It would appear that the aspirations of musicians have shifted somewhat in recent years. Not long ago (alright, quite a while ago) it was every wannabe’s dream to be on Top Of The Pops (just not a Savile week thanks), go on tour, and accumulate a mass of stories relating to sex, drugs and Rock n Roll.
These days, if you’re a breathy singer songwriter armed with a uke, an accordion, and a heart full of faux grief, there’s a John Lewis/M&S/Sainsbury’s ad waiting just for you. Just so long as you sing a classic in an acoustic style and drain it of every sense of emotion, you’ll be made up.
If that’s not your style, don’t despair, there’s a market for you. Take this example which attempts to drum up excitement for Browlin aka Oliver Brown:
“I was wondering if you might be interested in a story on my new client…his latest video is now playing in Topman and making waves up and down the country!”
Playing the Budokan, Carnegie Hall, Hammersmith Odeon, Long Beach Arena were all reasonable dreams to have. If you had a video, Top Of The Pops or MTV were the way to go. Now of course there’s no actual music on MTV, so the options there are limited and the best you can hope for is a fuckload of views on YouTube. Being routinely played in Topshop is not, as far as I’m aware, a goal that has ever been mentioned by any musician in any interview, or written in a secret Ian Hunter style diary ever.
“Where do you see yourself in five years?”
“Well, at the moment, I’m playing in men’s fashion, I’d like to corner the lingerie market, and maybe take a shot at GAP. I’d like to make waves up and down the country, but mainly in clothes shops. Then make the jump to top end department stores.”
What’s stranger is that Browlin actually has quite a pedigree. He’s in possession of Gold and Platinum discs and he was engineer and studio manager at Skint, home of Fatboy Slim. Quite why Topshop is such a big deal is anyone’s guess, but maybe this is the way that musicians break these days. No longer is working in a shoe shop a possible alternative career for a musician (although Nigel Tufnel would still like to know what the hours are) it’s almost part of the deal.
But hey, maybe this tune is amazing, it’s not as if it’s being played in Primark and TK Maxx.
All My Days attempts a crossover of sorts with its Nathaniel Rateliff soul style vocal, country twang and bizarre pipe solo. It’s fairly straight-forward fare though, and offers few surprises. Vocally he’s got a gravelly tone, but it’s not quite dirty or weathered enough to make an impact. He’s the morphine to Mark Lanegan’s full skag hit. However, it’s impossible to take seriously after the first verse on account of his appalling lyrics.
“I wrote you a letter”
That’s nice. It’s always nice to get a letter isn’t it?
“I hope you saw”
No, not yet, where did you put it?
“I left it by – your front door”
I have a letter box, couldn’t you have put it through that? Or you could have put it in the mail like a normal person.
“I could not stay, I could not lie”
Or post a fucking letter properly apparently.
“So the words are true – they say goodbye “
That’s not a letter, it’s a note. You could fit that on a post it. Also, “goodbye” is one word. Get to fuck.
Should Browlin ever find himself working in Topshop, let’s hope he’s never allowed to do stocktaking (poor with numbers) or have anything to do with correspondence (incapable of posting a letter).
Still, the flute solo almost saves it, but for some reason, in the video it’s coupled to a soldier smoking a peace pipe with a Native American, giving the whole thing the feel of a whacky, 1970s sketch show that doesn’t know any better (or perhaps does).
Tastemakers (ahem) love it though.
“I’m loving this” says the grammatically stunted Huw Stephens
“Really love this” imparts rentaquote Stuart Maconie, a man impossible to trust about anything these days.
“Get your ears round this! Love the sound!” Sean Keaveny, telling you all you should know.
What the fuck is a tastemaker anyway? And who listens to the likes of Keaveny, Maconie, and Zoe Ball for top tips on new sounds? What do I know though? I don’t even go to Topshop to discover new music.