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Outsideleft Week in Music We're hearing from black midi, Berlin Banter, Los Retros, Benny the Butcher & Harry Fraud, Michael Beach, Amiture, Lana Del Ray, Snoop Dogg, Blanketman, Laura Mvula, Abdullah Ibrahim and many more...

Outsideleft Week in Music

We're hearing from black midi, Berlin Banter, Los Retros, Benny the Butcher & Harry Fraud, Michael Beach, Amiture, Lana Del Ray, Snoop Dogg, Blanketman, Laura Mvula, Abdullah Ibrahim and many more...

by Hamilton High,
first published: March, 2021

approximate reading time: minutes

black midi... There's also Nina McNeely's disorientating video which, I can guarantee you, will astound you.

Our week in music blasts the big names and the next generation of big names, with a special shout out to Cassis B Staudt and Berlin Banter for taking on and reinventing Depeche Mode's Dangerous and making a right good fist of it!


black midi
John L 
(Rough Trade)
Let’s face it, 'I told you I loved you in front of black midi' has to be one of the more troubling lyrics on the new Black Country New Road' album. It begs the question: At what point during an agitated performance by the genre mangling, Avant-Garde, disturbing noise-makers, would it be appropriate to declare your true affection to someone? And, furthermore, just how loud would you have to shout?

Anyone thinking of talking over the comeback single by black midi will have even greater trouble. 'John L' is a frantic cacophony, a relentless Trout Mask wearing Schizoid Man racing at a worryingly fast pace for five minutes. It's everything you didn't know that you needed to hear. Then there's the monologue ('... this garbling non-song whips the crowd into frenzy'), which is both sinister and comic in its Fall-speak brilliance. There's also Nina McNeely’s disorientating video which, I can guarantee you, will astound you.

black midi's second album 'Cavalcade' is released on 28 May --Jason Lewis

Berlin Banter's slow-burning and sensual rendition of 'Dangerous' should be towards the top of any serious list of great Depeche Mode covers. As a point of reference, I would happily place it somewhere between Johnny Cash's boldly acoustic 'Personal Jesus' and Sylvain Chauveau's gorgeously melancholic 'Stripped'.

The elegant vocals on 'Dangerous' are delivered by Cassis B Staudt, the Berlin (obviously), dwelling composer and musician whose CV includes work with Swans, Herbie Flowers, Tom Waits, and Iggy Pop. She has, much like Messrs Cash and Chauveau, removed layers of sound to reveal a startlingly different song to the one that we thought we knew. 'Dangerous' is reborn as a modern day torch song, it's rather spectacular! --Jason Lewis

It’s Got To Be You
(Stones Throw)
We’re big fans of Stones Throw Records Los Retros. It’s Got To Be You gets off to a great dreamy start, redolent of Rex Orange County or Paul Weller in his jazzy soft ballad days. Love the dippy keyboards, of course, and the sense of a long lazy sunny summer to come, summer love in the park hand in hand, blowing dandelion heads, shared cokes, and ahhh... A tender romantic summer soundtrack for summer lovers, and summer love dreamers. --Toon Traveler

When Tony Met Sosa
(Griselda Records)
Benny the Butcher’s hazy sample-ridden “When Tony Met Sosa” (great title) won’t be the top summer jam of 2021 -- the tempo is just a tad too slow -- but it’s absolutely a top ten contender. Benny weaves jazz and mellow breakbeats with crisp lyrics the struggle, the competition, and the ongoing hustle. “When Tony Met Sosa” is also the lead track on Benny’s new project (The Plugs I Met 2) with Harry Fraud. Could be the sleeper single of the season. --Alarcon

(The Reverberation Appreciation Society)
What to say… Radiowaveband sweeps intro, scanning, and searching and they end up with this, 70's pop doom rock, some Hawkwind synths, found in a skip, old early Pink Floyd drums, refinished. If you want early 70's retro this for you. On the other hand, ask your favourite uncle he may have some of the original vinyl used to inspire this lot hidden in the attic. -- Oh there is a touch of Inspiral Carpets, that said and despite the retro feel, if they were to play at a local festival, I'd probably shuffle my feet out of the beer tent and swing a Zimmer frame, but only on a sunny day, mind. --Toon Traveler

I’m Made
I'm made is swirling, full- voiced, with great incessant Guitar and a slow sweeping rhyme Love the two-chord underpinning, could be straight otta English 80's post miserabilist music. It could be Stones Roses, slow post-60s feel, a dash of the Doors their most druggie meets the Cure, and the Banshees at their most desperate and lonely, drops of feedback, the faraway, another time, a different day vocal. The slow drip, drip, drip, repeated and echoed in distant voices, music, ally floating echoing on lonely streets, the faded end, a wonderful mouth organ, sad and happy, melancholic and celebratory an end that's worth the wait, it stays in the memory as a reflective end to a great piece of wet weather rock - will have to check for tour dates in the UK. --Toon Traveler

(Dry Bridge Records)
Love this. From a forthcoming full length, I can’t wait to hear. From the intro featuring Cass’s great bass and then Preminger’s sax lead… furtive, flighty, rapid, and incessant. It's the way it grabs your attention and draws you into urbanity at sunset. The horns echo a pulsing city, a soundtrack for night living, living that's been on hold for the year. Think mad march hare in Alice in Wonderland, confusion, but with clarity, inspired, and insightful, I loved it. --Toon Traveler

The advert for Jet 2 Holidays in many ways a great apt into Girl In Red’s Serotonin song
for this song, the voice and words carry the song or they don't love her voice soars condor on a thermal
song is really two 
a song and a poetry recitation and two themes, 
songs of fear for self, of herself, and the effects on others
anger at where she is, perhaps at impulse, at her dark thoughts
this is a song of depression and it's struggles, 
perhaps one of the best comments on the COVID year we've all been through --Toon Traveler

National Trust
Talking Heads meets the Psychedelic Furs with a Devo backing, sets the scene, the cheapo early 80s tinny keyboards add to the feel. A slice of 80's alt-rock revisited and rejuvenated with twinkle and verve, the voice knowing and confident and teasing. Have they been listening or does the singer come from the same Manchester Neighborhood as Pete Shelley. Overall harmless, hopeful, heard it all before, rock. --Toon Traveler

Church Girl
Laura Mvula rocks. Might surprise you. Funk rocks. Big Bottom. Bright top. Cranks up the machines and does as I think I overheard her saying, channels her inner Prince. And it is all to great effect. Church Girl has the feeling of one of the more timeless 80s pop monsters updated and imbued with the studio chops, scope, and imagination of a British David Longstreth. Joyous. Effortlessly cool. --Lee Paul

He’s back for sure, but I can’t recall a time in the past 30 years or something when he was away. Pretty straight-ahead, beautifully bottom-heavy riff, and swooping synths. And all the more perfect for that. Leisurely brilliant. This I guess are and Laura Mvula are the records I’ve listened to over and over and get more out of each time. And of course, no matter what else it has, it has Snoops timbre. It’s still really something. --Lee Paul

(Run For Cover)
Priceless from 'Throne of Ivory (Singles & B-sides)', out April 23rd, starts with soft distant vocals, like a tinny transistor radio, ask your grandparents, great wah wah or some or other effect guitar helps, but not really enough to differentiate this in my memory. There’s a mild sense of post-industry, simple piano, spat contemptuous vocals, resentment, and bittersweet sounds. Whether you wait for it or not, the feedback at the end is the best bit of the record... --Toon Traveler

Free Mind
(12 Hours)
Francoise Hardy’s muse, 60s icon, Jacques Dutronc’s Free Mind is a great wordless ambient piano ballad. The ambience does sound like it’s constantly generated by the traffic below as someone opens and closes a hotel window high above Montmartre during the recording session. Although it could equally be on Corsica near Jacques place. That ambience though, less essential I think, unlike the piano piece. --Hamilton High



Did You Hear That Sound (live)
South Africa’s Mozart (Nelson Mandella said that) the magnificent Abdulla Ibrahim, or Dollar Brand; one musician, two careers, his romantic solo piano work, and his township jazz. The latter an absolute treat for your feet. Did You Hear That Sound, a solo piano piece, is soft and waving, steeped in romantic memories, sunrises, on his homeland South African Veldt, golden-orange light, animals rising with the dawn, light and shadows. On this piano, memories float, and swim, this music captures those memories, through the music Abdullah share's his memories, his tentative hopes and his sad losses in these and other years. Not maudlin, not depressed, but a song of hope and delight in lost souls and how their touch will be missed. --Toon Traveler

(Dots per inch)
Jack Whitescarver grew up in the American South before diving into New York, and his music shows an appreciation of space as well as time, specifically nightclubs of the 80s. His crooning voice will bring to mind any number of genre legends from Sylvian to Mackenzie during this track alone. The video has Jack digging through the ground like a techno mole - nostalgically filtered like a Front 242 video from 1988 with a similar thumping beat - as he ruminates on the nature of the “operator”: the animus that moves all our actions, the god that speaks to us through our phone. The operator, in fact. Album “The Beach” will further satiate your desire for an imagined 80s teen movie soundtrack. To be clear, I like this very much, in doses, at least. The full album does start to feel like having a pancake layer of New Romantic make-up applied after a while. --John Robinson



Chemtrails over the Country Club
I get what Lana Del Rey bases her career on. She’s a dim, Juvederm-injected, Lolita-esque “chanteuse” with paper-thin vocals that barely register on microphones; a meek, wounded-bird who sings in Instagram platitudes for people who go to Coachella dressed like well-heeled bohemians. Although I’ve never listened to a Del Rey album, I feel like I have after struggling through the breathy desperateness of Chemtrails over the Country Club. Do yourself a favor, skip this horseshit and pick up Hope Sandoval’s Under the Hunter or Julee Cruise’s The Voice of Love. With all that money her daddy spent on buying her a music career, you’d think he could have found a better rocknroll svengali. --Spanish Pantalones

(Milan Records)
This put me to sleep, but it could just be my Lorazepam. --Alarcon

Dream Violence
(Goner Records)
Damn! This record is so good. See Alex’s full review here. --Alex V Cook

Numbers Maker
Numbers Makers is a fine and righteous and heavy noise from guitarist, Nick Millevoi, bass player Johnny DeBlase, and drummer Jason Nazary. Recorded live in front of a studio audience in New Haven the record gets an official release late April, but hear the opening track, Albion now on Bandcamp --Ancient Champion


For Emma
From ages ago, if you need to know. Incomparably cool Justin Vernon goes back to his old school on youtube and records a version of For Emma. This of course is still so dynamically beautiful after all of these years and should be sought out. Real Horns. --Ancient Champion

Voyage - A Journey Into Discoid Funk (Expanded Edition)
(Cherry Red)
Brian Bennett, former drummer from the Shadows (England’s answer to the Ventures/Cliff Richards’ backing band), slipped into hyperdrive in 1978 to help invent space disco with this crate digger special, lovingly expanded with outtakes and working mixes. Who needs working mixes of songs you’ve never heard? Would you peer into an alchemist’s oven as he turned lead into gold? Don’t lie. -Alex V. Cook

Hamilton High

Hamilton High was born on Doheny Ave in the gutter, is a poet, writer and observer of popular culture. Likes fashion and cares less for style. He's on the move, he's an alter ego and we hardly ever hear from him.
about Hamilton High »»



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