Ben Connelly's covered the country: hitchhiking alone, then in a van with alt-country demolition crew Steeplejack (DEJAdisc), and since 2000, solo again from nightclub to nightclub with an old guitar. He's done his time in rehabs and detoxes; he's given himself to fathering and Zen practice, and through it all he's been devoted to song. Ben Connelly has a calling to tell stories, the ones he's lived and heard and the ones he's invented. The songs on his third solo album Over You (2006) tell stories of love and death, little lights in the night, an umbrella, the raw ache of heartbreak, and what's beyond the stars.
The Original Mark Edwards (aka OME) is back with his impressive sophomore release, The Doom Loop, on Princess Records. This time around, he replaces his computer-based beats with kitchen pots, electric kazoo, ukelele, clarinet, and everything else found on the path to his basement studio. Following up his ambitious 2004 debut, Rewind Tomorrow, Edwards returns with an album rich in songwriting skill. Similar to the Super Furry Animals or Yo La Tengo, experimentation with sound and musical style is the name of the game here. And like Brian Wilson or Jeff Lynne, there can never be enough harmony in OME's little corner of the world. Mark Edwards was a founding member of The Domo Sound, who gained national recognition when they appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien playing an Edwards original, "Motorboat, Accelerate."
Some guys in my high school heard me sing a Gilbert and Sullivan thing and asked me to try out with their rock band, “The Roots Of Evil”. This was 1965. After a while we fired Bruce, the guitar player, because he looked too young. It was a total asshole thing to do but it is the main reason I got into the blues. Frank joined the band, he almost had a moustache, and his brother was in the top local (Thanet, England) band, The RoJeans. Frank turned us on to John Mayall. The band became “Blind Lemon”. The other guys asked me to please stop singing falsetto trying to imitate John Mayall on “So Many Roads”. That’s about the sum total of what I knew about the blues, and I was fine with that. I was a Blues Guy. Now I am an Old Blues Guy. Once I accepted that idea, it grew around me like bark. It has been dawning upon me that there are many subjects to write sing blues about that few people do in a blues form. Living is hard. Even for white, privileged Americans like me, things come up. Somehow we manage to shut out war and genocide in Africa, starvation in Asia, global warming… and we worry about the little things, the things right in front of our faces. We get the blues about our refrigerators, our teenagers, the phone bill, what the neighbors think of our furniture…we even get the blues about our lawn. Admit it! These are good subjects for the blues. You can sing it out and away because you are recognizing it, celebrating it even. It seems like country music has corralled these day-to-day subjects that we all live with. I want to blow a little air up the blues’ skirt.
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