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Connections - Cool Change

Connections - Cool Change

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Before ALL OF THIS Connections needed…

Cool Change.

Then ALL OF THIS happened, things slowed down, things got weird, the world split in half, things like this should never happen. Now more than ever we need…

Cool Change.

Before Cool Change, Connections’ long history is storied. From the North Dayton suburbs, J.P. Herrmann, along with songwriter Andy Hampel and vocalist Kevin Elliott, helmed the late-90s outfit 84 Nash for an equally long run. As the first band signed to Robert Pollard’s Rockathon Records, 84 Nash existed alongside Ohio rock royalty, in bands like GBV, the Breeders, and Brainiac. In migrating to Columbus, they absorbed that city’s deep lineage and slightly skewed counterculture – from Gaunt and V-3, to the weirdos in charge, namely Mike Rep and Ron House. Nash broke up, took a break, but after that respite, Hampel and Elliott created Connections with Times New Viking’s Adam Elliott on drums, and bassist Philip Kim.

Along the way, they evolved, soon adding two other Columbus vets, drummer Michael P. O’Shaughnessy and guitarist Dave Capaldi, both of another local freakshow, El Jesus De Magico.

In a prolific streak, they recorded and released four spot-perfect pop albums for Anyway Records, before signing on with Chicago’s Trouble in Mind. 2018 brought their debut for TIM, 'Foreign Affairs', an album that saw them expanding – on some songs mellowing out and on others ramping things up. Connections' brand of indie rock definitely has one foot in “The Nineties” but maintains a classicist's penchant for nuanced & timeless rock'n'roll. Many songs use classic pop structures but subvert them with a clever melodic twist, a bonkers twin-guitar solo or unexpected synth squiggle underneath.

In the “before” times, before ALL OF THIS, Connections assembled to make Cool Change, their sixth LP, reconnecting with Herrmann, who has joined as guitarist and keyboardist, at his studio, the long-revered Center for Japanese Helium. The balance held.

Cool Change is being released in the last year of the first decade of Connections. Why shouldn’t it be full of brighter, sharper, hooks of suburban pop? There’s the perpetual new-wave nautilus of the grand opener “In Space,” the greebo-groove of “It’s a Start,” the call-and-response call-to-arms of “Bird Has Flown,” the razor-sharp riffage in “Lorraine,” the ramshackle overdrive of “Vacationland,” and the lilting bespoke love puzzles in “California Raisins.” Hampel’s songs are both deceptive and obvious, filled with ego and humility. They are hyper-regional and universal. These songs want basements, and grandstands, and the occasional festival – of course, when ALL OF THIS is good. There are plans to take this – now sonically bolstered – show on the road.

Those songs were written as an exercise as a breakup album though there was no relationship currently active to break up. A fantasy of a life not currently being lived or necessarily wanted. Good or bad.

Post-ALL OF THIS malaise. Connections are in constant motion (there’s more where this came from), but the moment calls for Cool Change. Listen to the moment.

Cool Change.

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