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.
𝙋𝙧𝙚𝙩𝙩𝙮 𝙈𝙪𝙢𝙢𝙖 - 𝙎𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙝𝙤𝙡𝙚
Charles is a mummy’s boy…
Just over a week ago was Mothering Sunday, or more commonly known as Mother’s Day. Having induced an almighty heart thump in the American, Australian and Mexican readers, don’t worry - you did not forget. Yours is in May. As for the rest of you around the world, please consult your diary. I only know about England, for I am English. Heart thump for the forgetful English… So, on that typically sunny cloudy rainy dry windy still Sunday, I took my mother to lunch in a posh restaurant. No I didn’t. I can’t afford a posh restaurant, and neither had I the foresight to book a table enough in advance even if I COULD have afforded it. Planning is everything. So on the Saturday we spoke on the telephonic communication system, otherwise known these days as a phone. There had always been a lovely old unchanged pub somewhat near where she lives. I used to frequent this drinking hole quite a bit. She had been there MANY years ago - I believe. It was always full of old junk. In a good way. Ancient street signs, original beer and tobacco adverts, stuffed animals and even a beautiful curved backlit stained glass “window” in the corner. Old church pews and cracked green leather banquettes grounded beneath the ornately Rococo-framed portrait of Sir Richard Steele as he peered down at the exciting eccentric hoard with disgrace. The pub had been unimaginatively named in honour of this late 17th century writer: The Sir Richard Steele. Or as we locals called it, The Steeles. It was fabulous. One of my absolute favourite pubs in London, and ever so popular. So what did they do? They closed it and gutted it. Apparently in order to “refresh” the appearance and make it “more appealing to a modern audience”. I went back months later after it had reopened, and I almost wept. The beautiful stained glass of which I spake was now the entrance door. I didn’t get much further than that. Cheap pop music blasted through the place in the mid afternoon, as literal toddlers toddled all over the floor. The place was made of cheap purple plastic. Even the floor. They had a bouncer. Ahem, sorry: a doorman. That was new. Didn’t used to be necessary. Kinda shows what kinda clientele they were expecting… I didn’t actually walk in, I just peered around the door, shuddered and left. Before wandering up the road in a dispirited frame of mind, I spoke to the doorman softly with a hand on his shoulder, explaining how it used to be. He replied in kind, hand on mine. He said “Take your hand off my shoulder or I’ll…” - no he didn’t. He said how he had heard so much about the old place and how sad everyone is that it’s gone. It seemed as though he would have loved it. The place was empty, and stayed that way. Hence the inevitable closure not too long after.
I thought the pub would never re-open, but to my surprise and delight I was wrong. Far too late, the owners realised what they had done, and that it was the “oldness” and eccentricity that brought people there. The vibe. The character. The CHARM!! And so, they set to putting it back to how it was. But you can’t do this, can you. You can’t recreate the way of the past. This was a collection of stuff built up over years. Decades. Things were slotted in where they had space, or even where they didn’t. The lighting was yellow and dim from age. You cannot fake age. Anyway, this once much-loved pub got a lot of press and rave reviews over its re-reopening. They boasted “under old management”, to entice the regulars back, and pretend that half a decade hadn’t passed. Remember I mentioned my mother and I speaking on the phone? Well we decided on that. I tried my very best to book a table, but with two websites, two phone numbers, two email addresses, three sets of opening times and a Facebook page that hadn’t been updated since 2021, the internet was not being very useful. I tried all numbers. I emailed. No answer. No reply. “Ah well, let’s just go anyway”, we said. It wasn’t looking great so far… But still, we toddled along, like those carefree toddlers. We said we would meet there. I said I would be early, so as not to keep a lady waiting. I was late. But only by 3 minutes. Sure enough, there she was: my pretty mama. All smiles and sweetness, as ever. That slender frame of hers showing such honesty and trust. As in body, not a Zimmer frame: she is not only fully mobile, but still dances! Let’s hope that ever-young gene continues down the line. Anyway, we entered, cautiously and timidly. Observation glasses on. Inspection form clamped in clipboard. One click of the pen, and I’m ready. Hmmm… Much as I had imagined. Quick-fix cheapness. It looks like most “cool” bars in London and America. Random unrelated iconic crap neatly stuck on the wall in a dyslexic grid, evidently cobbled together in no longer than a week. The Warhol Marilyn. The Beatles (minus Paul??). Muhammad Ali. Bowie. New advertising signs with printed rust (no tobacco, of course - because then the toddlers’ first vocal request would be “Player’s Please”). It goes on. And all of this slapped on the mandatory ubiquitous matte black walls of every bar in the world these days. The stained glass had been hastily chucked back where it used to be, with very visible silver screws on each corner. Of course, this had been turned into a door in the previous re-fit, so surely a lot of work to put it back to how it was? Nope. No work at all. Lock the door and staple the old thing to the other side. No backlight, and frankly looking absurd. Parts of it were backlit by the window of the door, and the rest of the door is wood - not a material known for its translucence. A botched mess, basically. Good lavatories though, safely tucked away downstairs now. Generic, but actually not disgusting. Gone are the days of aiming into a rusty metal gutter! Well, there’s something, I suppose. After realising their menu (quite possibly good food - but equally quite possibly not) amounted to a total of two dishes, we left after one drink. It was perfectly comfortable there, but so is everywhere else in London. Unperturbed, my mother still looked pretty.
So we crossed the road for “take two”. London pub pies are usually something special. We were in the mood, and by this point rather ravenous. I ordered more drinks and a round of pies. The chap behind the bar got things wrong and didn’t charge for half the stuff I ordered. Unfortunately he realised soon after I thought it was suspiciously cheap. It was the chap’s first week - absolutely nothing wrong with that. Everyone has to learn, and he was perfectly polite about the whole thing. Strangely for Mother’s Day, the place was completely empty aside from a girl sipping a clear liquid at the bar, and a man in the corner, deep into his laptop. So why after forty something minutes were we still waiting for our food?? A rhetorical question, for I have no answer. My disgruntled thought however evidently prodded them into action, and the feasts were set upon our sticky table by the newly employed boy - he looked quite a lot like the singer from Years & Years. But let’s face it: it probably wasn’t. Pie and mash and peas and gravy. Simplistic, gorgeous pleasure is what this should be. THIS however, was not. My filthy knife did not leave the table, in fact. Not because the table was THAT sticky, but because we did not touch the food. At this point I must be coming across as a right snob, But let me ask you this: is a pie supposed to be wrapped in a foil dish when served on a plate, with gravy surrounding the foil…? Sounding less appetising? I thought so. This was one soft, soggy pie with instant mash and sorry peas. After a sigh, I asked the chap how we were supposed to remove the pies from the foil, and his reply was this: “Well, you just take it out”. His answer was as sorry as the peas. I then requested this to be done by the kitchen, and that something resembling a pie remains. With plates swiftly confiscated, I apologised to my mother for about the fifth time. I felt so damned guilty by this point. She sat there so comfortably, neatly, calmly, smiling, effortlessly elegant and as pretty as ever. This isn’t senility, this is just her natural way. A wonderful lady with a pure soul. And no thank you, Freud. I do not have mother issues. The boy wonder returned with reinforcements and our untouched plates of metal in gravy. His accomplice explained to us that the pies could not be removed because otherwise the pies would fall to pieces. It was at that point that I had had enough and demanded a refund. I was informed that “management” had told the kitchen to close and that any food was to be cooked at the bar by the bar staff. Hence the embarrassing mess we were handed. Oh management, what would we do without you.
“Take 3” was a wander up the road to a cute little unchanged restaurant called Chez Nous. This family-run business has been there for decades, and is always a simple delight. It was as perfect as one could hope for. Thank the LORD!!! Despite the nightmare beforehand, it did give us something to chuckle about. Never have red gingham tablecloths been so welcoming. And there she sat, I came to think, my pretty mama, adorned in pink.
Nine years later, after a spot of lunch, I thought you and I could have a spot of music. Yes, like my meal, I took an age to get there, but I just couldn’t not mention my silly day. From the hellholes of the past to the soulholes of the present, please give a warm welcome to Soulhole, with their brand new single Pretty Mumma! These English boys sure know how to rock the casbah. It’s time to get on your dancing shoes and show them that jig you’ve been practicing. Jordan Digby gets our little toes a-twitchin’ with a few confident strums of the acoustic, before Nathan Warrington starts the ball rolling on drums. Matt Digby and Billy Poore join in on keys and bass, respectively. We’re in! Hips wrigglin’ like billy-o! All weight on them toes! Our fringes are swaying like they used to. Then Jordan takes to the mic like pizza to a hungry stomach - where it belongs. It’s a modern vibe with something of the fun of the 90s. I also hear The Hoosiers in their sound (a much underrated band, in my opinion). There is English jaunt that seemingly only the English can do. There is bop. There is humour to be taken seriously. Basically, a great big bundle of fun, drenched in cool. THIS is that charm I was missing. Jordan and the boys really are here to make you dance and enjoy life.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re right. It’s true, I have said very little about the music. I realised lately the purpose of my reviews is twofold. One, to entertain and give you something fun or interesting to read. Two, to bring you a new song every week and give the deserving artist some well-earned free publicity. There isn’t a great deal of point in talking about the music itself unless there is a great or unusual backstory. Music is for the ears and the soul. Not to be read about. So go on, press play and let the artist know they have fans they never knew existed! Your pretty mumma would be proud of you.
After lunch, I saw the lady home, then mamma mia let me go.
Listen to 𝙋𝙧𝙚𝙩𝙩𝙮 𝙈𝙪𝙢𝙢𝙖 on the 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗹𝘆’𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗿 Spotify playlist HERE!
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