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Outsideleft Week in Music We're hearing from Sons of Kemet, Snapped Ankles, Herp Albert, Joe Strummer, Working Men's Club, Esther Rose, The Joy Formidable, Wavves, Lil Nas X, Dinosaur Jr., Sean Grant, Elvis Costello and more...

Outsideleft Week in Music

We're hearing from Sons of Kemet, Snapped Ankles, Herp Albert, Joe Strummer, Working Men's Club, Esther Rose, The Joy Formidable, Wavves, Lil Nas X, Dinosaur Jr., Sean Grant, Elvis Costello and more...

by Lee Paul,
first published: April, 2021
We're hearing from Sons of Kemet, Snapped Ankles, Herp Albert, Joe Strummer, Working Men's Club, Esther Rose, The Joy Formidable, Wavves, Lil Nas X, Dinosaur Jr., Sean Grant, Elvis Costello and more...

SINGLES 

SONS OF KEMET
Hustle ft. Kojey Radical
(Impulse! Records)
Starting with a booming bass line courtesy of Theon Cross' tuba, and vocals, courtesy of MOBO nominated rapper/spoken word artist/visual director Kajey Radical initially it reminds me more of a Bug/King Midas Sound record, before the drums of Tom Skinner and Eddie Hicks enter the fray followed by Shabaka Hutchings lead with a flute riff. It gallops along at a fair old rate with rate until it breaks down into a lovely coda involving Cross and Hutchings playing off each other. Maybe more subdued than previous SofK tunes but it bodes well for their forthcoming album Black to the Planet due out in May. I can't flipping wait! The video featuring the beautiful dancing of the Jaly Twins is quite a treat too --DJ Fuzzyfelt


HERB ALPERT
Zoo Train 21
(Herb Alpert Presents)
This song is so wondrously uncool! Herb is popping off like he’s done for a thousand years, a cosmic happy trumpet, too square for jazz, too hooty for pop, too present for Muzak. You might exit a pricy sunglasses store if this came on for disrupting your manicured norm, but you will join the conga line of the infinite by doing so. Herb Alpert has been kicking that ‘70s game show theme style long before the 1970s and will likely be doing so in the 2070s. -- Alex V. Cook


SNAPPED ANKLES
Rhythm is Our Business
(The Leaf Label)
In the frankly stultifying world of business speak, I would like to nominate the word ‘Cascade’ as the one most likely offend and make me want to choke.  Maybe it’s the idea that a tender word that would previously be used to evoke something of beauty  (a gently, cascading waterfall for instance) had now been mangled so much that you can now ‘…cascade to your team that you can no longer print in colour on the office photocopier.’ I think that Snapped Ankles probably share my anguish, the dread word appears twice in the crazed satire of ‘Rhythm is our Business’ – which sees the band still masked in foliage, channelling Fad Gadget at their most manic  and satirising the modern world (‘I’m an industrialist, really? … I’m a gangster, really?).’   Remember, this is the band who were inspired to write ‘Tailpipe’ by one of Bill Hick’s anti marketing rants.  The splendidly titled third album ‘Forest of Your Problems’ is released on 2 July. --Jason Lewis


THE JOY FORMIDABLE
Into The Blue
(streaming)
Hmmm... What to say about The Joy Formidable - another one of those songs with fey, weak back of the mix vocals, a slight touch of the pensive, anxious vocal, touch of angst, hint of innocence, and the music plodding, laborious and dull. Seems to be nothing original at all going on in the vocals, no passion, no expression and no real response from me I am washed over, like a rainy Manchester, grey damp and an excuse to stay at home. If you're USA Stateside,  Manchester is the Seattle of England, the "Rainy City". Into the Blue is inoffensive, but I wouldn't get wet to see them live.  --Toon Traveler


WAVVES
Sinking Feeling
(Fat Possum)
It’s a shame Wavves lead singer Nathan Williams looks like he’s trying to conjure up that late-’90s Dave Navarro-meets-Mike Ness look because his band’s latest single, “Sinking Feeling” sounds nothing like the visage he’s going for. “Sinking Feeling” is a breezy and light, yet substantial piece of dazzling pop that only an indie band from Southern California could produce. The song, Williams says, is “about a wave of depression that keeps coming back. It’s that sinking feeling that drags you down and no matter what you do or where you go it follows you." That would explain the sleeves of tattoos. --Alarcon


LIL NAS X
Montero (Call Me By Your Name)
(Columbia)
Can someone explain to me why this Lil Nas X song is causing such a commotion? Is it the video? It has to be the video because the song is bland as fuck. My guess is that “Montero” would’ve gone unnoticed, but Lil Nas was smart enough to pair it with a video that got under the skin of the hardcore conservative right. In it, Nas is seen in various mythical, religious, and historical settings, including one scene where he grinds on Satan’s lap before murdering him in grand fashion. That video is all it took for Christians to take to social media, claiming sacrilege and devil worship. Everyone else claimed it as a brave expression of homosexuality. And that, dear OL readers is Marketing 101 -- today’s musicians don’t have to be good, they just have to upset the conservatives. --Spanish Pantalones


DINOSAUR JR.
Garden
(Jagjaguwar)
Dinosaur Jr’s LP Sweep It Into Space, arrives on April 23rd on Jagjaguwar. The album’s second single, 'Garden', has been written by Lou Barlow, he takes the lead voca and is also responsible for the video. Snowy. Dippy. Somedays Dinosaur Jr and Teenage Fanclub seem interchangeable. Wasn’t it always so? --Ancient Champion


SEAN GRANT & THE WOLF GANG
Bodies Of Christ
(streaming)
From the forthcoming album, 33, Bodies of Christ features a great intro, very other world, very old world, sorta cross of the minimalist, miserabilist Manchester 80's post industrial beats, and drums. The voices low in the mix, hinting at pain and suffering, the fade at the end, heavy freight trains rata, rata, rata of steel wheels on steel rail joints, the speed of travel, anxious, and hopeful. Driving rhythms, clatter and clash, the impression one of slow pensive decline, a soundtrack for industrial decline in Northern England, all the lost metal bashing, smoke stacked, closed and gone memories held in buildings that are now apartments, call centers, and on-line warehouses. They’re supporting the mental health charity CALM. There are hints here of promise to come. --Toon Traveler


ILLUMINATION ROAD
The Modern World
(Topanga Canyon Records)
Radio fiddling, sampling, opening, like Dexys did, good effect to get going though. A slow intro, almost anthemic 80's stadium rock, and voices, sounds like Beck at times, no bad thing, slow heavy on the pain of love, and rising tones, could be that they rock like Whitesnake, I don’t know because I don’t know Whitesnake, could be Michael Bolton, Curtis Stiggers, you can hear the bubble perms. You can choke on the dry ice open shirt floating in the winds. Yep, a wanna-be stadium rock band, in an era of empty stadiums. It’s a concept. Good voice, and great diction, and just the right mix of power chords and space in the song to imagine your self seeking solace, revelation or insight  in the Mojave Desert at Sunset, while nursing a fractured ego or rejected heart. --Toon Traveler


WORKING MEN’S CLUB
X
(Heavenly)
Less than six months after the swaggering blasts of post-punk, disco and surreal lyrics of their debut album, Working Men's Club return.  The pounding drums of the introduction to 'X' suggests that nobody here succumbed to lockdown three inertia,  it demands your attention, a preparation to the layers of scratchy Wire-y guitars, trembling bass and Sydney Minsky-Sargeant’s delerious repetitive wordplay. 'X' is feverish and tense. It is Working Men's Club at their jittery and anxious best, perhaps an indication of darker sounds to come. --Jason Lewis


VR SEX
Minor Case
(Dais Records)
VR Sex just announced their forthcoming EP (Cyber Crimes) by unleashing “Minor Case,” a 3-minute and 52-second burst of disturbing, wonderfully bleak electro-pop that makes me feel the same way I felt when I first heard Marc Almond slither his way through Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret: filthy and titillated. Noel Skum (Andrew Clinco of Drab Majesty, an incredible band itself) growls through “Minor Case” much like he did in 2019’s Human Traffic Jam; the band’s official press release calls it a conglomeration of “death rock, synth punk, post-punk, ambient, and ethereal soundscapes” and that’s about as close as I could ever get to describing this Los Angeles trio’s sound. The greedy half of me wants VR Sex to stay small and precious and keep them in Los Angeles, but this band deserves Bauhaus levels of adoration and infamy. --Alarcon


EPs  


ELVIS COSTELLO
La Face de Pendule à Coucou
(Concord)
If Elvis Costello’s eccentric and wildly assorted Hey Clockface (released in October 2020) knocked you on your heels, La Face de Pendule à Coucou will make you dizzy with intrigue and bewilderment. La Face is Costello’s new EP featuring French adaptations and remixes of a few of Hey Clockface’s songs, and it sounds nothing like what we’ve all come to expect from him. While the rejiggering of “Hetty O’Hara Confidential” by Parisian Afropunk group Tshegue is a standout, Iggy Pop’s two versions of “No Flag” are absolutely riveting. You won’t find this year’s “ summer jam” on La Face de Pendule à Coucou, but it’s nice to know a 66-year-old rocknroll star can still pleasantly surprise his audience with relevant music. --Alarcon


LPs  

ESTHER ROSE
How Many Times
(Father/Daughter (US) Full Time Hobby (UK))
When we first loved Esther Rose we loved her for her taste in guitars! And her kitchen. That caught our eye. And now the music on her third full length How Many Times, her authentic rinky dink countrified amdrams are of heartache and loss and little victories are Pullitzer prizeworthy on their own for sure. Is it still okay to swoon when a record is as big-giant as this?  -- Ancient Champion


JOE STRUMMER
Assembly
(BMG)
While it’s easy to say Joe Strummer’s best years were in The Clash (during the Mick Jones era), Assembly proves that old Joe could still produce beautiful art without Jones’s editorial sensibilities. Assembly is a compilation of Strummer’s meticulously-curated solo singles, fan favorites, and rarities from his Mescaleros years. There are even a few live Clash chestnuts in there to sooth the pensioning punks. Ultimately, this 16-song LP weaves an even mixture of Strummer’s roots reggae, rockabilly, and quaint Spanish folk music with just a dusting of flamenco, which begs the question, why not two discs? --Alarcon


THE ANTLERS
Green to Gold
(ANTI- / Transgressive)
In the early ‘90s, I dated a cute girl with impeccable taste in music, which in hindsight was one hell of a ruse. Her record collection included rarities and imports from The Smiths, Japan, Nick Heyward, early Pulp, Cabaret Voltaire, Cocteau Twins, and so on. As someone who judges people on their taste in music, I was all in. About six months in, she coerced me into going to church with her; one of those modern born-again Christian churches that feature wall-to-wall carpeting, a lobby coffee bar, a bookstore that sold $50 Bibles, and a live seven-piece band that played bland, downtempo, dreamscape-y pop songs about faith and redemption. The Antlers’ sixth LP, Green to Gold reminds me of that shitty Christian rock band. --Spanish Pantalones


Main Photo: Sons of Kemet by Udoma Janssen (www.udomajanssen.com)

Lee Paul

I like to look at things while listening to things I am not looking at. But doesn't everyone.
about Lee Paul »»

We're hearing from Sons of Kemet, Snapped Ankles, Herp Albert, Joe Strummer, Working Men's Club, Esther Rose, The Joy Formidable, Wavves, Lil Nas X, Dinosaur Jr., Sean Grant, Elvis Costello and more...

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