Week: 06 of 52 (7 February - 13 February)
Prepare yourself for another sparkling edition of OUTSIDELEFT’s wildly popular Week in Music where its best and brightest spurt out reviews of this past week's new music at about 100 words a pop. Easy reading -- perfect for those moments when you’re waiting for the traffic light to turn green. Onward! --Spanish Pantalones
“Big Bang” sounds big for Clementine Creevy. Her eight-year-old Cherry Glazerr has produced four albums with modest indie trappings we're all familiar with: tinny guitars, snare-y drums, and chirpy girlish vocals. Listen to “Cry Baby” on the band’s 2014 Haxel Princess: that’s the Cherry Glazerr I’m familiar with. “Big Bang” is far more mature: thick synths, rolling bass drums, and mature vocals. The single’s cover art is really pushing the new Cherry Glazerr, too -- as the philistines say, sex sells. Creevy has yet to announce a forthcoming LP, but “Big Bang” lets you know what it’ll probably sound like. --Alarcon
As someone who tries to avoid contact with anything that mentions the Royal Family, it came as a surprise when I had to acknowledge that my most played track of 2019 was called ‘Magic of Meghan.’
It featured on the debut EP ('Sweet Princess' - not actually about Meghan), by Dry Cleaning. Vocalist Florence Shaw didn't actually sing above the post-punk sound of her bandmates but delivered internal monologues, minor agitations, the cutting and pasting together of bizarre online comments and advertising copy. 'Magic of Meghan' was just one indication of how sharp and sardonic they are. None of that 'Queen is Dead' didactic fluff, you need to get a little more involved here. They soon became my favourite new band.
Two years on and 'Strong Feelings' is the fabulous second single to be taken from their forthcoming New Long Legs album. Lyrically we move from the tale of 'a dead emo stuff collector' to a description of the anamorphic at the base Hans Holbein's celebrated painting 'The Ambassadors.' None of this seems out of place! With John Parish, long-time collaborator of PJ Harvey adding spacious production, this is the beginning of a great adventure. -- Jason Lewis
Anarchy in the UK
Just as the writers at Smash Hits had to declare an interest when former scribe Neil Tennant formed Pet Shop Boy, so I must admit that I know the Ancient Champion. I’ve even worked with him and, although ‘fan’ May be too much of a strong word, I do like his stuff.
Carrying on the tenuous Neil Tennant comparison, I’m not sure what the Smash Hits scribblers may have said if their former had ever chosen to make a radical reinterpretation of the Sex Pistol's snarling calling card. But that’s what AC has now done and here I am reviewing it.
It’s a stark reimagining that upends the seminal punk single and turns it into AC’s unique sub genre of ‘easy listening for difficult people’. Imagine Johnny Rotten’s rant retold as a melancholy organ drone. This is the sadness of modern Britain of 45 years after that call to arms captured in a two and a half minute lament. -- Jason Lewis
KINGS OF LEON
A new single from Kings of Leon? I could have sworn they quit years ago when one of them succumbed to the strains of the rawknroll lifestyle. Wasn’t it the lead singer? Caleb Followill? At a 2011 Dallas concert, Followill huffed off the stage so he could "vomit" and "drink a beer." Charming. This Spinal Tap-esque slice of prima donna excess prompted a tour cancellation attributed to good old-fashioned "exhaustion." I thought Kings of Leon quietly dissolved after that. A quick peep at Wikipedia proves that they released two albums since Followill meltdown and they’re dropping one more -- When You See Yourself -- this March 5th; “Echoing” is its lead-off single. The single is redundant, and riddled with cliches, but I’ll stop there. I’m far more excited in listening to the surprise release by Liz Phair (an ode to Lou Reed!). --Spanish Pantalones
Just as Lamontpaul yelled “Last call!” for this week’s record reviews before he mashed the publish button, I found “Hey Lou,” the latest single from Liz Phair’s forthcoming studio album Soberish. Imagine my delight and surprise when I gave it a quick listen and was hit by a short right-handed jab of a song about Lou Reed, his wife Laurie Anderson. It’s a little more overproduced than I like my Phair -- I can do without the strings, but the world is not ready to revert back to the analog days of lo-fi. That said, Phair recently announced that she’d been working on new studio material with Brad Wood, the producer behind Exile in Guyville. Glory be! --Alarcon
(Kill Rock Stars)
TEKE::TEKE brings attitude -- yeah lots of attitude -- and some great powerful drums to drive “Meikyu,” the first single from their forthcoming Kill Rock Stars LP Shirushi forward. Uncertain about the whereabouts of the claimed jazz tinges, and Brazilian psychedelic rock as an influence... hmmmm not according to my Brazilian psychedelic various artists cd. That said. I love Meikyu, the passion and the changes within the song. I hope they can make it over here so that I can see them live soon. I’m looking forward to the full length in May. TEKE::TEKE are a band with hidden talents for me. --Toon Traveler
Live and Let Live
(Thousand Island Records)
I thought the Drones were a ‘70s Manchester punk band managed by Paul Morley? I was confused then that these guys looked so young... Anyway, I am so very tired of fast guitar fast rock, but this is better than a lot of bands heard on Radio Newcastle's new music programme, (an occasional listen). Lots of energy, and someone approaching the receipt of their first bus pass, it's probably a recommendation that. Look though, Drones, I'm not keen, I like the guitars fast and furious, the shouted vocals are angry, and the music matches that, and I’d bet they have a good live show, where there are live shows, lots of stage stalking, lots of bouncing in the Mosh pit. If you want an energetic work out, this might be for you. --Toon Traveler
GAL GO GREY
(Good Question Records)
Wow, what a great start to a snow swept and occasionally sun-kissed day, love the wandering Sax, strident, commanding attention, but wavy, think trees in a summer storm, the rhyme, paced and wandering, I love the playing, the whole thing has a transcendental feel, could great slice of relaxing music. This would be one of those tracks: home after work, change clothes, shower and chill out, relax, and float on the wind of the music. Eagles on the wind, kites in the air, this piece is a delight, just the right mix of sax domination, and an almost drone style of music underpinning the whole piece. This is a piece that really does deserve a listen, especially on these snow-bound, lockdown days. Play, sip coffee, relax and float on the sound waves. -- Toon Traveler
The new single from Island, "Octopus," shimmers with harmonics and centers on a simple hook which repeats through the track. The video, shot at the seaside, shows the band performing domestic duties on the beach, while the lyrics talk about rebellious youth and our slow drift into maturity. The lyrics talk of our need for stories, and the conflict between being normal and being interesting. Like an octopus that changes its skin and shape to match its surroundings, the song settles into its own space. Island's first album "Feels Like Air" saw them lauded as an important new act. Octopus is out now on FrenchKiss Records and the video is just below this sentence. --John Robinson
How Many Times
(Father/Daughter Full Time Hobby)
Alt-Country greatness from an OUTSIDELEFT favorite, Esther Rose, with the release of the title track from her forthcoming LP, How Many Times, her first with the UK label, Full Time Hobby. Standing in the shower til the heat runs out… Esther Rose’s slight, superable moments awash in just oh so authentic country twanging tones and sung, in a hundred year old voice. The devil is in her details. Love this… --Ancient Champion
Forwards Beckon Rebound
From last years’ Songs LP, and now accompanied by a great interpretive dancing at dusk video, Adrianne Lenker needs these songs at least as much as you do. Sometimes it seems that all of her tortured beauty will be too much, and despite the constant songs as catharsis, Buck Meek will be the only person to get out of Big Thief alive. --Ancient Champion
We regard Gearbox records as a mark of quality and drummer Graham Costello gets off to a Tangerine Dream start, trundling along, the minimalist repetition builds slowly, and pensively, reminding me of a classic LPs from the ‘70s -- Brian Eno's Music for Airports, Lifts, at the time 'Ambient' music was very much an acquired taste. Slow soft, more on atmosphere than individual dexterity, released at the time of the harsh aggression of sharp edged punk, candy floss pop, and undercurrents of booming artillery of 'metal'. Eudaimonia transforms slowly, barely perceptible into a saxophone driven cool rocking Jazz blow out, power and soaring exuberance, the sounds of pent up frustrations, and subsequent release of energy, loved the change and the soaring final bars of the piece. --Toon Traveler
ARTIST Yoko Miwa
Songs of Joy
Lovely calm conservatory jazz, delightful piano, soft delicate, feather light, slow and atmospheric pictures of late summer skies, golden dappled water, swans floating past pink lilies, a lovely piece of music, expertly played, and combines the cool precise playing of 60’s blue note, blue smoked, whiskey sipped, classy Jazz sounds, straight out of the that ao so special sounds of that jazz school that staddles, classical quartets, cinema minimalism, and modern Jazz, a modern day atmosphere for lovers amd cuddlers, something for these covid days, uplifting, but not euphoric
Wil have a check for gigs and see if they’re in Toon (but sad to say feels like an acquired taste, that’ll be in southern arts festivals. And Northern University Music schools, smooth like a good, fine, mature brandy, I loved it) --Toon Traveler
Ainu Mosir EP
Takeshi Fukunaga's tender new film is a coming of age tale of a young male from The Ainu, the often overlooked indigenous people from the north of Japan.
Claire Jensen's delicate instrumentals possess that rare thing - unobtrusive throughout the film itself, but a delightful separate entity when listened to separately. Her distinct cello styling wraparound the solitary piano on ''Fishing' and create mesmerizing drones on 'Summer' and 'Winter' that are reminiscent of her former collaborators A Winged Victory for the Sullen and Max Richter.
Last year Jensen produced one of Outsideleft's favourite albums, the haunting 'The Experience of Repetition as Death.' Whilst that album often blended her cello with looped sounds and electronic effects, it was the moments of solitary performance that were the most moving. And this is what makes 'Ainu Mosir' such a remarkable work, it is quietly captivating, profound and melancholy. --Jason Lewis
SARAH MARY CHADWICK
Me and Ennui are Friends, Baby
(Ba Da Bing!/Rice is Nice)
In my pandemic panic watching, I’m drawn to the polar regions. Endless white, howling winds, something really bad about to happen or to be revealed to have happened... --Alex V. Cook (Read Alex's full review of Sarah Mary Chadwick's atonishing LP here)
Earth is a Black Hole
An Epitaph press release alluded to the fact that Teenage Wrist was a “shoegaze” band. As much as I dislike the label shoegaze, I love the musiic the genre encapsules so I gave Earth is a Black Hole a hopeful listen. Sadly, Teenage Wrist sounds nothing like a shoegaze band, not even close. My takeaway from Earth is a Black Hole: a real shoegaze band would never call themselves a shoegaze band --Spanish Pantalones
Migration of Silence Into and Out of the Tone World
There’s been a fair amount of chit-chat in the OUTSIDELEFT corridors these past few days about what constitutes daring experimental music in 2021, and some colloquial version thereof. Somehow this week, I think New York’s legendary avante double bassist, William Parker’s 10 album box set, Migration of Silence Into and Out of the Tone World lands with a thump so hefty, the pretenders will take a good look in the mirror and pack up their music stands. No I haven’t listened to it all but on Spotify, Trencadis: Migration of Silence… features 10 essential pieces so mesmerising, so involved and deep that it is impossible to switch off. As great as anything I’ve heard since Mr. Lake took me to see the Harry Partch equipped orchestra at the Festival Hall. I love the part where it sounds like vocalist Raina Sokolov-Gonzalez is journaling on "A Great Day to Be Dead."
Walking down the path is Moses.
Talking to Alice Coltraine and Betty Shabazz.
I love this record. It’s beyond amazing. It’s incredible and should be in every home. --Ancient Champion
Music: Songs from and Inspired by the Motion Picture
Sia's ninth album, Music – Songs from and Inspired by the Motion Picture, was released in connection with the release of the directorial debut of her film, Music. I’m not really bothered with the movie; after Almost Famous, I swore I’d never see another minute of anything featuring Kate Hudson, but I digress. Music doesn’t really do it for me. There’s no depth, no sense of purpose, no hooks! It’s just a hodgepodge of Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, and Carly Rae Jepsen. Listen for it at The Gap. ---Spanish Pantalones
MICHAEL GREGORY JACKSON
Whoever said it was a Welcome from the New York Loft Jazz scene was too bloody right. Recorded live in New York in 1977, with an all-star avant-garde cast of players, Michael Gregory Jackson’s Frequency Equilibrium is bright, challenging, and exploding with life. The percussion underpins everything, and the bass pounds, but it's the Sax that drives the music. It’s a challenge, that's true, and if you want swaying tunes - this may not be for you. But if you love music with a drone undertone, if you want music exploding with power, passion and ideas, then this is for you. No less than the legendary Bill Frisell said the first time he heard Michael Gregory Jackson, “It was startling. A revelation.” And forty years later, no less so. I regularly attend the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, and this sits alongside these players, by far the best piece of music I’ve been handed to review for Outsideleft. --Toon Traveler
BLACK COUNTRY NEW ROAD
For The First Time
Jason Lewis says the debut album from this Black Country New Roads is a triumph. Like a perfect photograph of a sunrise, you feel that, if captured a moment sooner or later, the light would be less dazzling. The record races to a dizzying climax. Read Jason’s full review here --Jason Lewis
Nothing says running the game like having the best producer moniker in hip-hop. Given the donut imagery, you would be correct in assuming the presence of the late greats J Dilla and MF DOOM here, but BoomBaptist has an irresistible flow under whatever experimentalism he employs. “We are in this muthafucka! I am in this muthafucka” seems a basic statement rapped over the joy beat of “McNasty in Brazil” but damn if we/I ain’t? Fun as hell. Here he is performing from inside an virtual NBA JAM arcade machine, because he is in that muthafucka. --Alex V. Cook
On Earth, and in Heaven
I hate that I don’t totally hate this album. It has a few sexy grooves, and if you don’t know a Thicke is singing, some of the songs such as “Hola” aren’t half bad, but you can probably chalk it up to smooth production. Still, On Earth, and in Heaven doesn’t add up to much more than generic r&b for people who can’t be bothered to search for old Jimmy Ruffin or Bobby Womack albums. “The Things You Do To Me” is a jam, though. --Spanish Pantalones
Slow Crush’s Aurora arrived with a wow!, but maybe not in such a positive sense. I always try to strip away the sound system, or listen at home with a few mates. Slow Crush specialize in a one paced music, no real start or end, a mishmash of sound, reminding me of bands like the Cocteau Twins, not in a good way, and some of the second-rate chill-out sounds, (but not quite chilled enough). Can't help feeling people may judge the song by the video and that's not the point for me, look, you know I am not usually one for negative reviews, but this one is almost there, and there is just the smidgen of something missing, and perhaps that's what most annoying. --Toon Traveler
SUCH SMALL HANDS
Such Small Hands’ captivating songs and nakedly involving lyrics on the debut LP, Carousel, have made them a favorite for listening in the dark hours. Melanie Howard’s vocal inflections imbue the songs with such intimacy, like whisper of trouble ahead and you might need to know. Melanie also paints the cover art, like Jesus Rafael Soto or someone just like that, it’s kinetic and it moves all the time. --Ancient Champion
(See our feature with Such Small Hands here)
Assume The Position
From the album Now this is cool, traditional, piano, and drums, could have been recorded anytime in the early '60s '70s '80s. Delightful well put together piano, and the drumming is amazing, great runs, and fills and really does fill the spaces in the music, BUT BUT lets the piano come through, the sense of careful thoughtful and interplay is there, really loved this, a great piece of jazz --Toon Traveler
WHAT'S ON THE OUTSIDELEFT OFFICE TURNTABLE THIS WEEK
Twenty tunes that were on heavy rotation this week on OL's community record player.