See: Howdy, pardner; Novelty Island takes a breezy, bluegrass psych-pop trip in ‘Cowboy On A Bicycle’, with three shows next month

Thomas McConnell, aka Novelty Island, photographed by Frankie Tibbles

YEP. Yep. You’ve swooned for the baroque-pop, early-Seventies’ auteur styles of Strawberry Guy. Of course you have. Why ever not? The minute you walked in the joint I could tell you were a being of consummate taste. You’ve got a taste for one-man pop visionaries from the north-west, haven’t you? Hungering to explore more?

This way, if you would. Novelty Island is the avatar in songcraft of Mersey musician Thomas McConnell and we last popped by for a cuppa in June when he unveiled the baroque pop beauty of “Listen”, a tune which would’ve felt at home on George Harrison’s Living In The Material World with ease.

He quickly double-tapped, as is a musical marksman’s style, with the shreddy pop melodies of “Michael Afternoon” and “This Bird”, playing with the layers of the glass onion. There was even a single to consort his debut album, How Are You Coping With This Century? out into the world: “Blackcurrant Sky”, a lilt of melancholy piano and multi-tracking and bliss beyond the calico wall. Gear.

Each and every one came blessed with a self-performed, filmed, and generally lovingly made video courtesy Tom himself. 

He’s got one further single delight as the sun gets all sleepy and turns down the covers on 2021, AD: that’s “Cowboy On A Bicycle”, which sees Tom take his Raleigh Grifter out for a whizz around the streets where Liverpudlian pop nous intersect with a good ol’ Sefton Park bluegrass convocation; alchemises of it breezy indie gold. The video’s just down yonder, la. Have a watch.

Thomas says it’s “about cowboys, disagreeable volcanos and fried eggs … [it] was inspired by Breaking Bad and the North Wales countryside.” 

Out beyond Abergele, you say? Yep: Thomas took to the hills and valleys of Wales at the end of 2020, drifting in and out of the picturesque, fog-enveloped damp and conjuring up words inspired by the Yellow Pages, the dramatic vistas of The Horseshoe Pass and the crack-cooking rake’s descent of Walter White in a Breaking Bad binge (really, is there any other way to watch it?). The result: this fine, off-the-wall tune concerning loss of control, warped reality and a cowboy and his mistreated horse.

The single comes with a free, Bandcamp-only B-side, a well-chosen cover of Badfinger’s “Baby Blue”

Hang on, whoah! Before you make haste over there, Novelty Island is available for live dissemination across a trio of dates supporting The Pale White next month, those dates being as follows:  

Saturday, December 4th, The Boiler Shop, Newcastle;
Saturday, December 11th, Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, and
Sunday, December 12th, The Key Club, Leeds.

Novelty Island’s How Are You Coping With This Century? is out now digitally, on CD and on vinyl via Think Like A Key Music; to order yours, get yourself across to Bandcamp.

Connect with Novelty Island elsewhere online at his official website, on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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