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.
𝙎𝙤𝙝𝙤 𝙁𝙪𝙜𝙞𝙩𝙞𝙫𝙚 - 𝙁𝙤𝙧𝙬𝙖𝙧𝙙𝙢𝙖𝙣
Charles’ glass is half empty but his bag is chock-full…
Bags. Do you use one? Do you permanently have a leather satchel slung over your shoulder? Are you the briefcase type? Is ANYone?? Can’t remember the last time I saw one. Do you opt for a different dainty little handbag every day of the week that can barely carry a packet of mints? But, but… It goes so well with my pink frou-frou blouse…! Are you daring enough to rock the dreaded fanny pack (“bumbag” in England, as “fanny” has a rather different meaning over here)… What about one of those funny things that youths these days seem to staple to themselves? Not quite a bumbag, not quite a shoulder bag. A pouch of sorts, with a hidden zip pocket for concealing illicit substances… What a lovely world this is turning out to be! Perhaps you opt for one of those canvas jobbies advertising Daunt Books (for the Londoners among you) for that “Darling, I’m really not that rich” look. You could boast that it is made from 100% recycled hemp! Now THAT’S a way to make friends. Maybe you just don’t care, and you use an old plastic supermarket bag you found at the back of the kitchen cupboard. But then again, you’d be hounded by the 100%-hemp mob for using plastic. Probably best to stuff your belongings into your pockets, pull your hood down over your eyes, and get on with it. Top marks for the “dodgy drug dealer” look, though. Yep, I think most people these days seem to do away with the bag idea altogether. You’re probably wondering by this point what kind of bag I use. Oh let’s be real, none of you is wondering that. None of you could care less. Well tough.
I’m going to tell you about my bag. Well, not that sort of bag. You see, in English, “bag” has various meanings. I do believe English was invented to confuse the foreigners. Even THAT is just so bloody English. So. One can carry a bag. One can bag something, meaning to snatch or grab - or get it before it’s gone. Bag can also be used as a verb. To bag, meaning to put something into a bag. But then there is another verbal meaning: to kill. Usually in terms of animals. However, the meaning I mean means (phew!), my ultimate thing. My gold. My elixir. My quintessence. My tipple. That’s what MY bag is. “So what is your bag?” - Well, I just said. “But what is your bag in the sense of YOUR bag?” - I told you English was designed to confuse… Ah, you mean what “warms my cockles”? What “floats my boat”? Well Okay. I’ll tell you. In English.
It’s London. The way it was around 15 to 20 years ago. Before it lost its mind. When it was still thrilling, and still London. When old met new with a firm respectful salute, rather than an “I suppose I’ll have to put up with you”. When one was proud to be a Londoner because, well, just look AROUND! Those magnificent grand buildings, those views, those dark alleys, those pubs and clubs, and… And… Those people. I am not talking about Leicester Square or Oxford Street though, or even leafy Hampstead. No, no. I am talking about the in-between places. I mean places like Soho and Camden Town (there are no places like Soho and Camden Town). The REAL buzz of London. These are the days when I used to go out 6 or 7 nights a week. These days I only go out maybe, erm, well, I’m sure I’ve been out this year. Or was it last year? Anyway, things have changed, in all ways. Partly me, of course. Age, so they tell me - huh! The thing is, back then I really did strut around like it was my own place. Because it WAS! I was so proud. I was simply enjoying it so much! Rain simply meant one had an excuse to nip into a pub and meet interesting people. As if I needed an excuse. Sun meant walking for hours, realising that there is no point in trying to blow smoke rings outside. But one could smoke inside in those days, of course. I never did master the art of blowing smoke rings, but my stinking clothes wished I’d never tried. I was strangely drawn to back alleys (no rude jokes, please). It was just so Dickensian. These days I wouldn’t dare! I really liked the seedier side of London. It was curious, not dangerous. Simply real. Soho and Camden were full of elegant freaks, and I was one of them. And then there was the booze etc. We won’t go into that… These days though, London is plastic. Recycled plastic, of course. Wouldn’t want to offend the Hempians. Hempians have taken over, and so has the world. Everything is soft, with a cold steel core. London is no longer allowed to be London. It has to be Tokyo and Dubai and (modern) New York - another great city I believe to have lost its soul and its aura, along with Paris. We’re all one great big homogenised unhappy family.
So let us rediscover that magical hidden community. The Soho of our dreams. Papa’s got a brand new bag! Or perhaps these days, “Dad’s got a branded bag” and he got it on Amazon. Hardly enough to bag one’s soul… Let us tune our ears to the sound of vibe. This week was PARTICULARLY hard to choose a track for my pick of the week. The last few days have seen countless fabulous releases by so many great artists, but I actually kind of wished you all weren’t so good, just to make my “job” a little easier. Can’t there be just ONE week of slim pickings…? I don’t think I have ever decided and undecided so many times. Commiserations to all those I nearly chose but didn’t. You shall remain anonymous with the hope of slim pickings next week (huh!). Fingers crossed you’ll get your turn. The winner however (yes, Joao, I know we are all winners here, but ya know what I mean), was the winner because it got me. Forwardman, you really got me. You brought me back to my favourite time. You made me remember all that had passed, with such vividity I almost needed to pinch myself. But I did not pinch myself because I did not wish to leave. Please welcome the conjuring time traveller, Forwardman with their compelling brand new single, Soho Fugitive.
Forwardman’s frontman adores this very same aspect of London that zaps me into gear. So he must be a Londoner, right? Wrong. I’ll give you a clue. His real name is Sakari Viittala. No, not Indian. Israeli? Nope. And not the land of pasta either. Shall I tell you? He’s Finnish. “He done? Kaput with music? He dead?” - No, no and no. The band is from Finland. So how on Earth does Sakari manage to have such an affinity for London and its crooked dark passages?! Beats me! But I do know that whatever did this to him, also made him and the boys make the most fabulous music. This past week I have been listening to a band that while known to some, I suspect is not known to most. They are called Temples. And I think they should be HUGE. I have loved them since they first stepped on the scene a decade ago (God, time really does skitter by). Perhaps they shouldn’t be huge. It seems more and more that my taste in things is evidently not what the majority wants. Or maybe they do, but they don’t know it. It is a sound that perfectly goes with those hazy Soho/Camden days. It is psychedelic, melodic, bluesy, driving and downright cool. It is new; it is old. And why do I mention this? Because when pressing play on Soho Fugitive, I instantly had this feeling. It is a sound not too dissimilar, yet with of course an original difference. As Sakari sings, jives and chugs, Forwardman reminds me of the cool energy of The Small Faces, The Spencer Davis Group and The Libertines, yet with that psychedelic wink of bands like Temples, Tame Impala, and even Kula Shaker. I am not old enough to remember the original “turn on, tune in, drop out” of the 60s, so Kula Shaker is where it began for me in terms of saying “man” at the end of every sentence.
This is both rock and roll, and demands a live setting in order to be absorbed fully. In fact, as I listen, I am transported to the side of the bar, as I sway my head to the Mellotron strings and the stomping tom-tom beat. But then, the guitarist’s knee is jerking upwards in signal of the rest of the members to speed up. Here it comes, boys and girls! A tremendous drum fill to pick us up and bring us into the rip-roaring electric OWgan and funky guitar strums. But this is still only the beginning. As the drums settle into a tight shuffle groove, the bass (for me) takes centre stage with the most GORGEOUS 60s tone. THIS is how you play the bass!! Pure feel. Melodious vocal harmonies swirl around the room like brash, fresh patterns. By now, I am stamping and stomping my heel into the floorboards with the beat. I look down to see that many others have stamped and stomped here before; the varnish is long gone. This rockin’ little bar I’ve found here in the middle of Soho; Beatle boots are never out of fashion in a place like this. The occasional winklepicker perhaps, but Nike is not too popular around these parts. Ya see, you just can’t stamp or stomp without a proper heel. Sorry, this place is also perfect for digression: that girl’s got a fluffy tail! But I will not be sidetracked from this band. They’ve got me between the pickups. Oh, and now the sweating saxophone!! YES!! Just listen. You will be transported. Have a drink.
Three quotes for ya:
“Modern Life Is Rubbish” - Blur had it right.
“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”, famously said by Samuel Johnson. Don’t worry, Forwardman. I’m not quite there yet. London is still here, and still special, but things have no doubt changed.
“Both Sides Now”, Joni Mitchell demandingly shows her impatience… Forwardman’s new album, Stranded Future Soho Fugitive, will be released on vinyl on February 9th, and will be released on all platforms later in the year. Order the LP today HERE! I expect it to be a humdinger of a record. Both sides soon.
Review finnished? It’s in the bag, man.
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