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.
𝙉𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 𝙏𝙤 𝘿𝙖𝙮 - 𝙎𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙣𝙮 𝘿𝙞𝙥𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙨
Charles catches the sun and puts it in his pocket…
The sun is a wondrous thing. It shines bright from behind the blue. It both creates and eradicates shadow, turning dark into light, and light into darker. Leaves and yolk-filled petals bask, as we burn and cower. Said scented blooms will turn in synchronisation with its beam, always to be head-to-head with the god of the sky. Those of us who do wish to confront its rays will do so with a youthful pride. Head held high, arms glistening with salty beads. What is it about these golden rays that makes us smile? A simple thing of brightness and warmth. Can it be as simple as that? Could it be the Vitamin D that our bodies make, much like a human equivalent of photosynthesis…? It is more powerful than chemistry, surely. We have learnt of solar power relatively recently, but have felt it within ourselves for millennia. This is where nature competes and wins every time. Everyone benefits. Well, almost everyone. Farmers with their droughts, skin cancer sufferers, people whose land regularly deals with forest fires, even little freckle-faced Billy who can’t go out to play because of his sensitive skin… There are negatives. Oh and then there’s the big old climate change stuff… But on the whole, The sun is a wondrous thing.
Soon after the clouds have glowed their last pink of the day, we are left with a different world. A world where the nature lays dormant, and man (or woman, or ‘prefer not to say’) takes over. The sun has one major flaw (among others). It makes us tired. It makes us lazy. Nature may spring into action as soon it pops its head above the horizon, but as soon as it goes to sleep, so too does nature. We humans are cut from a different cloth. Once darkness has risen, our eyes begin to see again. Once the coolth awakens the hairs on our arms, we ascend. The electric lampposts ping one by one, like a muted xylophone just before Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire start to do their thang. For many, our day starts at night. This is where we come alive. Night owls, you might say. City nightlife is a truly exciting thing, and it is all manmade. The lights, the eyes of the vehicles, the bars, the clubs, the music. But mostly, the lights. It is all so riveting. The sun may have incredible power in many ways, but it is simply one VERY big light. Take a bridge for example, like the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, or Tower Bridge in London. When the midday sun glares down upon it, it is a well-lit bridge. Just that. Clear and visible, and making it easy to admire its architect’s vision. At night though, all is different. The structure itself is close to invisible, and the world around us turns into bright shapes. An abstract distortion of hours before. An impression of what is actually there. It makes the mind wander. It makes the mind dream. Imagination springs to life and becomes a reality. If the sun is our alcohol (or marijuana), then the night is our coffee (or cocaine).
A certain individual has also noticed the joys of the night. Ryan Gross (aka Skinny Dippers) rocks romance with an indie swing, in his brand new single, Night To Day. The New Yorker has quietly been mighty busy over the past year, while all we had was his panties… Let me explain. 2020 brought us many things. Things that don’t deserve a single dwell. But positively, it brought us the New Artist Spotlight. It also formed the start of many artists’ music career and ambition, for there was simply not the time beforehand. I for one, started my public presence that very year, and so did Skinny Dippers, with a song called Panties. It is still to this day, one of the best unsigned indie records I have ever heard. Seemingly everyone who has heard it, loves it. And then what…? Well, that’s the thing. THEN WHAT?? We waited patiently. Then we waited impatiently. Then we started poking and prodding. Other than my remake of that very record - released on the original’s anniversary - we had nothing new from Ryan (Mr. Dippers) in 2021. After multiple softly unthreatening threats from us to him, he spoke. Poor bloke. It turned out that he had been busy making an entire album for us. For the world! He had set the bar high, for any forthcoming release. But a full length ALBUM was REALLY no mean feat. A huge challenge and a gigantic undertaking. The album is now complete, and will - rumour has it - be released in August.
Whereas last year was tumbleweed territory for Skinny Dippers, only 4 months into 2022, and we have already been given 3 brand new singles from the indie heavyweight. Every release has tempted me to pick up my quill, but I hesitated, knowing there were more singles to come. And then the entire album! “Through Tryin’” was really good. “Wedding Ring” was splendid. But “Night To Day” was the one that made me hesitate no longer. Enough’s enough: “Get this man a drink!!” - for he has earned it. Ryan Gross is the king of making you feel good, without being wishy-washy. Like a flower on a biker jacket. Beauty with a punch! I can’t really explain what he manages, but manage he does. It is seemingly effortless for him. But like the best pop music, just because it SOUNDS effortless, doesn’t mean there has been little effort in the making. I know this from experience. It can take days, weeks and even months to perfect a 3 or 4 minute pop song, but it must never sound this way. The average listener shouldn’t be able to discern the struggle. It should sound sweat-free - unless sweat is what you’re going for, in which case: drench away! Ryan is however bone dry, forever floating, but always anchored by the swagger of a bitchin’ rhythm section at the other end of the rope. Guitars coast like know-it-all synths, as Mr. Dippers soars to the highest heights of the Brooklyn Bridge itself, with a voice studded with hope, passion and exuberance. Coldplay’s Chris Martin gives me a very similar feeling, with a very different sound. There is a lightness and smile akin to The Shins’ James Mercer that brings the joy of the 60s into a thoroughly more modern setting.
Cover art is something that has had somewhat of a resurgence of late. What a boring sentence! Cover art has recently come back from the dead. That’s better. Despite the scale of music artwork diminishing to the point where we can barely see it, social media and the internet in general have helped to bring back the thing that catches one’s eye, and can perhaps be the deciding factor of whether someone will press play, or not. Some covers might still be utterly lousy and frankly embarrassing, but in general the high standard of artwork has not gone unnoticed, at least by me. In fact, I often find that the music itself is a bit of a letdown…! Skinny Dippers gets it just right with this release. It could be my favourite cover design in the New Artist Spotlight so far, and very much has just the sort of intrigue and detail that makes me want to hear the music. There can be a concern that the music doesn’t quite live up to the artwork, but in the case of Night To Day, the music supersedes it! Beauty wrapped in beauty.
With the album coming soon, this night owl will rise with the sun.
Young Billy however, will be sticking close to Gene and Fred - it’s safer that way.
Listen to 𝙉𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 𝙏𝙤 𝘿𝙖𝙮 on the 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗹𝘆’𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗿 Spotify playlist HERE!
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