THOMAS McCONNELL – Songs To Make Your Boots Sizzle (No Label)

Thomas McConnell is a 23-year-old singer/ songwriter, Liverpool-born and Newcastle-bred, who I would never have heard of had not a friend of mine happened across his music on Facebook. At first he was expecting the usual introspective indie twaddle that young songwriters sometimes come up with, but apparently he was blown away with what he heard and emailed me to give him a try. I listened to his songs on Soundcloud and I too was amazed that so young a singer had decided to go for a very 60’s psychedelic pop sound. Not only that but he pulls it off superbly, with the songs sounding both modern and retro at the same time. Obviously a huge Beatles fan, but also taking in other 60’s bands such as The Kinks and Small Faces, he has written enough songs to make an EP, but he has put them out on Soundcloud so that anyone can listen to them, and then download them if they like what they hear. ‘Stop In The Shade’ is classic Beatles, from the vocal and melody, to the backing vocals and catchy tune – but this is no mere rip-off, as the song is all McConnell’s, with The Beatles being used as an influence and not a template. ‘Penelope Definitely’ is even better, with a sublime melody which you almost feel you have known all your life. Everything about this song is pure class, and if he wants to release a single then it has to be this song. ‘Lonely Mr Bigshot’ is something different altogether, with the downbeat lyrics emphasised by the weeping tone of the guitar fills which subtly emphasise the sadness of the song. ‘It’s Johnny’s Birthday’ is a contradictory little song – Johnny’s birthday should be a happy day, but it sounds like it is the most depressing time of his life! ‘Chocolate Window’ is where McConnell get the chance to show that he can rock out as well as being a master of subtle melodies, with some fine guitar and organ-work in the middle section. It is all driven along by a pumping bassline, and the spacey effects at the end bring out the psychedelic undertones of the track. ‘So Long, Souvenirs’ is another highlight of the EP, with ‘Strawberry Fields’-influenced keyboards and the most McCartneyest of vocals, this is the song that you really could think was a lost gem from the Fabs psychedelic period. ‘Got No Feet, Got No Wheat, Got No Eggs’ is two and a half minutes of guitar and vocal overload, ending the EP with McConnell’s heaviest, most overtly psychedelic track – from the out-there lyrics to the weird organ effects, this tracks closes the EP in real style. So, a name you have probably not heard of, but if there is any justice in the music biz (not much hope there, then) it’s a name you should start seeing much more often in the coming year. Check out his Soundcloud page (link on the left) and hear for yourself, and when he is releasing his third or fourth album you can say you were there at the beginning.