The Connells return after 20-year hiatus

Photo Credit: Bryan Regan

Forgive me Father for I’m about to sin, but I do not remember The Connells? I spent a good part of the afternoon listening to their music and I really like it, so I have no idea what it was never on my radar, but hey, better late than never.

Apparently, the band released music in the 80s and 90s, but I do not know any of their music. So, the word on the street today is that they are preparing to release a new album after a 20-year hiatus. It makes me wonder where they have been all this time and what prompted them to get back together.

Where it all began?

The Connells first formed in Chapel Hill at the University of North Carolina in 1984 and released their debut album Darker Days in 1986. Their 1987 Mitch Easter-produced album Boylan Heights established them as college-radio favorites, and they went on to work with producers including Gary Smith (Pixies, Billy Bragg), Hugh Jones (Echo & the Bunnymen, Modern English) and Lou Giordano (Goo Goo Dolls, Bob Mould) on subsequent albums. Three albums by The Connells have made the Billboard 200 charts in the United States, but their biggest commercial success came overseas in 1993 with “’74- ’75,” a pensive and moody ballad from their Ring LP.

“’74-’75” seems to have gotten a good bit of playtime on Spotify, it’s not a bad song, but definitely have no recollection of it.

The hiatus is over

They’ll break their recording hiatus with Steadman’s Wake, a new 11-song album that will be released on September 24th, 2021.

Steadman’s Wake, their long-awaited 9th album, was originally set for release in 2020 but was held up due to the pandemic, a hard delay for a band that has waited so long for this follow-up. Tickets for The Connells tour dates go on sale Friday, June 25. In addition to announcing a tour and an album, the band also released the first single and it has a less than stellar name; “Really Great.” The song title might be lame, but the song is upbeat, it definitely does have a 90s vibe. It brings me back to my swim team days and jamming to anything upbeat I could listen to before a meet to get me mentally prepared for laps. Seriously, music moves me, I really wish I could have had waterproof earbuds at all times, I would have never stopped swimming.

The really great single

“As it happens, ‘Really Great’ is one of the few songs that I’ve written totally in a major key, 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.” – Mike Connell, guitarist and vocalist

Steadman’s Wake features eight new songs and 3 re-recorded versions of previously-released demos which originally appeared on 2001’s Old-School Dropouts CD. 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.

Tracklist:
Really Great
Fading In (Hardy)
Steadman’s Wake
Rusted Fields
Song For Duncan
Gladiator Heart
Burial Art
Universal Glue
Stars
Hello Water
Helium

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