Rhythm Affair – “The 37” – Single Review
Hey right on…we’ve had Rhythm Affair on our pages in the past, but never actually in a music review before, only previous video postings…this should be cool. All this time…nearly three years or so…and this is the first time I actually get the opportunity to really examine what’s been happening in this project as opposed to just write some kind of short posting about it…time to tell ya how I really feel!
First let’s get some announcements out of the way here…a word from our sponsor, so it seems…I’m supposed to tell you that: “Tulsa Flood and his band Rhythm Affair will be on tour with the Las Vegas Blue Circus.” Which is really why you never wanna suggest what a writer should write…it can get weird – but there you have it…if that’s info you feel like you needed to know, there you go, you’ve got it now.
I’ll start by saying this…Rhythm Affair has always been on the niche side of sound, and perhaps has been even more of an acquired taste when it comes to the gritty topics that Tulsa Flood and his band have chosen to write about. It ain’t music for the squeamish – you feel me? You can see from previous posts on the music of Rhythm Affair at our pages of songs like “Boulder Highway Hooker,” “Her Grave,” and most recently from a couple years back, on a single called “This Livens Up The Day” – this is not a band that has ever taken on the lighter side of what music has to offer so much as shroud itself comfortably in the darkness. I wouldn’t say it’s ever been the easiest stuff to listen to if I’m being honest with ya – but I have honestly always felt like they’ve created compelling tunes that explore what music can be in a much different way that the rest of the bands & artists out there tend to overall – make sense? You’re not likely going to find Tulsa & the band chillin’ in the Top 40 section if you catch my drift – that’s not what they aim for…they make a more sensory style of music, and usually write songs based on the darker side of what’s happening out there in this world we’re living in. Without apologies, love it or hate it, I can’t say that I’d imagine any one opinion including my own is ever really going to matter to Rhythm Affair…they’re gonna keep on keepin’ on & keepin’ it real AF regardless of whether or not we can handle what comes out of their creative methods & means…or at the very least, that’s been my theory on’em.
For what it’s worth however…I think there’s a solid chance that this is my favorite cut from Rhythm Affair so far. Truthfully, I was supposed to get a link to the backstory behind the song & whatnot that never actually came through with the details, only blank space where it was supposed to exist – but also truthfully, usually I prefer that anyway. Don’t get me wrong…it’s all well & good to write about what we know to be factual…but when songs or records are based upon concepts, it’s actually very rewarding for the creators to put the tunes out there, back away, and let the chips fall where they may. Will people ‘get it’ – because that’s what you REALLY wanna know, right? The only way to know for sure is to not spell it all out for the people listening…less can become more to the nth degree in that respect. Of course, not everyone out there is gonna willingly go down the rabbit-hole to see what they can find like I choose to…and I get that…but that’s what’s wrong with music-journalism altogether, not the bands and artists that choose to write their songs based on something we should, or could possibly, clue into. I’ll admit…I’m still not 100% sure that I DO know what “The 37” is all about for certain fact…but I do have my theories like I always do. Deduction & detection come into play – Rhythm Affair & Tulsa Flood aren’t about to start writing about joy, roses, and love-songs anytime soon…so that’s your first clue. Then we take that knowledge, cross it with the title itself, and realize that chances are, thirty seven people died somewhere in some kind of horrific way at some point. Then you watch the lyric video that comes with the new single…and while it won’t completely spell it out for you – you CAN see vague footage of mines & miners threaded into the background. Sprinkle in a little bit of Google…bake to 350 for approximately thirty minutes or so, and voila…I think we’ve got our answer – this is based on the true story of the thirty seven miners killed in the Robena Mine explosion in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, back on Dec. 6th, 1962.
How did I do? Not bad for a guy with no notes right?
It’s quite the crazy story really…”According to news accounts, the force of the explosion was so strong it knocked down men working underground more than two miles away.” 133 miners survive, and unfortunately, “The 37,” did not. That being said, this specific disaster is attributed to getting things moving when it came to strengthening much needed safety laws within the mines, and at long last, “on Dec. 30, 1969, Congress passed the Coal Mine Health & Safety Act.” Die for something, not for nothing; as gruesome as it all must have been, “The 37” is also the story behind some real life heroes for sure.
As a song itself…it’s pretty well thought-out and clever…the hooks run deep…the entire sound of the vocals even feels like it was recorded miles underground to give it that extra touch of authenticity. I really thought the addition of the backing vocals was great…love the eerie, winding tones of the slide guitar that bend the melody into shape on this song, and the main vocal hooks are also really strong here for Rhythm Affair as well. I’d be the last to tell ya that I get EVERYTHING that this song references…like…I’m super curious about the reference to the “one ten” that “drop back in” and what that might mean for example – I couldn’t figure that one out no matter how hard I clicked the buttons of my Google machine. So I am human after all, despite the rumors you’ve read…I don’t always figure everything out, and that’s OKAY – at the very least, I’m confident I can always say that I tried, and I usually get further than most ever will. We don’t need to get every single detail in order to enjoy something we’re checking out or listening to – more often than not, music speaks volumes on its own behalf anyway.
The real bottom line is, Rhythm Affair…Tulsa Flood…these folks are writing tunes that DO jar your soul or move your brainwaves…and probably both at the same time. I like songs that make me think…I like a good mystery…and I love a story that doesn’t always have the…hmmm…happiest of endings, so much as a genuinely real one that we can sink our teeth into. Stories with real depth – miner’s pun unintended. I felt like Rhythm Affair locked onto a really rad vibe here on “The 37” and once again unearthed a story that not everyone would know about, and shed some light on a tale worth telling through the darkness of their sound…it’s good to have them back in action and creating real art that means more than mere music tends to do…reflecting back our humanity, through a fractured lens that forces us to look closer.
Find out more about Rhythm Affair at their official website: https://rhythmaffair.net
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