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.
𝙄𝙛 𝙊𝙣𝙡𝙮 - 𝙅.𝙃.𝙈
Charles does an embarrassing little dance…
An old school chum of mine used to pronounce the word “Only” as “O'ly”. For 20 years he thought it was a silent ’N’. I never found out why, and I only recently stopped laughing about it. To thi'k of him pro'ou'cing this word wro'g si'ce we were childre'… I just thought you should k'ow.
I suspect that other than my parents and my girlfriend, all my readers are musicians of some sort or other. And so, I will be - perhaps for a change - actually talking about music. Why? Well, if only to mark my 150th Connolly’s Corner review, that’s why. I cannot quite believe it has been this many. Particularly as my “reviews” are quite a bit more than “nice song, good beat, you should check it out”. It has become a weekly column for pretty much an unbroken 3 years. I know many of you enjoy reading it and even look forward to it - which delights me more than you might imagine. I am also aware that many of you couldn’t give two hoots about it, and simply feel obliged to vaguely scan through and impatiently scroll until you get to the bit about the song. “Eventually this self-obsessed bore actually got to the review - it is supposed to be a REVIEW, ya know” - yes, well those ones might have missed the point that it is frankly dull to read about someone’s thoughts on one particular song. Hence nice song good beat check it out. Anyway, THIS is for those who care. Those sweetest devoted fans of Connolly’s Corner. You know who you are. I promised you music talk. Let’s talk music. Well, I’ll talk. You listen.
Why do we do this music making lark? Why do we put so much time, effort and money into releasing our music? Could we not just be content with strumming an acoustic guitar at home? Plinking also plonking the ivories (if you're allowed to even use that word these days)? Perhaps you're a beat maker, or you have an obsession with building and tinkering with your own synthesisers? If only as a form of relaxation? Ah, but it's not ONLY this, is it. You want more. You want to make something of this hobby. You want a product. Something you can call complete. Your own. If only so you have something to show for your efforts. But it isn't ONLY this, is it. You want to make people feel the way you feel when you listen to it. You want to bring them that very same joy, thrill or emotion you feel when you press play. If only to share one's thoughts and connect with others. But still, it isn't ONLY this, is it. No matter how humble, modest or private you are, you do like praise, don't you. Yes, you do. You know you do. Don't deny it. So, if only for the acknowledgement and respect from your peers and fellow talentia. But it STILL isn't ONLY this, is it...
Queen put it well: “I Want It All”. For most of us, there is an ultimate goal in sight. A golden goal. However unlikely or even impossible it might seem, we truck on. Because there really is nothing to lose. Well, there is. There’s time, there’s money, there’s time, there’s mental stability, there’s time, there’s a good relationship with your partner, family and friends, there’s time, there’s sleep, there’s lunch, but above all, there’s time. If only we could pause time. We often talk about the struggles of trying to fit in music around our “day-job”, but the more involved we become in music, the more it is like fitting our “day-job” around our music. And frankly, providing you CAN, I don’t see this as a bad thing. Just don't tell your boss. This golden goal of which I spake, is the idea of “making it” in the music industry. If only in a small way. Just a little dent will do. The thrill one gets (I am told) when one’s own song hits even in a tiny way. Well, I can’t imagine. But I WOULD imagine a little dance to occur. The kind that is far too embarrassing for social media. In fact, it is possible for this embarrassing little dance to be the very thing that makes a song popular. I do a silly little dance, pop the song in the background, it goes viral, et voilà - top of the charts. Stupid world. Anyway! You might be making music for a different reason. I personally do it because I can’t not. And all of the above. You may do it for the feels, for the likes, for the claps or for the prospect of fame and money. We are artists. We will therefore never be content. There is no end, really. No FINAL goal. Simply the next. Absolute contentment is a bad thing for artists, because it halts art. I believe in forever striving. Not greed, not obsession, but creation. And human creation must never cease (that is, creation by humans, rather than creation OF humans: popping out screaming blobs).
You have no doubt seen the artwork of this week’s review and read whom it is that I am going to talk about. But some of you might be wondering why I would “advertise” someone who perhaps needs no introduction or even attention - as he is basically famous in the New Artist Spotlight. Well, I can’t only concentrate on relatively unknown artists. Because some things are just too huge and too good to ignore. Besides, does Harry Potter need advertising? Does Apple need advertising? Do Coca Cola, Google and McDonald’s need advertising? No, no and no. And yet, it is everywhere, always. Perhaps the very reason they are universally known and never leave one’s consciousness. The point is, some things are big for a reason. That reason being, they are bloody brilliant. Some. Canada's own J.H.M is one of those things. And I simply cannot ignore that. Also, if we leave the big dogs behind, we might only be left with puppies. Please welcome J.H.M (big dog by name, puppy by nature) with his latest song, If Only. Surprisingly I have only reviewed him twice before, and one of those was sung by Ed Eagle (the founder of the feast). I think the main reason I haven’t reviewed him since his smash hit, Into The Wilderness, is because he set the bar SO high, that I always had to go by that level or standard for his personal potential. Basically, it’s his own fault, and I’m a harsh bastard. J.H.M stands for Jeff His Majesty. It doesn’t actually. But it should. For I believe him to be a king of the NAS nation. Or NASion. He seems to be one of the few universally loved artists, in terms of his music, his character and his personality. I say “one of the few” because we all have different taste, not because the NAS is a collective of untalented horribilia! Quite the opposite. But for example, someone who doesn’t really go for techno is probably not going to enjoy a techno artist in the community. But weirdly, Jeff transcends all that. Someone who doesn’t particularly go for pop/rock, probably really enjoys Jeff’s music. I’m not quite sure how he does this, but he does. I don’t mean “appreciate”, I mean ENJOY!
The thing is, this time round, Jeff has released what to my ears is his very best since Into The Wilderness. It could even be better, but since Into The Wilderness is as famous and familiar to us NASians as Hey Jude, it is impossible to work out. Unlike Into The Wilderness however, I did not mix it. After having listened on my “special” earphones - the ones that show up ALL imperfections - all I could hear were perfections. It sounds stunning. Was it therefore mixed by the great Andres Guazzelli? Or the splendid Braddon Williams? Or perhaps Jeff perused the world of SoundBetter if feeling pennily well-off, or maybe Fiverr if pennily sunk? Well I’ll tell you. He mixed it himself. In fact, he did absolutely everything himself. I remember going to a Music Producers Guild awards ceremony once (that was when I met Steve Winwood and made an absolute prat out of myself). Despite producers and engineers like Bernard Butler, Cenzo Townshend, Paul Epworth, Brian Eno and even Calvin Harris being there, the Best Album went to Elbow for The Seldom Seen Kid. This made an uncomfortable impression on the crowd, as the band had produced and mixed it themselves. The host made a joke: “If all artists take after Elbow, we’ll all be out of a job!” - the laughter was undercut by an inaudible ripple of nerves. Basically, J.H.M has indeed taken after Elbow in this respect, and I truly admire and respect him for having done so. Thankfully, his talents are rare - Charles smiles before quickly drowning said smile in a large tumbler of whiskey. Ah, that’s better.
So, the song! Ah heck, just listen to it. It’s fantastic. Need I say more? I could talk about the drums sounding uncannily like those played by the late, great Charlie Watts (of Rolling Stones fame, should you have wondered). I could mention the crisp, wide acoustic guitars slamming with delicacy. I could talk about how Jeff’s vocal confidence has gone from strength to strength. I could even mention the influences (conscious or not) of the Pet Shop Boys, Keane, Two Door Cinema Club, U2 and Coldplay, but how ultimately this is the quintessential sound of J.H.M. But why mention any of this when you can hear it all for yourself. It’s not like we’re in the Soviet era and I have to secretly describe Western pop music to you. We all have the music, and you only have to tap the link below. If only for your own enjoyment.
I will speak about one thing though. Fading out. Hopefully none of us will “fade out”, but that wasn’t quite what I meant. ‘If Only’ fades out at the end. Who fades out these days?? In music, there is something so classic about a fade out. Something somehow professional and cool. It used to be considered naff, simply because there was a time when almost every song faded out. It became the done thing. Then it became a cliché - hence it becoming naff. So rather suddenly people stopped doing it. But now, it is so damned rare, that it is perhaps considered a novelty to do so. You see, like fashion, one can be so out of fashion they become the height of fashion. Because everything goes around in circles. Very little is new. It’s more like the refreshing of a Christmas tradition. The same, but with a new bauble. I was one of the first men in London to wear skinny jeans (the term "skinny" - in relation to jeans - had not yet been coined), at a time when they were not even available to buy. The older people thought of it as a retro look perhaps emulating the tight trousers of the 60s, or the punks of the 70s. The younger ones thought I was either gay or weird. So woefully out of fashion. That is, until the look crept in and took over the entire city. Then I was apparently the height of cool. As soon as I was in fashion though, I changed my style. I can’t stand to look like I’m following a trend. But neither was I attempting to SET a trend. And also neither am I saying I started this trend! I simply got there first. Or, was decades late on the uptake. You choose. So! Jeff’s fade could start a new fashion for fade-outs! If other artists DON’T follow Jeff’s trend, it is less a fade, more his very own fad. And yes, I wrote an entire paragraph about a fade-out. If only because I can, and because I do this kind of thing. I have 149 other “reviews” to prove it.
Is Connolly’s Corner now known throughout the World? Amazingly, YES!! Is it read by millions…? Oh, if o'ly.
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