Announce Upcoming Album Steadman’s Wake via Black Park/Missing Piece Records
1986 Debut Darker Days Now Available On Digital Streaming Platforms For The First Time
Photo Credit: Bryan Regan
June 23, 2021: Today the long-standing (still standing mostly) Raleigh-based alt rock band The Connells are back after a 20 year long hiatus with the release of their new single “Really Great.” The group has also announced their upcoming album Steadman’s Wake, which is out on September 24 via Black Park/Missing Piece Records. The Connells have been teasing a new album for the past years, giving fans updates and occasionally playing new songs during shows and live streams. They’ve announced a run of summer US tour dates with tickets available this Friday.
“As it happens, ‘Really Great’ is one of the few songs that I’ve written totally in a major key,” says guitarist and vocalist Mike Connell, “which makes it seem brighter than most of the bands’ songs, which are in a minor key. The lyrics of the song are somewhat facetious or tongue-in-cheek, given that the situations described in the verses – ‘I’m in some never ending, mind-bending turnstile’ and ‘I’m in some thunder-clapping, soul-sapping whirlwind’ — are not ‘really great,’ at all, but are actually pretty dismal. This was an attempt at describing my take on what was going on in the world, between a global pandemic, and the fallout from that, as well as the political and social situation in this country. By the chorus, however, the prevailing mood or spirit of the song shifts when the singer begins to focus on the more personal and particular – going to see a friend, taking in the beauty of blue skies on a sunny day, some old favorite song rattling around in his head.”
Despite the two decades since their last recording, The Connells never quit performing, and Mike Connell never stopped writing songs. Steadman’s Wake features eight new songs and 3 re-recorded versions of previously-released demos which originally appeared on 2001’s Old-School Dropouts CD. This is the band’s first album to feature two newest members, guitarist Mike Ayers and drummer Rob Ladd (who have been in the lineup since 2002 and 2012, respectively), and the band’s first record with Mike Connell taking a prominent role as vocalist.
In addition to the album announcement and new single, The Connells also surprised fans today by releasing their 1986 debut album Darker Days on streaming platforms for the very first time. The record, which has been out of print since the 90’s, was released in a digital format for the first time in April when it was added to Bandcamp. Demos of the original album caught the eye of executives at Elvis Costello’s Demon Records, which later released Darker Days in the UK.
The Connells first formed in Chapel Hill at the University of North Carolina in 1984, debuting a year later with the song “Darker Days” on the Dolphin Records More Mondo Compilation, followed by their debut album Darker Days in 1986. Their 1987 Mitch Easter-produced album Boylan Heights established them as college-radio favorites, and they went on to work with producers including Gary Smith (Pixies, Billy Bragg), Hugh Jones (Echo & the Bunnymen, Modern English) and Lou Giordano (Goo Goo Dolls, Bob Mould) on subsequent albums. Three albums by The Connells have made the Billboard 200 charts in the United States, but their biggest commercial success came overseas in 1993 with “’74- ’75,” a pensive and moody ballad from their Ring LP which reached the top-10 in 11 European countries in 1995 (including No. 1 in Sweden, Norway and Germany).
Steadman’s Wake, their long awaited 9th album, was originally set for release in 2020 but was held up due to the pandemic, a hard delay for a band that has waited so long for this follow-up. Tickets for The Connells tour dates go on sale Friday, June 25.