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.
𝘾𝙞𝙧𝙘𝙡𝙚𝙒𝙖𝙡𝙠 - 𝙎𝙖𝙣𝙤 𝙃𝙞𝙡𝙡
Charles welcomes you to Ruby Tuesday…
What a week I have just had. You must permit me to ramble and go to excess this week. Well, I’m going to anyway. Hush, I don’t get paid for this. And advance apologies to Sano Hill for going on. Recently I have been working hard on a production in collaboration with a mystery NAS artist you all know well, but whom shall remain nameless, at least for now. It is going extremely well, but it can go to one’s head, this art thang. It can get a bit much, so one needs breaks from time to time. Monday evening was the first of these breaks. My girlfriend and I felt like watching a horror film. Not terrifying gore-filled heart attack inducing horror, but the old kind. The quaint, amusing Vincent Price kind. And so we sat down to watch The Raven. Yes, The Raven. as in, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven. We contemplated watching it standing up, but thought this to be altogether rather uncomfortable. “While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.” - yes, THIS was what I wanted. Such charm and style in the old way. The film was just as I had hoped for. A break from reality. Something to take my mind away from music - something for which I rarely wish.
The next morn’ I was refreshed and ready for another few days of hard labour. And so I toiled. My mind was troubled though, unable to concentrate fully. My girlfriend had told me some news. Some fun news. She has recently started working in a beautiful old stately home by the name of Kenwood House. It lies in its own grounds surrounded by Hampstead Heath. The Heath is 800 acres (3.2 sq.km) of London’s countryside, only 4 miles (6.4 km) from Trafalgar Square! Basically, my girlfriend is in idyllic surroundings throughout her working hours - lucky thing. As well as being home to works by Rembrandt, Gainsborough, Vermeer, Van Dyck and Reynolds, it also frequently hosts events. One such event was to happen on Thursday of last week. For Wood to be in the presence of Wood. For Ken to envelope Ron. I mentioned some fun news…? Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood was to unveil his latest series of paintings at Kenwood House, and my girlfriend was to be there! Golly golly golly! She was going to see a Rolling Stone! Maybe even meet him…? Well she damned well did. They shook hands, chatted about art, had a photo taken together, and she even got a signed “Hot Lips”! She was also in the presence of George Harrison’s first wife, Pattie Boyd, and even saw a Spice Girl! I was thrilled! I was also deeply envious. I can’t get no… That night she told me all about it. I was more thrilled. I was more envious. She said I should see the paintings, but that they were only on show to the public for a mere 3 days. I decided to take one of my well earned breaks (the first since Monday eve), totter down the road and climb up the hill. I actually left the house again! Get me, I'm like a fully functional human being these days. Being New Music Friday, I thought I’d listen to some old music on my way there. Well, (not too) old and brand new at the same time. An album made in 2009, but released this year. It is by an artist that I have recently discovered through watching the ever-wise, level-headed and informative Rick Beato on YouTube. He spent one entire episode raving about a man called Alan Mearns. You see? Music discovery is everything. It doesn’t have to be whatever is in the charts, backed by billions of dollars. Mearns is an extremely versatile musician, in that I am in love with three of his albums. One is his own classical guitar rendition of pieces by J.S. Bach. The others are under a pseudonym: Yes the Raven. ‘Love is Covered in Dust’ is pretty much just him and a guitar, which I think I can say is one of my favourite acoustic albums of all time. Sheer beauty. While ‘The Airspace Record’ is with the full band. This is what I chose to listen to. A staggering rock album produced by Beato.
Let’s get back to painting it black. I think in my mind I was sort of hoping Ronnie would still be there. Pahahaha! Sure, the multi-millionaire rock god is camping out at Kenwood House for the duration of his exhibition. Well I went anyway. If only to see his paintings and even see the whole house and its wonders. It's all free anyway. Wood’s paintings were genuinely excellent! This might seem condescending, but I always wonder when famous people decide to go into “proper” art. Are they just using their name and their fame? Well, it certainly doesn’t harm, but this man has true talent. The energy and movement is living and dancing across the canvas. He plays the brush well. Always has done. Only a few paintings though, so it didn’t take that long to see them all. On to the main beauty that is the house itself. I felt so spoilt in being allowed to see such treasures encased in almighty architecture. And all for not one penny. I somehow managed to miss out one room, though. Of all rooms, typically the Music Room, would you believe. Lord knows how I managed this, but I did. Thinking it would be nice for my girlfriend and I to go for dinner, I had to while away two and a half hours before the end of her shift. And so I walked. I walked for miles, taking in the entire expanse of the Heath. Yes the Raven had completed its task of satisfying me, as the album came to a close. What to listen to? There were 100,000 songs released only in the last day (not an exaggeration)! It was New Music Friday! I saw the YES of Yes the Raven, and thought of Yes. Yes, the band. Not ‘The Band’. I never really liked ‘The Band’. But the band I am talking about is called Yes. 1973. Could that be considered new…? Well, not quite, but it’s positively futuristic compared with Fred Astaire… Anyway, it was thrilling, and just what I wanted. It suited the mood, somehow, of the fields and the forests. Like an aurora borealis of sound. So there I was, not so much a rolling stone as a meandering pebble. A lot, and a little in my mind. But still, I found myself thinking about our dear Ronnie. Ah well. You can’t always get what you want. Eventually, I headed back to the grand old house to meet my girlfriend. Ugh: rain. Gimme shelter! Having sought refuge from the fresh drizzle under Kenwood’s elegant awning, I waited for her arrival. She sent me an urgent message. Ugh. Is she held back longer? Will I be venturing a third album by Yes? No. “Ronnie Wood is in the orangery”, read the message. Not the sort of message you might receive from any sane person at any ordinary time. But this was not any ordinary time. Her sanity though is perhaps debatable and maybe even relatable. You know what these honky tonk women are like… I pegged it to the other side of the building. Didn’t even bother to reply. I gasped. I smiled like I have rarely smiled before. Like a crazy person, probably. Ronnie Wood is here!!! I can barely believe it! Jealousy, get off of my cloud, I won’t be needing YOU anymore. Myself and very few others were in the presence of a rock god. After a few photos being taken with the star, he was suddenly almost alone. In a stony silence, he was staring at me. Smiling like a normal person. With his archetypal thick black hair, he looked much like a cartoon of a happy crow. Or, dare I say; a raven. It was at this moment that I took the opportunity to impose. I shook the hand of Ronnie Wood!!! We chatted about his art and joked briefly before I decided it was time to let him go. What an absolute thrill it all was!!
I thought my mum might enjoy these paintings, and could even make a mini day-day out of the whole thing. So, being mother’s little helper, I told her about the show and emphasised the brevity of the exhibition. She tottered up on Sunday. And get this: she met Ronnie Wood.
Art really is all around us. In all ways. It punctures our bubble so relentlessly with its beak that we are left naked, and therefore able to give in to such exciting beauty with willingness and ease. It is with this in mind, that I bring you my weekly gift. Each and every week I listen to so much new music to work out who deserves a plot in my Corner. The decision gets harder as the standard rises. This week I had I think my 19th nervous breakdown in trying to decide. I wanted to replace coronary heart failure with Connolly’s Cornerary Art success! Charles, that was just terrible. Sorry. As my “maybe” list gets longer and longer, I noticed one name coming up again and again. So as not to waste any time - “you’ve wasted enough of my time already, and haven’t even got on to the artist yet!” - I know. And for that, I am sorry. Sano more. I hope you had a pleasant journey though. We have arrived at our destination. Sano Hill.
Sano Hill (a member of the New Artist Spotlight since June) is a one-man show. Ireland’s Seán Crosson (and please, no pastry jokes) is behind all that is Sano Hill. And when I say “all”, there’s a lot for one man to be doing. Having made my choice of artist, it was difficult to pick which song, because they’re all so good. Having released 4 singles so far, I really could have picked any one of them, but eventually I went with CircleWalk, what with all my previous rambling. Released at the end of July, CircleWalk starts with immediacy. Upbeat drums to the fore, yet all with a certain nonchalance that grooves with a sideways flick of the head. The bass is clean and full of pep as it strides like a leggy lady, high on heels. The acoustic guitars ground the rhythm and the pulse, setting the song into motion. Then comes Seán’s fabulous entrance on vocals. He owns the stage like a persuasive flirt. Strangely enough, there is a somewhat European accent in his singing, despite being from Ireland (yes, I know that's in Europe, but you know what I mean). Maybe only I hear this accent, in which case ignore me. I think it's the subtle rolling of his Rs (no bottom jokes). I can’t help but shimmy like an embarrassing dad throughout the song. Chorus time!! Managing to be both tight and loose, the song welcomes 60s-style female backing singers, a horn section, a tight and choppy electric guitar and an energetic tambourine. It’s exquisite! The song is funky, soulful, and lies not in one decade but in several. There are occasionally moments of Mick Jagger in Seán’s vocals, but when he really goes for it there’s more of a Bono sound in his vocal cords. His natural register is quite high for a man, and he uses this to great effect. Because of this, there is no strain in his voice; only subtle power. I can really feel the passion in his voice as he throws it like a paper ball. It’ll hit you but it won’t hurt.
His first single, The Climb, really made an impact and pricked the ears of eager listeners, with its thicker, darker atmosphere. A fabulous completion in its catchy chorus. A rough and ready breakdown with true U2 influence (when they were in their prime). His second single showed a lighter side with brighter positivity in Starting Over. A great feel-good song to get you over the sadder times. CircleWalk was his third single, with a fourth being the current release: Sing Out Loud. With its triumphant courage, it has perhaps the most confidence of all his singles so far. I very nearly chose this one as my favourite, but those horns in CircleWalk really got me in the end. I so rarely mention an artist’s back catalogue, but normally either the catalogue is too long to cover, or some is not to my taste. Sano Hill breaks those barriers so effortlessly, and I can wholeheartedly call myself a fan.
With an album on the way, it’s sure to be a corker.
I know it’s only rock ’n’ roll, but I like it.
How about YOUR week? Did you do Ron Ron Ron, a-doo Ron Ron? Quoth the Raven “Nevermore”.
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