Thursday, January 28th, 2016

Coleman Hell – 2 Heads

Cut off one head, two grow back…


Will Adams: What I wrote a month ago remains true: pop music continues to compost every PR- and radio-vetted genre into aural mulch that could sound appropriate for as many situations and syncs as possible but mostly sounds like nothing. Flashes in the pan that acts like Andy Grammer and Milky Chance may have been, there’s always some “fresh” newcomer lurking around with one of these everything-but-nothing tunes; now it’s this shitpile of a song’s turn. Never mind Coleman Hell yowling some vague devotional bullshit, the production on “2 Heads” is a nightmare to listen to, a multi-headed beast of poor decisions that are never committed to. Garish banjo flutters in only to fall into a lazy lo-pass filter, synth pulse lightly suggests house before kowtowing to a Rednex drop, and live drums bumble around, scattered in the stereo field and way too loud in the mix. This is the kind of music that gets tucked into a variety of curated playlists, flying enough under the radar that even sharp listeners will miss that it’s fucking terrible, and the cycle will continue.

Katherine St Asaph: POLL: Is Coleman Hell: A) noun, large congregation of last-name-first-named bros: “I’m heading out, this place is Coleman hell.”? B) The echo of Shawn Hook, who was the echo of Shawn Mendes, in a long unending chain of echoes of Adult Hits? C) Being very generous with that [2]?

Edward Okulicz: Coleman Hell isn’t real. He’s like a straw-artist. Listen! His voice is actually a composite created by a computer and he’s… wait.. it’s doing a Sting impression during the chorus. This is a spectacularly ugly sounding record whose basic beats, cheap synth string presets and “country” “instruments” don’t work together at all. 

W.B. Swygart: You know that one friend you have, who’ll sometimes get really, really drunk, and they’ll very excitedly start telling you something they’ve realised that they think is really very important for you to hear, but their sentence fizzles out midway through, so they start telling you again, then fizzle out again, then start again, and this happens like six or seven times in the space of one evening? Well, now they have a banjo!

Cassy Gress: I had a 2 1/2 octave Yamaha keyboard when I was 8 that had a very similar banjo sound to this, and the fact that it’s so clearly a synthetic (or at least heavily processed) banjo sound is very distracting. The melody on “I turn to you / you’re all I see” reminds me strongly of the chorus on “Suddenly I See”, and he sounds like his singing tempo is just a tiny bit fast on the line “if only I could live forever.” If I sound nitpicky, it’s because this song didn’t inspire me to bop my head, grimace, laugh, wonder, roll my eyes, or do much of anything. I wiggled my toe a little, I think.

Alfred Soto: Well, he shouts a lot over piano and banjo, mewls if you want him to, and for remix potential the beats rise to the obvious climax. In short he realizes his moniker.

Scott Mildenhall: Why does this not burst into “Witch Doctor” like it patently should? (The Cartoons’ version, of course.) Coleman Hell’s preference for self-seriousness makes it more silly than that would in any case, contributing to a reasonable approximation of what might have happened had Alex Clare grown up listening to country. The semi-bosh is at least more interesting than the Lost Frequencies technique; coherent pronoun use might have been too much to hope for on top.

Megan Harrington: Earlier this week I read Dan Wilson’s thoughts on John Seabrook’s The Song Machine. I haven’t read anything in favor of the book, and Wilson’s is one of the more emotionally charged negative stances I’ve come across — rightfully so, since the book sort of attempts to break his livelihood down to parts. What grates Wilson is an idea Seabrook traces: pop music grew meaningless through the domination of a Swedish powerhouse songwriter-producer who favors melodic syllables over meaningful lyrics. Seabrook’s narrative moves from instant disgust to grudging respect. Wilson is horrified. I don’t think there’s much more to “2 Heads,” lyrically, than there is to “Right Round” but there’s an added component of instability in its unclassifiable genre. Coleman Hell isn’t a country artist, but he’s willing to lean heavily on those tropes — not to connect with any country fans open to pop persuasion, but to conjure up an atmosphere. This isn’t a case of rap becoming pop music through mainstream success and crossover hits, this is window dressing. And I guess, though I like a potentially meaningless word salad, it strikes me as crass to paste a little bit of everything to your production. Coleman Hell is a massive cipher, not so much an artist or performer or even a talent as what’s cobbled together from all the useless scraps. He’s the petroleum jelly of the music industry’s oil farming. 

Brad Shoup: What a terrible stepdad.

Reader average: [2] (3 votes)

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7 Responses to “Coleman Hell – 2 Heads”

  1. These blurbs are all amazing, especially Megan’s. (though as someone who doesn’t have as much knowledge about the music industry as I probably should, I liked the Song Machine!)

  2. I probably should have given this a lower score, not for fitting-in reasons, but because I was like “I feel nothing and therefore should give it a thoroughly middley score”. Probably feeling nothing means bad score. Oh well

  3. read the dan wilson piece, it’s puzzling — like, matching vowels to melodies has been a thing far before whatever song machine you want to imagine existed.

  4. i often give feeling nothing songs a 5, sometimes even higher than a 5. my assumption is that for any song, there is someone who loves it a lot and i’m usually trying to write to that person. sometimes I also think a song is TRYING to make me feel nothing so i award points based on its success or failure (this song seems like an example of that.) i’m also a chronic over-scorer, so take that with a grain of salt! the bottom line, I guess, is that scoring is a real finesse art and you’ll fine tune your approach. frankly, i think it’s great that you represented the “meh [5]” listener here!

  5. :)

  6. yes, thanks for the Wilson link, Megan. what a bummer of a read

  7. I’m with Megan. I haven’t given a 10 in years and only a few 0s.