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.
𝙇𝙤𝙣𝙙𝙤𝙣 𝙐𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙧𝙜𝙧𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙙 - 𝙎𝙦𝙪𝙖𝙧𝙚 𝘿𝙖𝙣𝙘𝙚 𝘾𝙖𝙡𝙡𝙚𝙧
Charles minds the gap…
Tickets please! We’re going DOWN. Next stop: anywhere you please. I’m fumbling for my card as I’m barged from behind. This sea of dissimilar creatures snaking through the automatic barriers at ground level, in a rush to be elsewhere. Anywhere but here. Please hold the handrail, as you slowly descend into the hot, airless atmosphere of underneath. That unmistakable smell of speedy machinery on wheels. That frequent cyclone that makes your jacket flap. Your plastic bags ruffle and ripple with excitement as you squint and hold on to your hat. It’s all happening here.
A busker stands in his allotted corner, for no seat has been supplied, brought or laid on. He croons, sometimes badly, sometimes well. But usually loudly. It echoes down the cylindrical corridors. Yet people pass him by as if he is not there. Poor chap. But it’s sort of understandable. The London Underground is not a land of leisure. It is not somewhere to saunter and take in the scenery. It is a means of transportation. It is also the oldest of its kind in the entire world, dating back to 1863. Yet 160 years later, it is not only far from defunct, but has become the ultimate way to get around this vast city. Ever-expanding, in fact. But is it just simply a mode of transport? It never ceases to amaze me, how one can pop down at one end and come up at the other within minutes. Like a mole. Some people love it, some people hate it, but most are indifferent. It is however a very important side to London. The Tube. The idea of travelling miles at great speed, over (or under) whole districts that you never even glimpse. It is SO different to taking a bus. A bus makes simple sense. You see your route. You see everything. But the tube? You see nothing. As if by magic, you simply arrive. It gives you the sense that London is not actually that big, because you don’t see the journey, and because it is all so quick. But you really do have a journey. An experience.
Are you the type to take your time on the right hand side of the escalator? Or are you more the daring dasher on the left? Do you amble through the winding passages beneath, or do you chase the wind in the hope of not having to wait a whole 2-3 minutes for the next carriage to arrive? It seems a natural thing to put on one’s rushing cap when using the Underground, but really the journey itself is so fast, that surely this is the only place you need not rush… You don’t see people rushing for the bus (unless you see it coming), despite the wait for the next one often being 20 minutes, and despite the high possibility of being caught in the rain. Yet the energy of the Tube seems to bleed into your own veins. It gives you motivation. It gives you adrenaline. It also gives you tinnitus - it’s bloody loud. And when you finally step onto the train itself, there is a sigh of accomplishment. Phew! STAND CLEAR OF THE CLOSING DOORS. They slide shut with force, and you know there is no going back. When you find a seat (IF you find a seat), you gaze. You zone out. You become one of THEM. The people of the Underground. The travellers. All going somewhere, almost certainly somewhere else. Most will stare at their phone - which is weird because there is no reception down there (yes, yes, I know there is on the platforms). So you put the phone away. But where do you look? Well, you usually start with the adverts. There are only so many times one can read about children’s vitamin pills made by Vitabollocks (or something). And I am really not interested in taking a course at the Open University. So. We move on. Shoes. We can stare at people’s shoes. We can wonder how that person isn’t sweating in their expensive Canada Goose jacket. We can wonder if that man is her father or her partner. We can quickly flick back to Vitabollocks because the fartner caught you mentally prying. Then you can look left and briefly fall in love with a tattooed Camden girl. Oh, she left. She got out at Camden Town. How predictable. Don’t like her anymore. And we move on. Then as the train hurtles down the tunnel towards the next station (closed until June 2024 due to pointless multi-million pound renovation), you realise “Ah crap, EYE was supposed to get off at Camden”. Balls. ALL CHANGE!
After having changed (I preferred my old self), I remain down under for Melbourne-based band, Square Dance Caller. This band is not raved about, and I have in fact never heard anyone talk about them. I frankly do not know why. I can only assume it is because most of you are not aware of their existence. Hence the very reason for my job in this very Corner. To praise the talented old-timers, and to share with you the unknown goodies I find on my travels. To bring the underground to the surface, where they belong. Their latest single, London Underground, hit me like a Stop sign. I was held at a red light, but needed no apology for there was no inconvenience caused. My search was over. I had found my track of the week. Brendan and Michael Etherington are not only biological brothers but brothers in music, for they write all of their songs together as a duo. This is evidently what forms the crux of everything that is Square Dance Caller (SDC from now on). It is the songs that stand out. But this doesn’t for a second dismiss or derail the rest of everything the band has to offer. What is a train with no track? Hence the vital need for Mat Hooler on keyboards, and James Manning on bass to complete the quartet. This band is evidently not just a homemade handcar. This is a fully electrified locomotive kitted out with buttoned leather seats to last a lifetime. And we’re sitting in first class. Basically, they are evidently taking things seriously. It’s the only way to make it.
Having already proved popular throughout Europe and America, they are due to be going on tour in the UK this September - very soon indeed! And very far for them to travel. This kind of commitment can only come from believing in oneself and putting just EVERYthing into it. Would YOU travel to the other side of the world to prove your worth and give those foreign fans what they crave? Few would. The Tube may be expanding at an amazing rate, but it has yet to be ocean-bound. This tour rather excites me, actually. As though I have been chosen. You see, SDC has something special in their sound. Something professional and oh-so cool. And yes, I am talking about their entire back catalogue - for I am a fan. But let us look at just this new single, so that you have an idea of what they’re capable of. London Underground has Verve-like swagger. It has the cool of Oasis at their, well, coolest. But their sound is not stuck in the tunnel of the mid to late 90s. It is stuck in the now. Or rather, it isn’t stuck at all! We depart with a mellow synth arpeggio that reminds me somewhat of one of my favourite electronic/dance producers, Madeon. The sound is warm and lo-fi, but this is nothing close to the drifty cloud sound of much lo-fi music. It is more like the shovel that force-feeds the engine with coal, before the weight of that beast gets going. And it sure gets going, with tangy rolling snares. I don’t imagine a single one of you managed NOT to nod your head to this loose swing-ed beat. There is a whiff of the Stereo MC’s to their vibe. The tightly plucked guitar and bass create a mesmeric and almost psychedelic tinge to the feel, while simultaneously locking down the tempo with precision. The ”oohs” enter, using the same magic that Chris Martin possesses with a little help from his sachet of reverb, sprinkled liberally.
You know that whole “less is more” thang? Well, the verse drops the synth as the vocals take over. Miraculously, there is more impact once that instrument is removed. It lets the guitars breathe. It allows the vocals to soar. And soar they do, with fabulous melodies! The writing of the pre-chorus is pure Noel Gallagher, without managing to sound like a single one of those gems written by the humorous, rich, arrogant thug himself. This is a brand new gem of their own they can comfortably flog to the masses. It is however the chorus that will get you moving that shaker like a bitch. Imagine the Stone Roses had a child with the Charlatans. Or maybe the Sneaker Pimps. And you WILL be singing along. But yet again, it is somehow of NOW, not of THEN. After a moment of Doors-tinted gorgeousness, we slip into verse two. The song swirls around and around like London’s Circle line, yet lyrically takes the Northern line to Camden Town, and even to a pub I know well: The World’s End. The basement venue of which is called The Underworld. Perhaps THIS is SDC’s London Underground…
Our latest Tube line is called the Elizabeth line, after our late Queen. How pleasing would it be if the next were to be the Charles line? That’s my train of thought.
Listen to 𝙇𝙤𝙣𝙙𝙤𝙣 𝙐𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙧𝙜𝙧𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙙 on the 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗹𝘆’𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗿 Spotify playlist HERE!
Listen to 𝙇𝙤𝙣𝙙𝙤𝙣 𝙐𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙧𝙜𝙧𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙙 on the 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗹𝘆’𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗿 Apple Music playlist HERE!
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