Is it really payola if we alert record labels, publicists, and other music minions to our newly minted 'Single of the Week' award? Imagine the profile boost when you stamp Outsideleft Single of the Week imprimatur on your plethora of marketing materials. Music industry types, we love and salute your amazing endeavors.
The tragic Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice has inspired some ambitious songs by some of music's more poetic performers: Scott Walker, Nick Cave, David Sylvian, and Arcade Fire.
Add to that list Katherine Priddy, whose new single 'Eurydice', takes that journey from the underworld as a metaphor for those moments when you no longer know whether a lover is emotionally still present or not. It's a dramatic delivery, Priddy's vocals slowly shift from a restrained whisper at the start to its dramatic peak and then a swift descent into quiet again.
Whereas her previous songs were splendid slices of folk, 'Eurydice' is sonically darker and atmospheric, we enter this tale via washes of backward instrumentation and muffled voices. Priddy has noted Radiohead's mesmerizing 'Nude' as a source of inspiration and, however audacious that may seem, it has resulted in Priddy producing her boldest recording to date.
'Eurydice' is a remarkable record. -- Jason Lewis
(Full Tilt Records)
A wholly exceptional piece of understated swing time from Louisiana's The Rakers. "Every primrose path leads to an aftermath..." It's knowingly, movingly meta. Here is a band that would dig their own grave in a basement and then just walks out of the door. Leaving it there for later. The pedal steel and guitars... The subtlty is epic. Oh man! Read the interview with Lance Porter from the band, here. --Ancient Champion
Andrée X Andrée
'Roll Up, Roll Up...'
Ancient Champion's latest release is a glorious trip to the funfair, albeit one that's been designed by MC Escher. It is a dizzying romp that, just when you think that you can handle the erratic stabs of keyboards, someone starts tapping out a tune on the water pipes. Hold on tight, this is going to be fun.
'Andrée X Andrée' crams a lot of activity into it's minute long duration. As an introduction to the forthcoming album 'Music Inspired By The Museumgoer of Baton Rouge, Louisiana' it's an exciting taster.
Grab yourself a ticket, take your seats, enjoy the ride --Katherine Pargeter
Space and space, we all need two metres of it these days, but listening to this is emotional space, time away, hearts apart, the song high and tense, the spacey backing, captures the sense of desperation at the songs’ heart. The slow, slow finger-popping, the whispered voice, slightly slurred, adds to that sense of desperation, and that feeling of closed in regret, and love in a hard time, capturing all that sense of asking "do I know my lover". Listening to people, friends, friends of friends, there seems to be these doubts, closeness and being closed in must lead to a lot of these thoughts. There is a theme, as lockdown paroles into freedom, and the feelings expressed here will give solace to some, inspiration to others, whilst some will suffer as space becomes permanent, and homes become solitary and alone. This song captures some of these thoughts, doubts and uncertainties. Audrey Nuna is singing a song for the heart, from the soul. --Toon Traveller
Last of the Better Days Ahead
Wow! Great finger-picking intro, fast and poppy, does it match the song message, no way! This is fabulous - on the baby boomer doubts, a real cynical attack on the dreams we had now gone, a rejection of consumerism, a song that talks of things lost in youth, material, emotional, political, one line talks about swapping stuff, for emotions. It’s a sense of 'fake' failure, false regrets, and there's a sense of something wrong, and holding onto youths memories, and the listlessness that some seem to feel, in its own way a conservative song that wants to hold on to a part, that in reality never existed. For me, this is the romantic cynicism that some baby boomers parade as they come to terms with an old age that they down want to accept. For me this is looking back with - what regrets, with a sense of loss, who knows? These seem like a 55yr old's rebel yell in the setting sun of the silver surfer, snowbird lifestyles, a sense that you've lost the trappings of youth, but is it? In reality, life changes, and the song is "loss" driven, but there's more to be remembered and treasured, in our hearts. This is a song for people who think they've lost a lot, but discount what they’ve gained, this song is romantic in its loss, but really, sadly, this is a song of the resentful lonely, a record of an America that's long gone, black and white images, post-Presley, pre-Springsteen, it's songs of America gone but remembered selectively, this song feel pre Civil Rights pre Rolling Stones, pre-Walmart, post Kennedy, when hope was faltering for some in the USA. --Toon Traveller
Mina Tindle, is the project of Parisian singer/songwriter Pauline De Lassus.
'Indigo' is from her EP The LFO/Blogothèque Sessions. Pauline’s voice rises and falls with a sharpness slicing through the sleepy eyes, slowly waking old aged tired mind, full of tenderness, love, and regret, her voice pensive. This is the voice Adel wishes she had for all those minor paeans to love, yes love gone in this song and it's cold out there in the world, but the memories evoked, are enough to keep the warm hope aglow.
Here is love, and here is regret, at the slow breakdown, that's coming like a sunrise, there's a recognition of carelessness from both, but not the recriminatory bitterness that dominates too many lovers' partings. There is a quiet blame, with that much passion how can there not be blame? But it's sanguine, a sense of graciousness. As the pain was worth the love, worth the tender touches and more importantly worth the way her lover changed the singers soul. A real song of love gone, heart chipped, but soul grown, and realizing you have your heart open and trust the next lover if you are to love. --Toon Traveller
Bobby Gillespie & Jehnny Beth
Chase It Down
The video for 'Chase it Down' is a black and white affair, set in a vacant apartment with high ceilings where Jehnny once again shows her utter commitment to the role of fronting pop music and Bobby mainly looks embarrassed. At some point, promotional films will just wilt and die and lipsyncing will return to mirrors and weird cable TV competitions, with any luck. The music is, of course, retro to the max, with someone thinking that marrying ‘the Scream's chunky old funk-rock thing with a nod towards Serge Gainsbourg would make a perfect fit for the brand and so it does, with Bob’s singing occasionally wavering into quite lovely phrases (cue drunk man’s beer glass looking for his mouth metaphor) and Jehnny managing a convincing performance about something important to do with relationships (I think) on what approximates the chorus, although she’ll never join the Ladybirds. The jolly little Wah Wah guitar solo sums up the obviousness of the track. There was a time when ‘authentic’ wildness was hard to find but now they teach it at BIMM, what’s the point? Hip Showaddywaddy, par for the course. And, yes, I did have to look up the spelling. And, no, I don’t know what it means (Show – waddy? What?) --Gracey Babs
What’s up with Universal records, why aren’t they making Ray Blk work harder? Her new record, 'Dark Skinned' is just the prettiest, de loveliest De La Soul loop infected, infectious piece of kitchen sink soul. Delivered with such effortless grace, preoccupied with minutiae of family relationships and uplift. Songs about moms get me so bad. --Lee Paul
Young Dumb Crazy
(Body of Work)
Love, heartbreak, and extreme voice processing are not bounded by sexuality. Everyone suffers. This is a review more of the video than of the single. What does that mean for pop music criticism? Ian Curtis indelibly linked with his Vox guitar and a dirty old warehouse in Manchester as much as his Iggy Sinatra singing? Elvis reduced to that stiff-legged pantomime jailbird in a stripy shirt? He was always forward, was Elvis. Here we have a young man able to snuggle his own shoulder whilst in the shower and further showcasing his suppleness as he sits smoking a filter-tipped cigarette (can’t believe kids still think there’s something cool about the greatest marketing scam of the 20th century, barring bombs and bullets) in front of a telly that flits between standard Saturday night variety and a Scandinavian boy band (or two? Or was it just a change of outfits?) which all seems to bring to mind the person he’s sing/warbling about in a sort of foggy nostalgic sexual memory. Was it love? Who cares? The robot heads off into the robotic gospel jazz stratosphere for a lovely phrase before once more telling us how he can’t believe himself. I don’t believe him, either. A perfectly able young man who can speak and is no madder than any of us but is definitely young and for that, he is forgiven. --Gracey Babs
Sittin’ On Top Of The World
(Rack'em Records/Thirty Tigers)
Obviously, when the Flatlanders get a record together, we’re gonna have to take a moment. Butch Hancock, Joe Ely, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore are amongst the few genuine country giants stalking the earth and this comes from a forthcoming LP, 'Treasure of Love'. So tho’ country no’ usually my thing, but this bounces along in a narrative, about a walked out love, he's guy working, and living his life, he knows she's gone, and he's come to terms with it. At first, you think he's recovering and on the hunt for a new love, but the song and pace change and he claims he's got lots of lovers in a lie, and "now she's gone and I'm sitting on top of the world". But, like a lot of country music, is it a truth, a lie, a dream. There's none of the self-pitying, bar stool sitting, two finger whiskey sippin', long gone woman moaning. This is an antidote to all that, and the playing is great, fast, furious, and celebratory of the words and feel of the song, which frequently serves as a set closer for the band. a great that transcends cultural taste and that makes it work. --Toon Traveller
Wow-what a lovely intro, splashes of Sade, but a much more earthy deep soul groove amazing underplayed tight as lycra horns, and soft jabs from the keys, her voice ranging across the song, a slinky panther, moving to the thyme, her voice slipping into some magical scat and avant-garde vocals out the music and yet a perfect counterpoise to the music, she soars above the song and yet is embedded within, the singer's voice funky and classical, stuttered words, and the hints of pain, almost sounded like improvised jazz, there's a lot in here. music for the 5.00 slot un a summer festival. for the Hip soul gig, jazz for people who don't like jazz, soul for the head and the heart, shuffles for snuggles, and hugs and lovers, it's even good at the end of the night, maybe after a soon to be reactivated club night, this needs more exposure, more downloads, cd sales and gig booking. help them get there. --Toon Traveller
I’m in Heaven
A disappointing single from Andrew W.K. Known for brash and loud party anthems, which were always gloriously dumb, fun, and full of cum, his latest single for his forthcoming LP ('God is Partying', September 10) is a mundane derivative European nu-metal loop with no real beginning or end. It’s just one long chorus and bridge with very little substance. This song only gives the “Andrew W.K. is a corporate-manufactured clone” conspiracy fresh legitimacy. --Spanish Pantalones
I’m still not sure I’m used to vulnerable Liz Phair. For most, if not all of her first three LPs ('...Guyville', 'Whip-Smart', and 'Whitechocolate'), Phair was pretty sure of herself. Youth and critical praise will do that to artists. Then she released her eponymous LP with help from the production team The Matrix (Avril Lavigne, Britney Spears, Hilary Duff), and things started getting weird. Phair gradually went from a brash go-getter to a heartbroken divorcée and the music started to reflect that, “In There” being the most blatant example as of late. There’s nothing wrong with 'In There' (or the other two lead-off singles from Phair’s forthcoming LP, Soberish, June 4), but it doesn’t reinvent the jilted love song either. --Spanish Pantalones
Playing With Fire
Chalk Neil Finn up as another one of those people who actually accomplished their creative endeavors during the dog days of Quarantine 2020. After 10 years of solo freedom, Finn reformed Crowded House last year and recorded Dreamers Are Waiting (June 4), releasing 'Playing With Fire' as the LP’s third single. The bouncy single is lush without being overproduced, catchy, and naturally about struggling through a pandemic. The beginning of the end of mankind has never sounded so grand. --Alarcon
Worry With You
(Mom + Pop Music)
I was not expecting such a light and breezy Sleater-Kinney this time out. 'Worry With You,' the lead single off the band’s forthcoming LP ('Path of Wellness', June 11) sounds carefree and melodic; summery with tones of latter-day Luscious Jackson. It’s not the tone you’d expect from post-punks that have leaned heavily on sharp, jagged riffs and loud bursts of buzzy distortion in the past. But this song makes it evident as to why Janet Weiss recently left the band. (Weiss said that S-K was taking a "new direction" which prompted her split.) “Worry With You” is a nice change of gears though; as relatively light as their "new direction'' may sound, the tune still has teeth. --Alarcon
This posthumous banger opens with 'The King and Eye' so old school it guests DMC on it. The late DOOM’s way with a sample, the sample-within-the-sample, is a perfect match for the Wu-Voltron CZARFACE’s verbal barrage. This record is cast as an update on the old dub “vs.” records down to the comic book cover but also in its cosmic vibe. The beat in 'Czarwyn’s Theory of People Getting Loose' momentarily gets away from them, beaming out like Aquaman calling a whale in SuperFriends. 'Mando Calrissian' reminds me of a sci-fied up Geto Boys reminiscence jam. The titles are excellent: 'DOOM Unto Others', 'Jason & the Czargonauts.' These two are masters of the subverted hip-hop persona, wearers of masks that reveal their true selves. It is a shame that MF didn’t make it to play Dr. Doom in a Spider Man movie or, better, a Sat morning cartoon on Dinsey+. Dr. Doom’s Play Lab. I know the record is slipping away in this review, but such is the way of DOOM. He lifts you up out of the boom bap of life into the advanced production technique of the possible. --Alex V. Cook
STEVE VON TILL
A Deep Voiceless Wilderness
Steve Van Zant this ain't, no guitar clash, no stadium rocking, fist-pumping action here, this music to calm a restless soul, south aching feet, slowly fill a depleted soul, slow and calming, early music echo's, and the slow layering of sounds, synths drift in steam bursts, hisses, and fizzes, but the serene sense of calm pervades, the quiet still of the pre-dawn, when the dreams are fading, hopes are rising, and reality is spreading, this really is the days start, hesitant hopes and dreams,
yeah for some it'll be this, or that, but for me, it's a leaf floating in sunbathed water, lovely to look at, but no different to all the other leaves. like a lot of the ambient sounds, it's slow, pensive, and sad to say soulless, there's no story, like the air around you it's there, - if you love ambient music you may like this, if you've not listened - there's better around, I was disappointed, it drifts, but with no, no, no, sense of narrative. --Toon Traveller
Slowly: Song For Keith Jarrett
Tribute albums are always a challenge, there are so many ways to pay tribute, if your tribute is to a pop band, with songs people recognise, it's a lot easier, you can copy the song, but give different twist.
Keith Jarret worked in Jazz since 60's recording on Miles Davis’ classic works, recording in 70's hard edged Jazz, the ice kool cold sounds of ECM, where Keith and Trios recorded many tributes to the Jazz greats on ECM wit a range of shimmering brilliant players. BUT it's for his solo improvisational players that his fame and fan adulation rest on. These are true records of his supreme skills in improvisational piano works, an amazing display of ideas, dexterity, melody and composition. This is really is imprecision and knocks all those guitar solos in rock songs into a cocked hat. That presents a problem, how do you play tribute to an improviser, you as some "tribute" players do, play note for note copies of his greatest improvised albums, for me that defeats the creative art, so does this sound like it could be Keith, yeah there are echoes of Keith's soul in this, there is a sense his melodic heart, but is it a tribute, perhaps, does it give a sense of Keith, yes it does, is it a 'good' tribute, hmm that's hard, is a delightful slice of piano music, yes it is, it's light, it's melodic, but there's non of the chord repetition as Keith waits for. seeks inspiration, and the piece soars again, so it's tribute in melody, but you can you "repeat" note for note an improvisation as a tribute, hmm that's a philosophical problem, that said it's a delightful slice of music. --Toon Traveller
This one’s been on heavy rotation ever since last week. 'Blood', Juliana Hatfield’s 26th LP (if you count the Blake Babies, Some Girls, etc.) is another 2021 release that was written and produced during last year’s quarantine. Good for her. How many of us said we were going to finish that book or start that line of hand-crafted ashtrays only to use 2020 to rewatch The Sopranos? Not Hatfield, 'Blood' is fun and peppy (and sometimes restrained) with an underlying current of misanthropic lyrics. Ten summer-friendly, hummable, toe-tappers with soft bursts of Mellotrons and Hammond organs -- it’s a Best of 2021 contender, for sure. --Alarcon
Fat Pop (Vol. 1)
I’m glad I’m wrong. In a February 28 review of Paul Weller’s lead-off single for 'Fat Pop (Vol. 1)' ('Cosmic Fringes,'), I stated that if that song represented what Weller’s new album was going to sound like, maybe Weller has moved on to electro-pop or Italo-disco. It wasn’t a good sign considering it was the album's lead-off single, but I’m relieved to report that Weller’s 16th LP is not a disco record or an experimental electronic club album. Recorded during the 2020 lockdown (another quarantine album), Fat Pop (Vol. 1) is full of soul, R&B, and pop with the lightest of touches. Weller says that Fat Pop is a collection of tracks that could work as standalone singles, which accounts for it’s piece-meal feel, but I’ll take a disjointed Paul Weller LP every time. --Alarcon
Without knowing anything about her, I’d bet that Annie Clark was a theatre kid in high school. --Spanish Pantalones
Years in Marble
A French soft-spoken singer and guitarist of the whirlwind fingerpicking variety, Raoul Vignal delivers a warm and personal LP of lush melancholy, the kind that might be too busy for the coffee shop, too 'there' for your crystal/incense stand but will positively bathe your apartment in a magic hour glow in the hour your ennui requires it. You will delight in telling someone that no (chuckle) it isn’t Nick Drake, but I see where you might get that. --Alex V. Cook
Bright Green Field
Squid have washed up into the public consciousness. Erin goes deep to see why and discovers an exhilarating album that is a heavily cathartic response to the restraints of the world that the band inhabit... Full review here --Erin
My bandmate is infatuated with this record, so I figure I’d better get into it, should he want to pull us in this direction. Turns out, I’d be cool with it. It’s like indie rock except people who are not broody white dudes may actually like it. Scintillating lights do battle with upbeat rock grooves in the way you might be reticent to admit makes the War on Drugs so good. Add to that: riffs! Actual guitar riffs. It’s like if the National’s Celexa kicked in. If Thom Yorke took up longboarding late in life and made the best TikTok music with his bros. If you detect a little U2 in their genome, don’t fret. It’s the strand from when U2 was awesome. People would be more into us if we sounded like this. --Alex V. Cook
Main Image: Katherine Priddy video screen grab
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