You might not think you know North Carolina’s The Connells, but unless you were living under a rock in the early 90s, you will have heard their hugely underrated epic hit of a song ’74-75′ which still sounds as good today as when it was first released. Anyway rejoice because the six-piece are back after a 20 year-long hiatus with the release of their new single ‘Really Great’. The group has also announced their upcoming album ‘Steadman’s Wake’, which lands on September 24th via Black Park/Missing Piece Records. This is the band’s first album to feature two newest members, guitarist Mike Ayers and drummer Rob Ladd (who have been in the lineup since 2002 and 2012, respectively), and the band’s first record with Mike Connell taking a prominent role as vocalist.
“As it happens, ‘Really Great’ is one of the few songs that I’ve written totally in a major key,” says Connell, “which makes it seem brighter than most of the bands’ songs, which are in a minor key. The lyrics of the song are somewhat facetious or tongue-in-cheek, given that the situations described in the verses – ‘I’m in some never ending, mind-bending turnstile’ and ‘I’m in some thunder-clapping, soul-sapping whirlwind’ — are not ‘really great,’ at all, but are actually pretty dismal. This was an attempt at describing my take on what was going on in the world, between a global pandemic, and the fallout from that, as well as the political and social situation in this country. By the chorus, however, the prevailing mood or spirit of the song shifts when the singer begins to focus on the more personal and particular – going to see a friend, taking in the beauty of blue skies on a sunny day, some old favorite song rattling around in his head.”
In addition to the album announcement and new single, The Connells have also released their 1986 debut album ‘Darker Days’ on streaming platforms for the first time. The record, which has been out of print since the 90’s, was released in a digital format for the first time in April when it was added to Bandcamp. Demos of the original album caught the eye of executives at Elvis Costello’s Demon Records, which later released ‘Darker Days’ here in the UK.
‘Really Great’ packs more punch and energy into its under 2 and a half minutes runtime than a lot of songs do in twice that. Less is more in this case – if this is a sampler of what’s to come then the album should be something to look forward to. Yay to that.