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.
𝙎𝙤𝙢𝙖 𝘽𝙮 𝘿𝙧𝙤𝙣𝙚 - 𝘽𝙧𝙮𝙖𝙣 𝘾𝙤𝙤𝙥𝙚𝙧
Charles proves there’s mo’ to life than...
Girls Girls Girls. That’s all I’ve been talking about for weeks. Louise Lewis, Cecilee, Bernice Marsala, Emily Gray, Jane Marie, Jessica Mia… So much for women being ignored in the music industry! Not that I’m the industry… Was this a conscious decision of mine though, to review more women? Nope. Just a coincidence. But I was however aware of the fact. I don’t care about gender, just like I don’t care where someone is from, or what colour they are. It’s not that I am a defender of people’s rights or anything; to quote the last bloke I reviewed: I simply don't care. To me, it’s irrelevant. For me, it’s all about the music. Only the music. Politics, class, gender, religion, colour and nationality just don’t come into it. If women were to have a problem with me not reviewing them, I would politely tell them to “improve”. As it is though, this is fiction. They have been “better” than the men. Or, I have favoured their music more. Not “better”. Apologies to the men who have perhaps been shortsighted in thinking I was favouring women over men of late. Step up your game, chaps! And what better time to do it than November. Ahem: MOvember.
With more than 20 days of November having passed us by, you men should have quite the bristle brush below your nose. Nature’s soup strainer! Maybe you’ve opted for a Chaplin-esque stubby. Or maybe not, as it has other connotations… Perhaps you’ve gone for the classic sergeant major look? Or the Zappa two-piece? The Lemmy handlebar? Dali uprights, anyone? Would you even DARE?? Maybe you just got lazy and thought “I’ll just stop shaving altogether”. To be fair, this is what ‘growing a beard’ is. You don’t GROW a beard, you simply don’t halt the appearance of it growing every morning. Either way though, ’tache or fuzzy face, many of you might not have the faintest clue what I’m talking about. I am talking about Movember. The month that used to be about raising awareness of ghastly things like prostate cancer and testicular cancer. Well, the month USED to be about Autumn, but there you go. Much like how London’s Congestion Charge (this CC is more known yet less popular) changed from meaning too much traffic, to too much pollution, Movember generalised its meaning to raising awareness of men’s physical and mental health. And it also raises a fortune as a charity for the same cause. Splendid stuff! For once, something that isn’t against men! How can anyone possibly be “against” half the population of the world?! Rather silly, I should have said.
Mental health is a troubling thing. It is something bandied about ad nauseam these days, and is not to be misconstrued with “feeling a little stressed”. This is simply being human and living life. Or perhaps a touch of the man-flu. A high-powered, highly-paid man will have huge responsibilities, and will no doubt have to deal with a great deal of stress from such a job. This is however the reason they are so highly-paid. Which they know. Most of us do not have this problem, as most of us are not highly-paid. We have other stresses in life. Some of us even have serious mental illnesses. And these days, there seems to be a cripplingly gloomy cloud above us at all times. A feeling of impending doom, where nothing will lift our spirits. THIS is mental health - or lack of it. And the world as we see it - however big or small - does not help. The media, the governments, the social media. It all plays a part in bringing us down. Comfortable happiness has taken a backseat. Fewer rights, less freedom, fewer pennies, more rules, more regulations, and a general feeling of destruction of a past that once shone brighter. I’m not entirely sure why we concentrate on men for this month of Mo, and not on everyone all year round, but it pleases me that people still care about the big-shouldered clumsy brutes that we are. I suppose we are a troubled tribe. I haven’t shaved once this month! But then again, I can’t remember the last time I did. So maybe I am raising awareness throughout the entire year, without even realising it. Maybe people see my face and think of testicular cancer. Nice! I don’t know. Maybe they just think I’m crazy. Maybe they don’t notice me at all under all this facial fuzz…
When things are so bad, some people resort to drugs. Not the best idea, but it CAN temporarily take away the pressure of life. The tension. The problem of course is then addiction and that you can’t do without said drug, and everything in life gets even worse than it was before. Oh, what joy. One such drug that I wouldn’t recommend (he says, having never tried it), is Soma. Otherwise known as carisoprodol, it allows your body to relax, relieving muscle tension. Can you imagine a time when we might actually regularly need this, just to simply endure normal life…? This lovely thing we optimistically call “The Future”… Well, Bryan Cooper has explored exactly this idea in his latest single, Soma By Drone. It is unclear from the lyrics whether this drug is to be administered by the state (sound familiar…?) or whether this is a more private way of getting through the bleakness of life in the near future. But what is important, is that this song is deeply special. A feeling I rarely get from acoustic tracks. I mean RARELY.
By chance, we stay in the land of Eng, but move northwards to Yorkshire, if only for the weather. Being a Northerner (although now living in Japan), Bryan is no doubt a hard man, unlike we soft Southerners. But as with many hardened men, the slightest hairline crack can lead to raw flesh. Fragility and openness in its naked form. Physical strength is no match for a broken state of mind. He who hits hardest often pays the ultimate price. One’s strength can be withered by everything around, leading to, well, a soft Southerner with perhaps more heart. This heart is open and beating warmly in this beautiful, honest recording. Although Bryan’s musical influences might include Graham Coxon, Bert Jansch, Sonny Bono, Guy Garvey, Thom Yorke, Jeff Buckley, Billy Corgan, Grant Nicholas (Feeder), Chris Martin and Yes the Raven, this is by no means a pastiche or hodgepodge of all combined. This is something very personal and very fresh, yet cosy. I am sure many other plausible influences have temporarily eluded me, but that will do for now. Speaking of Yes the Raven, though (listen to the album Love is Covered in Dust), Soma By Drone is the first acoustic song I have truly ADORED since having stumbled upon Yes the Raven around a year ago. It realises the true purpose of an acoustic song. To feel personal. To feel its meaning and passion, laid cold and bare. For the stark and simplistic instrumentation to hold up without more elaborate production. For this to work, the music has to be interesting enough, the words sublime, and usually for it to be short. Of course there also has to be a great voice, or at least one that “gets” you, and a wonderful melody. The only other thing is that it must sound good. The mix, I mean. Bryan has ticked ALL of these boxes, with a handful of ticks left over.
The delicacy and closeness of the guitar is light yet close, like a whisper at the lobe. It plucks with precision, but only just enough, so as to remind us that humans have a purpose. While we may strive for perfection, it would be a dark day if we ever actually succeed. We would become robots. After one (already interesting) round of the guitar, Bryan’s vocal melody counters the melody of the guitar, swaying naturally from major to minor, before settling on major. There is an ambiguity over the mood of the song; sometimes melancholy, sometimes mockingly hopeful, sometimes deeply sad, verging on despair. But this voice. It really is just so personal! So beautiful, with its upper mid range old-radio sound. Its dryness juxtaposed with the lush, full-bodied guitar, sets contrast. I think both Pauls (Simon and McCartney), Alan Mearns (of Yes the Raven), Bach and even Segovia would be proud of his key changes and melodies. Truly not what one would expect, yet could easily pass you by, due to being expertly chosen (snatched from the ether), leading the ears to think it is more usual than it really is. This is a technique I often use in my own writing - to sound simple enough, when it actually isn’t. Music should generally flow. It usually shouldn’t jar on you. You shouldn’t be going “woah, that was weird. I didn’t see that one coming”. It should be more like “oh wow, that was wonderful! I didn’t see THAT one coming”. A subtle difference, mon ami. Or, it should simply be enjoyed, without ever even noticing such changes - the reason it is enjoyable is the technical stuff you probably didn’t know or care about. And why SHOULD the whole world know about chord changes, key changes and cadences?? Music is to be enjoyed, and shouldn’t need a degree or prior knowledge in order to enjoy it. The very reason I don’t go for conceptual art. The concept should - to me - be apparent in the art, rather than having to be told afterwards why I should in fact be enjoying said art. Golly, digression does come easily to me, doesn’t it. Where was I? Oh yes, Bryan’s voice. This voice is perfectly imperfect in all the right (and wrong) ways. There is an occasional wobbly note - perfection. Occasionally a gruffness in his throat - perfection. A buzz from a naughty string on a naughtier fret - perfection. Bryan also plays with reverb in the cleverest of ways. The song has little more than a light room reverb, but then opens up and into a small cathedral at times. Which times? Well, whenever he felt it was right. Bryan evidently knows what he’s doing. Oh, and keep an ear out for the very brief sarcastic laugh at one point. It’s a subtle kick in the teeth to the establishment. And take note, establishment. Bryan’s not the only one who’s seen through you.
So there you have it. I went from Girls Girls Girls, to facial hair, to testicular cancer. It’s all Balls Balls Balls.
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