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.
𝙈𝙤𝙧𝙚 𝙉𝙤𝙩𝙚𝙨, 𝙇𝙚𝙨𝙨 𝙑𝙞𝙗𝙧𝙖𝙩𝙤 - 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝘼𝙧𝙜𝙤𝙣𝙖𝙪𝙩𝙨
Charles goes back in time to lose his mind once more…
There is a chunk of my life that none of you knows about. Not one. I used to a be a woman. No, no: with this beard, that would be most silly and quite unrealistic. Although I have always been quite proud of my eyelashes. I am going to tell you about that chunk. Cue dream-scene wavy lines - doodly doodly doo. And we’re here. The year is 2006. I am 22. My hair is quite long and naturally blonde. My beard is straggly and thin in parts, which makes me look somewhat like a terrorist stereotype. Nah, I can’t do this in the present tense - all too real and freaking me out. Let me tell you about the time anyway. Having recently obtained my music degree, I thought it best to have a lot of fun. And so I did. I was out every night of the week. Girls, parties, pubs, girls, drink, smoke, girls, drink, smoke, drink, smoke - ahem. I was YOUNG!! Leave me alone. So, there was all of that, as per usual. But as with today, there was one constant. Music. Always listening, always discovering, always playing, always going to gigs. But always PLAYING gigs. Good old giggity-gigs. I was in several bands through the years, but there was always one particular one that stays with me. We were really rather good - if you like that sort of thing. A simple four-piece consisting of guitar, bass, drums and vocals. Joe King was the incredible bassist. Yes, his real name was Joe King - his parents must have been having a laugh. Blah was the guitarist, and other blah was the singer. I say Blah because we didn't particularly get on in the end, and the other blah was his girlfriend and so backed him up on everything he said or did. She also couldn’t sing and didn’t understand the concept of a melody. It was more of a drunk croon from someone occasionally walking on hot coals. You know these medic types (for that was what she was studying at the time)… This guitarist though - he was good, but his fingers were like spider legs. The simplest movement on the neck of the guitar made his hand look contorted like someone suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Basically, his fingers weren’t as good as his brain. He came up with really good licks, but couldn’t quite play them well enough. And then there was me. I was on drums.
So was this a rock band? You’d probably assume so, as most “bands” tend to be - particularly going by the year. But no. The band’s name was Bathroom Sally. Not your average name. It was all about contradictions. To do what people were not doing. Not to be purposely irritating, but just to bring something new to the table. This was a funk band. Well, okay, it was funky rock band. Actually more like a rocky funk band with a touch of weird. Funk was just about the most unfashionable thing at the time. It had not yet sprung to the fore in the usual trend of rebirths these days. In fact, aside from Jamiroquai and the odd acid jazz combo of the early 90s, funk had never really made a comeback since its evolution in the 70s. And yes, this was before Mark Ronson started making funk cool again. Did we have song titles like ‘Because I Love You’, or ‘Holding On’…? We did not. This was REAL funk, not just funky. Funk is a lifestyle, not just a syncopated rhythm. One has to live the funk to do the funk. So put that in your pipe and smoke it like it’s chocolate. Actually, come to think of it, that really could have been one of our song titles! Here are but a few of them: ‘Put a Pin In It’, ‘It’s Not My Job to Daboobee-Badoobee’, ‘Teddy Bears’: an evil dark funky jazz metal render of Teddy Bear’s Picnic, ‘Barons of Stank’, ‘A Shark with Knees’, ‘My Little Pony Has Something Wrong With Its Leg’, and about the only normal sounding title: ‘Giant Structures’. But you guessed what that was REALLY about - the opposite of ‘Put a Pin In It’. It was all so warped and oh so wonderful! It was not everyone’s cup of tea, by any means. But I am sure it would be loved today, as people seem far more in tune with funk and cleverness in music. Not to mention humour. Of course, not the mainstream - I’ll leave that to Mark Ronson and his merry crew of singers. Speaking of whom though, Bathroom Sally really WAS ahead of its time. When did cool turn uncool (or tepid)? And when did uncool turn cool again. For me, funk died in around 1979. It made a brief reappearance in around 1996 and 2007, but basically didn’t make a full comeback into the mainstream until around 2013, and is still going strong ten years later!
This whole idea of fashions changing absolutely fashionates me. Music goes subtle, sad and heartfelt, when things used to be bold, happy and brazen. Uncool is the new cool. Black is the new white. Female is the new male. More of those contradictions… Small is the new big. Less is the new more. Wait, I’ve heard that one before. Less is more. Yup, that makes sense. No, it doesn’t make sense. None of this makes sense. Just like how small can never be big. Less is LESS. MORE is more. Dumb-dumb. No, I won’t hear of it - you won’t sway me by telling me that having less lends more room and therefore makes what little there is seem bigger. Metallica is more than Damien Rice. There. Discussion over. Debate done. End of. And if the musical genius Jacob Collier agrees with me, then I MUST be right. But then again, he makes complicated music. And my own music is not exactly known for its sparsity. So okay, maybe I am biased. That’s taste, baby!
There is someone else who agrees with me. Someone by the name of Dale Mangold and his merry band of Argonauts. A fabulous funk band all the way from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And my WORD, they brought me right back to the good old days. The crazy old days. Despite Dale (on behalf of The Argonauts) having been with the New Artist Spotlight for over 6 months, I have never mentioned them. Until now. And why? Because I can only write one article a week! You know that. We’ve been over this. So I kept plonking them back and back and back in my rota until it had become secretly embarrassing. Well, I am embarrassed no more. Please welcome The Argonauts!!! This 9-piece is eccentric and insane. In a good way. It is all about having a good time. There is no room for subtlety, no room for soft and slushy, no room for playing it safe. This is bold, brazen, brash, rude, kinky, absurd, hilarious and outrageously fun! And God damn it, please play a gig in London (The Forum would be the best place for you)! Although with that number of members, you may have to hire a private jet to get here…
‘More Notes, Less Vibrato’ is one of my favourites from their self-titled debut LP. I really could have chosen any one of the 9 songs, but I eventually went with ‘More Notes’. Five of the nine members start straight in with an ‘a cappella’ chorus in octave unison, with the odd jazzy harmony thrown in. Joe Pucciarelli (lead vocals & guitar) leads the tight Barbershop rabble, accompanied by Dale Mangold (tenor sax & vocals), Kevin Ward (lead guitar & vocals), Matt Penco (keys & vocals), and Joe Shields (bass & vocals). Louis Costa then slams in with the drums, closely followed by Matt Needles (alto sax), Zach Spondike (baritone sax), Luke Franks (trumpet) and the rest of the band, replacing voice with their respective instrument. After this glorious intro, Kevin, Joe S and Zach prove they are the Barons of Stank, with a big fat farty riff from both heaven and hell, or somewhere in between. I don’t know about you, but whenever I think of the baritone sax, I think of that farty sound. And I bloody love it! Meanwhile, Joe P is on top, giving it his all - as it were. And den dem horns!!! Oh those horns. All of them, together with the guitars and the drums. All making sweet, sweet potatoes. Gorgeous. Interestingly, the actual song reminds me a bit of Aerosmith’s ‘Walk This Way’ (Run-DMC version or not). But my God, the treatment is just about as different as it can get. There is even a Jewish influence (I seem to be liking traditional Jewish music more and more)! Are you stankin’? I’m stankin’. Boppin’ ma head to dat stank, yessiree! Heavin’ ma whole body to the groove.
This is eccentricity at its finest. True funk can only be played by weirdos and geeks (apologies, Argonauts, but I think you’ll agree with me). Have you ever seen a normal looking funk musician? A level-headed chap or chapesse who just happens to play funk music? Can you imagine George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Colin Firth or Daniel Craig playing funk? I don’t think so. But how’s about Charlie Chaplin, Lucille Ball, Steve Martin and Jim Carrey…? NOW you’re talking. Because they’re weird. They’re zany. They’re FUN! And it is innate in all of them. Nothing fake, and nothing put on. It is in their soul. I don’t think I have ever heard a sad funk song. Have you? Now THAT is an interesting idea! Right. You’re all musicians and artists. Make a sad funk song. Go on, I dare you. And if you manage successfully, I WILL review it. Now if THAT isn’t an incentive, I don’t know what is. You have one hour, starting nnnnnnnn-
Now, coming back to The Argonauts, I mentioned eccentricity, but what is this if you haven’t the wherewithal to use it (always wanted to write that ridiculous word)… Ya see, it comes down to talent. Without talent you’re just a pretty lady in a kooky hat. But these 9 cats with their 9 songs have spent their 9 lives wisely. Being gifted is one thing, but one still has to work, practise and experience in order to allow that gift to flourish. There isn’t a dud member in this large ensemble, and if there were, I would hear it. I haven’t spent my life listening to music for nothing! My ears are now honed to pick up the slightest flaw ruining otherwise great music. Meaning music is often ruined for me due to my over attentive ears and obsession with and craving for perfection. But I like those high ideals towards which my ears so effortlessly migrate. I wouldn’t have it any other way. It means that when I hear something like The Argonauts, I am in another world. Their world. The dream is unbroken by gobsmackingly flawless talent. And what a dream it is. Have a listen not only to ‘More Notes, Less Vibrato’, but also their fabulously funky LP.
(don’t worry, I like you soft, lo-fi folky artists too)
As to Bathroom Sally, yes, there are recordings. And no, they are not available to listen to.
And just like NAS member Bad Scullianz, Bathroom Sally shares the same unfortunate acronym.
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