:If you’re from the Southeast or went to college in the Southeast during the 1980s-1990s, then you should have at some time heard of, if not heard, The Connells.
They hail from Raleigh, NC, and I’ve driven there to see them, and have seen them in Charleston, SC many times. They’re spectacular, and the reason they never “exploded” across America is that their music isn’t mainstream enough for the common teen scene, and they never wrote for hits and hooks. They had some popularity with “74-75” in Norway and Sweden. Which is quite nice.
They paired up with Mitch Easter in the mid-’80s which led to Boylan Heights, an awesome album, of course. The Connells, being Irish, wrote “Over There” which has a Celtic lilt to it with the horns and is one of my favorites.
Their sound was not unlike several Southern bands that played Rickenbachers, such as REM. Their melodies and harmonies drew me in, which I found comparable to The Smiths with Morrisey singing in an opera. Jangly guitars. The lyrics often were dark like Morrisey’s, which when backed with a 1-4-5 chord progression and minor pentatonic scale made them familiar. All of these words describe what and who I like in music: Mitch Easter, REM, The South, The Smiths. So it’s no surprise I like The Connells so much as well.
But putting out a few good songs and calling it quits isn’t what cuts it with me. I can appreciate the songs, but that doesn’t mean the band is always special. The Connells are STILL touring, interacting with fans, and taking requests as to where and what to play (no Freebird) and they’re loving it. Their tone is as fresh as it was 30 years ago.
Here’s a quick playlist I put together for them, which really doesn’t do them justice. I’d recommend putting all their albums in your library. They sound as good today as they ever have.
There are only a handful of bands that still create incredible music everywhere they go, no matter what, that I’m familiar with. I’m sure if I lived in California or Michigan, it may be the same- I have no idea, and don’t want to find out.
But The Connells, The Blue Dogs, Jupiter Coyote, and Cowboy Mouth still are balls of energy that emit some of the best music ever made. Bob Weir still does it and always will. These men have music in their bones that perpetually is asking to be let out. It’s amazing to me. Relentless.
They seem to be most active around their Facebook Page and various groups. Check them out!