Street Sounds: Thunderclap!: Hellbent on Success is weirdly wonderful

Ontario-based singer/songwriter, Thunderclap is a voice in the wilderness. He’s on the fringe and sings loud and clear about it.

Ontario-based singer/songwriter, Thunderclap is a voice in the wilderness. He’s on the fringe and sings loud and clear about it.

Thunderclap has the spirit of a vaudevillian and his album, Hellbent on Success, has an unbridled comedic strain of expression that runs through it.

Hellbent on Success wallows in weirdness and celebrates its lack of conventional signposts.

Thunderclap’s voice is strong with a pronounced operatic quality that hints at over-the-top mannerisms but rarely goes there. It’s a put-on, theatrical voice that can be part carnival barker, saloon singer or down-at-the-heels tenor.

Thunderclap’s songs perversely beg for a label, so let’s call it eccentro-rock. Some similarities are heard in past songs by Richard Harris (MacArthur Park) or Herman’s Hermits (Henry the Eighth) or strange songs like Needles and Pins.  Thunderclap’s music is similar in effect to Captain Beefheart or Frank Zappa where it’s unclear what is novelty or craziness or parody.

A kindred contemporary is fellow Canuck, Hawksley Workman. Both singers share the same carefree individuality and are unclassifiable. Also, having left-field singers like Mary Margaret O’Hara on board doesn’t clear the situation. Her contribution to The Hitmaker is spoken word silliness.  Like all of the album, it’s assumed that the tongue is in the cheek.

The songs and production (by Spooky Ruben of Feist and Keisha fame) have elements of Rocky Horror Picture Show drama and kitsch. It’s like listening to music from some 1950s’ carnival funhouse. There is lots of abstraction or distraction. The talent and charm of Thunderclap’s voice is clear and if some of the instrumentation was pared down, the songs would translate stronger.

Hellbent on Success is a celebration of eccentricity and freeform expression and Thunderclap is a singular talent who is wonderfully warped.

Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon-based musician who reviews the latest music releases for The Morning Star.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Lake Country mine makes way for industrial project

Council holds a special meeting to rezone property

Water floods Vernon skate park, playground

Polson Park remains closed following Tuesday storms

Lumby man gives back for Canada Day

Food packages given away to those living on the streets in Vernon

Fond farewell to retiring Vernon teachers

Special socially-distant ceremony thanks St. James teachers

Exploring the BX Ranch Trail near Vernon

There’s a new trail in town waiting for you to check out!… Continue reading

‘This year is unlike any other’: Trudeau delivers Canada day address

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and the Prime Minister release video celebrating the national holiday

Dog rescued from rocky ledge in Summerland

Penticton Search and Rescue members perform high angle rescue

PHOTOS: Dual rallies take over Legislature lawn on Canada Day

Resist Canada 153 highlighted colonization and genocide, Unify the People called COVID a hoax

Gov. General honours Canadians for bravery, volunteer service

Five categories of winners presented on Canada Day

COVID-19: Should non-medical masks be mandatory in Canada?

New poll shows Canadians are divided on the rules around mandatory masks

In photos and video: Colourful Canada Day parade rolls through Sicamous

Patriotic procession allows community to celebrate together while maintaining distance

Northbound lane of Coquihalla closed after vehicle incident near Hope

A northbound lane is closed just north of the Great Bear Snowshed, according to DriveBC

Two rescued from tipped sailboat in Okanagan Lake near Kelowna

The two men were quickly brought to shore by a marine rescue crew

Most Read