Various Cruelties, Tabloid, A Viral Track and 'Nothing That I'm Scared Of'
Words: Linn Branson
I make no apologies here for my unreserved love of this track - Liam O'Donnell's (Various Cruelties) 'Nothing That I'm Scared Of'. Nothing is better than being capitivated by something on first listen, which was the case here, with its catchy tune, soulful vocals and lines like "I know you used to be a user/but I don't really care/If we think about it too much/it'll confuse us/til the very end.../This ain't a sequel/this is a finale". What has been even more heart-glowing is seeing it steadily increase in Soundcloud plays - literally going up in double figure counts every half-hour. Of course, we may have helped push it slightly, but only by talking about it, which is the point isn't it?
So, let's turn the clock back. Having been steadily grooving out for the last weeks to the mystery that is Tabloid and the uploaded 'Voyeur' track, I tweeted a link and asked whether this un-named artist could be Various Cruelties' Liam O'Donnell.
A month or so ago the track - see below - was uploaded to Soundcloud by the unknown 'Tabloid', with only an OK magazine picture profile. Who is it? Well, we don't know, but the intrigue has certainly got bloggers blogging and people playing the track in their thousands.
Then last Thursday, Liam O'Donnell, better known as Various Cruelties, quietly uploaded a track under his own name to Soundcloud. Having questioned on Twitter whether the Tabloid vocalist was indeed Mr O'Donnell - as there certainly seemed a familiarity between the two - and having several people then agree that it could well be, I was then tweeted by someone (who it is believed is related to Liam, or if not, is a very serious stalker!) asking had I heard this new Liam track. At the time, just a couple of hours after it had been uploaded, it had received no more than a handful of plays, but I liked it enough to make a rush adjustment to the weekly Hot Top Ten going out at midnight in order to include it.
Over the subsequent 24 hours, there was still - strangely, perhaps - no word from Liam himself about it. His Twitter feed included no mention; his Facebook likewise, made no reference - even his website's only recent remarks were to refer to his time in LA, the purchase of a pair of LA Lakers lounge pants (below) and a rather nice phone shot (see top).
His only other recent recording was back in August on the Felix Snow track 'This Pool Party Feels Like A Funeral', whereon he is credited with vocals and writing, alongside Snow's production/writing.
With no publicising from the owner of the track, we set out to try a little experiment to see just how far it could go on nothing more than a bit of blogging, tweeting and being talked about; out of no more than curiosity of how something could go viral - or whether this indeed could. Now I am not saying we were the only ones, but I think it can be safely said we put in a fair effort. As it stands at the present time of posting, the tally of Soundcloud plays is at 4831 - and still increasing in double figures every couple of hours. That is in just 5 days.
And the word from Liam O'Donnell himself? Remaining quiet and suitably coy, is probably the best description. However, from what he told me on Saturday, this is one of several tracks he has been working on (seemingly under his own name rather than that of Various Cruelties) and we could well see something - EP? - materialising before Christmas. After his extended stay in the US, he also appears to be hopping back to his native shores next month too.
And in answer to the pointed question "Are you Tabloid?", the response? A winking emoticon.
Various Cruelties is largely the project of Liam O’Donnell. He chose the stage name Various Cruelties after seeing a painting of the same name by American artist Ed Ruscha. After moving to London in 2010, O’Donnell decided against performing as a solo artist and began to assemble the band that would become the current incarnation of Various Cruelties. He met Beanie Bhebhe (vocals/bass/beats), Adam Coney (guitar/vocals) and Dean Valentine (drums) in London in September 2010, and in December they played their first show, supporting The Vaccines. By May of 2011, Various Cruelties had recorded and self-released two singles, 'If It Wasn't For You' and 'Neon Truth'. By the end of the year, they’d performed on Later... with Jools Holland. Their debut album was recorded in Los Angeles with producer Tony Hoffer and released in October 2012, and also included the original recording of 'If It Wasn’t For You', which was used in a December 2012 North American holiday campaign for Zales Jewelry. The band have continued to tour in the United Kingdom since the release of the album, and embarked on their first US tour in February, 2013.