Soft Rock is Back With a Mellow Vengeance
Three spots in the top ten of this week's U.K. singles chart are heavily influenced by the likes of Bread and Air Supply.
Los Angeles band Orson has the #2 single, "No Tomorrow". Their singer now declares himself "unabashedly a giant supporter of Hall and Oates, Steely Dan and the Eagles". Still, Orson only tried mellow rock after the world said "I can't go for that!" to a Radiohead-influenced Orson and a "How you like us as The Strokes?" Orson. The version of Orson whose singer says things like, "I think squareness is coming back in" will tour the UK this May and June, at last having found a sound that works for them.
At #8 on the singles chart is Meck feat. Leo Sayer's dance song "Thunder In My Heart Again" which samples ELO, Gallagher and Lyle, and Elton John.
One spot down is The Feeling's "Sewn". Their singer Dan Gillespie-Sells says his "massive record collection" is "all naff pop music. That's what interests me." The Guardian, messengers of the news about 70s soft rock, say The Feeling are "one of Britain's most hotly tipped new bands." The song is awfully mild coming from a hot band. But we are living in harsh times, and perhaps people need the aural equivalent of an exceptionally soft blanket to make them feel safe and cozy. Like the lyrics of "Sewn" say, "You stop the blood and make my head soft." If you think that's a good thing, The Feeling may be the band for you!
You can listen to some of their songs on The Feeling's website. They will also give you access to three live tracks if you sign up for their mailing list, which signs you up for unrelated spam as well, with the opportunity to opt out of it later. Not necessarily the greatest way to treat your fans, but go easy on them; their singer's head is soft from love.
DJ Sean Rowley drew a crowd of 1,600 people to a "Guilty Pleasures" themed club night in London, featuring music from 70s artists such as Christopher Cross and the Captain and Tenille. Other Guilty Pleasure nights have followed and a compilation album is planned. Rowley notes that past 70s-inspired artists, such as Zoot Woman ("They were like a Hall-and-Oates tribute act") did not meet with much success.
So why all the love for the current wave of lite-rockers? David Balfour of Record of the Day, the site that The Guardian says "first brought Orson to the British music industry's notice", thinks it's a matter of the public wanting something different. He says, "The edgy rock thing has gone round and round in circles for so long that people are looking for something new, something that's going to introduce you to music you haven't heard before."
It's a soft backlash then, is it? That's what you get for buying all those Strokes and Kaiser Chiefs albums. It's all fun and games now, but if you tolerate this, a disco revival is next.
Meck feat. Leo Sayer - Thunder In My Heart Again (Miami Calling Mix) (from the "Thunder In My Heart Again" single)
Christopher Cross - Ride Like The Wind (from The Very Best Of Christopher Cross)
Chicago - Saturday In The Park (from The Very Best Of Chicago)
Zoot Woman - Hope In The Mirror (hey, this is kinda awesome... from Zoot Woman)
Hall and Oates - Family Man (from Starting All Over Again)