song. A great, original song. In fact, it is very difficult, and few can do it.
Occasionally though, one such talent may come into view, and it is up to me to make sure they don’t slip through the net. Permit me to introduce to you one of the latest additions to the New Artist Spotlight: here’s Kaminski with his latest single, Black Salad. This is the best and most original song I have heard in a long while. So much so, that it is truly difficult to describe. And yet this is so far away from dissonant or “weird”. Let’s first talk about the man behind the magic. Despite the music very much sounding like a tight band, this is all just one man. Derek Kuipers writes, produces, sings, plays and programs everything himself. Now, you all know I am a fan of this solo endeavour - for that is exactly what I do. And what quite a few others do. But rarely is the final product THIS good. Having released his debut album in September last year, he is evidently far from creatively spent. This is what true artists are: relentless creators. In Slootdorp, the Netherlands, Kuipers was hit bad by COVID in the pandemic era. In being bed-bound, fever-ridden and unable to leave the house (like the rest of us at the time), this artist felt the urge to start making music. I know a lot of us did precisely that, but for Derek this was a particularly mentally gruelling time. Like many artists, he needed a muse. His muse was his past. His thoughts and feelings of oh-so many decades. The silent hoarding of dark dreams had filled his mind to brimming with bitter suffering. It was time for him to drain the past and splash cold water on his tired face. It was time to live again. ‘My Diary Lied’ - his debut album - was born of this.
But already, he is back with something so refreshing, so new, so full of just EVERYTHING I cannot describe. It is as if Thom Yorke (Radiohead), Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters), Kevin Parker (Tame Impala), Guy Garvey (Elbow), Everything Everything, Metronomy, Beck, White Lies, Yes the Raven, C. Duncan and Interpol all entered the kitchen at the same time to complete this recipe together, with the sensibility and sensitivity of producers Brian Eno and Nigel Godrich at the helm, wearing tall chef’s toques. But what they ended up with was barely recognisable as having been made by any of its makers. The assertiveness of Derek’s drums are compelling throughout, with thick hi-hats (more chef’s toques) and soft open snares which somehow bare the honesty and rawness of this painful wound. In fact, each instrument has such assertiveness, making his assertion that much more believable. And yet, the song is somehow soft, warm and sort of mellow. It’s like kicking a cushion: no matter how hard you kick it, you won’t ever get much more than a muffled thud out of it. This is the lushest of sounds with a voice that is like blending Chris Martin (at his most heartbreaking and fragile) with Nat King Cole (at his fondest and most endearing). Don’t ask. It all just makes me want to hug myself in solitary safety. The music will be my guard from the cold harshness of everything that is wrong. And as soon as it ends, I press play again. I want this permanently playing. My new soundtrack to life. There is really no reason to stop it. And yet I am pleased it is kept short, at a little over 3 minutes. This way, it will fill the briefest moment, but if you want more, you only have to press play again, or find another stunner from Kaminski - for there are more. I am rarely this excited about a new artist I have just discovered. Play Black Salad loud and let it wash over you like viscous, warm water. It is a flawless original masterpiece, and therefore will not run the risk of any such court case.
Watch out Sweden. Watch out Britain. Watch out Canada. It’s all Dutch to me now.
Would anyone have really given the slightest damn if Ed Sheeran had quit music? I was all ready to cheer and wave my Union Jack!
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