First Appeared in The Music Box, July 1999, Volume 6, #7
Written by John Metzger
The circumstances surrounding this release from singer Simon Steadman may well be the wave of the future. He was the unfortunate victim of a restructuring at Arista Records, and like many other artists, he quickly found himself without a label. Whether it's right or wrong, it's something that happens, and all you can do as an artist is pick up the pieces and move forward. Smaller labels are already licking their chops at some of the artists that have already been released, while others, like Steadman, have decided to venture out with their own labels, utilizing the vast resources of the Internet as a marketing vehicle.
Before being released from Arista, Steadman was the leader of The Dharmas, one of the hottest bands on the British festival circuit, and his first and only album for the label was recorded at Peter Gabriel's "Real World" studios. While that may be a far cry from the farm building where Loser Friendly was recorded, Steadman uses the experience as inspiration and his music as therapy to liberate himself from the past.
There's a certain amount of bitterness contained in Steadman's lyrics that at first glance might be about a lover, but could just as easily be about his relationship with Arista. On songs like Cut Me Loose and Let Down, guitars and strings collide in a swirling whirlwind of anger, which adds a power pop punch to Steadman's vocals that at times approaches the fury of Jane's Addiction.
No Big Deal opens with a bluesy acoustic guitar riff that sets a mood of sadness and insecurity before the song blooms into a soaring rock ‘n' roll anthem. The song eventually fades into a beautiful string arrangement that connects it with stml (which stands for short-term memory loss).
As we've proven time and time again, there's a lot of great music being made by bands that remain unsigned. Even those that are with a major label don't necessarily get the attention and promotional benefits that they deserve. It just may be to Steadman's benefit that he was forced into his current situation. To his credit he has jumped in with both feet, utilizing a brand-new medium to market Loser Friendly, a remarkable album filled with powerful songs and memorable melodies. It remains to be seen just how the Internet will affect the music business, but if the major labels don't watch out, they may very well find themselves in trouble as more artists and smaller labels band together and begin to march to their own beat.
Loser Friendly is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 1999 The Music Box