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Outsideleft Week in Music We're hearing from... Morrissey, Amy Winehouse, Don Cherry, Bungle, Blondie, Prince, Mariah The Scientist, Sun Ra, Armonica, King Tubby, Leon Bridges, Joy Crookes, Diana Ross, Nle Choppa, Rico Nasty, Kamasi Washington, David Bowie, Library Tapes, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, La Luz, Hamish Hawk, Goo Goo Dolls, Piroshka and Pageants

Outsideleft Week in Music

We're hearing from... Morrissey, Amy Winehouse, Don Cherry, Bungle, Blondie, Prince, Mariah The Scientist, Sun Ra, Armonica, King Tubby, Leon Bridges, Joy Crookes, Diana Ross, Nle Choppa, Rico Nasty, Kamasi Washington, David Bowie, Library Tapes, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, La Luz, Hamish Hawk, Goo Goo Dolls, Piroshka and Pageants

by Alarcon, Founder / Managing Editor
first published: June, 2021
A slow summer jam contender - The Pageants

More provocative record reviews from some of your favourite OUTSIDELEFT scribes (and some of the ones you hate as well). Considering the mighty OL has never opted for a comments forum, we’ll just assume you love all of this week’s informative perspectives on this week’s new offering of pop music. Consider yourself thanked for the compliment. Now one with the reviews… --Alarcon

RECORDING OF THE WEEK

PAGEANTS
Just tell me
(Bandcamp)
A slow summer jam contender, for sure. Light, airy, buzzy, and mellow -- just like a June Sunday afternoon in Long Beach, California where this dynamic duo (Lisa Coleman and Devin O’Brien) live and love. Check out their entire catalog -- it’s as good as Just Tell Me.' --Alarcon


SINGLES

PIROSHKA
V.O.
(Bella Union)
Gritty, funky, effects-drench pop mastery from my favorite relics of the first shoegaze movement of the mid-’90s. While everything Piroshka has released since they formed a few years ago has been splendid and sometimes great (and I've enjoyed it all), but I hope “V.O.” is a firm step in whatever direction they’re going in. --Alarcon 


GOO GOO DOLLS
Nothing Can Change You
(Warner Bros.)
Sounds like a Dinosaur Jr. song with less distortion. I’m not sure what that says for the Goo Goo Dolls or J. Mascis, but it ain't good for either of ‘em. -Spanish Pantalones


HAMISH HAWK
New Rhododendrons
(Assai Recordings)
Watching the video for 'Caterpillars', one of three singles from Edinburgh singer Hamish Hawk’s latest album Heavy Elevator, it would be easy to compare his voice and physical style to David Byrne, however, his tortured vocal and brooding lyrics bring darker new-wave to mind, perhaps Echo and the Bunnymen is a closer comparison, evocative lines such as 'A half-moon blew holes, Spun me out of control' are mixed with a dark humour: 'A town called misery, no-one seems to live here 'cept me obviously'. The latest single 'New Rhododendrons' - which joins 'Do The Strand' in the shortlist of "best song to include the word Rhododendron" - aims for aching grandeur as he describes his struggle to keep things going, to keep the flowers alive, but always allows that puckish humour to creep in: "I'm having trouble with the angles, hope you brought your theodolite". If you are a fan of emotive lyricism and storytelling mixed with arch humour (for example Eugene McGuinness, Neil Hannon) you will be very much at home here. The new album is described by Hawk as “the feeling that you’re sinking”, but I find listening to him quite euphoric. Highly recommended: the album is released in September. --John Robinson


LA LUZ
In the Country
(Hardly Art)
Sexy surf rock from my favorite trio from Seattle, Washington, 'In the Country' has all the elements of a La Luz song: twangy surf guitars, rumbling rockabilly undertones, and Shana Cleveland’s trancey vocals. This one has something extra though and I can’t put my finger on it -- the kids would call it a vibe. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but it’s definitely my new favorite Luzer song. --Alarcon


SLOWHAND & VAN - ERIC CLAPTON & VAN MORRISON
The Rebels
(EPC Enterprises LLP).
When I guide visitors around Birmingham's Rock and Pop landmarks ('...that was once a cafe that was mentioned in a Dexys song, that was once the nightclub that Duran Duran first played live at...' etc.), I also have to point out the Birmingham Odeon where, at a gig in August 1976, a 'tired and emotional' Eric Clapton inadvertently sparked the whole Rock Against Racism movement after he shared some of his to pro-Enoch Powell thoughts with his (one imagines), exclusively white audience.

Thus, I'm incapable of saying anything positive about any project the blues thief is involved in. This means that you may not believe me when I tell you that this record is the epitome of reactionary vileness. Maybe if I tell you that it's recorded with that irascible old fool Van Morrison (whose last album could easily have been called 'Bring Back National Service, the World's Gone Soft'), you'll believe me. Van's mithering about 'where have all the rebels gone?' is embarrassing. The animated video of the history of rock 'n' roll rebels seems to imply that the crusade died in the mid-nineties and that its leaders were predominantly white and male. Make of that what you will. --Jay Lewis


LIBRARY TAPES
Arrival
(1631 Recordings AB)
Library Tapes is the project of Swedish composer and pianist David Wenngren and, by my estimation, 'Arrival' is his/their tenth single of 2021. Each of these has been a brief and meditative piece of piano music, minimal and miniature (nothing lasts over three minutes), nothing outstays its welcome. Imagine Nils Frahm or Peter Broderick (both of whom Wenngren has worked with), at their tenderest solo moments and you're close to what Library Tape's are about.

The picture on the front sleeve of 'Arrival' appears to show an ultrasound scan and maybe, just maybe, the dampened piano sound that underscores this piece is meant to resemble a baby's heartbeat. Maybe this is music for a special arrival. Maybe not. It's whatever you want it to be after all.

For those wishing to explore David Wenngren's musical world, 'Arrival' is a fine place to start. --Jay Lewis


DAVID BOWIE
Young Americans
(Parlophone)
Taken from the acclaimed 'I’m Only Dancing (The Soul Tour ’74)' - where Bowie ditched a six-ton stage set and debuted 'Young Americans' and the songs that would feature in what he almost certainly never called his plastic soul era. For once Bowie got the balance of musicians right. It's as idle as it is risible to diminish the work of a band featuring Luther Vandross, Earl Slick, Carlos Alomar, Mike Garson, David Sanborn, and Emir Kassan. Their performances light years away from what had previously sufficed. Deftly melding his rock and hippie histrionics with the sweet sounds of Philadelphia, maybe 'Young Americans' was the moment where he put it all together and forgives no one but the kids. But I read and watched Underground Railroad, and I wonder whether 'Young Americans' have been forgiven too much. --Lee Paul


KAMASI WASHINGTON
Sun Kissed Child
(Hollywood)
Kamasi Washington’s 'Sun Kissed Child' is taken from the EP, 'Liberated', the third in a series of EP’s accompanying ESPN’s The Undefeated. Mesmerizing and epically melodic. --Lee Paul


NLE CHOPPA featuring RICO NASTY
Speed It Up
(Universal)
Rico Nasty somehow it seems somedays is like single-handedly rescuing rap. That’s not true so don’t even ask. But there’s a lot to love about this pop-rap tie- in to an emotional tour de force that will be 'Fast and Furious 9: The Fast Saga'. I’m going to go and fill my driving gloves with manuka honey lotion. Better to be ready. What would you do? --Lee Paul


DIANA ROSS
Thank You
(Decca)
First single from the first new LP in 15 years and gotta say, I don’t know which middle managers could work with Diana Ross these days and make a good fist of it. Can you even imagine? 'Let’s get Glasper in on piano...' goes the debate. Let’s put Harry Kane upfront even if he hasn’t scored in two years. Troy Miller took charge, but this still amazingly has the sound of many many safe pairs of hands all around. Let’s see, some 70s references, cadences. You know, this sounds like Diana reigned in, not coming out, not good enough for her because since she is Diana after all, she is better than all the rest. And while this is easy to enjoy, Diana is way better than this. But wait… Now that I’ve played it ten times, I can’t resist it anyhow. Especially superb video. --Ancient Champion


JOY CROOKES
Feet Don’t Fail Me Now
(Insanity Records)
Joy Crookes, well, I think I listen to her records more than most because I just love pop music, don’t you? Feet Don’t Fail Me Now is very now pop - the sound of young London I maybe’s think. I don’t actually know since at this point my London is limited to pondering a season ticket, for only £225 to the Kiyan Prince stadium. It's Father's Day family, come through! Joy Crookes evokes for sure, this is an epic soulful pop piece for sure and a little too familiar for some for sure. Pop full of promise though. I love the ending, the vocal, uhuhuhuhuhuh. There is nothing wrong here. --Lee Paul


LEON BRIDGES
Why Don’t You Touch Me
(Sony)
“I’ve been feeling too undesired...” Leon starts, fantastically it could be imagined, over a series of delightful slightly off kilter notes that had me thinking Buck Meek had crept into the studio somehow. Well, Leon, this is all a surprisingly premature welcome for you to the world of middle aged men. --Ancient Champion


KING TUBBY MEETS THE RING CRAFT POSSE
Summer Dub
(Patate Records)
Summer Dub is sort of, much of, Summer Time, without blethering on about it. A lead vocal by Cornell Campbell. Taken from the LP, King Tubby Meets The Ring Craft Posse (Vol 2 Look What You Dubbin’) released by the fab French Patate Records. It is just so amazing oh man it makes me want to get back on the sauce and get gently pickled on my reclaimed, recovered, recycled by me Bognor beach rescue deckchair in the back garden in the heatwave. The lawn is not so lush as this LP it’ll have to be said. So, when! When will it be ready, that I can ascend that deckchair throne, head gardener? Like the entirety of the album, just Brrrrrilliant!  --Ancient Champion


SUN RA (ARMONICA REMIX)
Door of the Cosmos
(MoBlack)
Afrofuturism revisited, and pretty pleasantly so. Oh my, this week is all about records I want to play too loudly in the afternoon in the garden while getting soaked.  Italian production duo Armonica still points the controls to the heart of the sun, where else? While reinventing the Door of the Cosmos. A space odyssey now underpinned by an ever prescent insistent propulsion. June Tyson’s vocals intact still, still knocking at the Door. This is 7 minutes of your life where you will love to live with yourself. --Ancient Champion


MARIAH THE SCIENTIST
2 You
(RCA)
Look, she’s called Mariah The Scientist and that would probably be enough for me, just that. Happily, Mariah the Scientist produces, with a very composed alacrity some of the most unimpeachable pop you’ll hear this week. What's in a name? Everything. --Ancient Champion


EPs

BLONDIE
The Tide Is High - Live from Havana
(BMG)
There’s something perfect about Blondie in their heyday playing at your wedding. The bride and the groom both wanting to go home with Debby Harry more than anything, whilst making some life-draining vows they wrote together a couple of years earlier when they meant something. The Tide is High is super cool in that way, segueing midway into Groove is in the Heart. Lapsing into controlled chaos from the band and brass section. An inspired Paragons cover from the start. From an EP that also features an extended Rapture. Extended Rapture for the band. --Ancient Champion


LPs

PRINCE
The Truth
(Legacy)
More minor work from mid-’90s Prince when he was floating around Minnesota without a rudder; confused and chasing that elusive 'Purple Rain' fame.  Why the Prince estate decided to release 'The Truth' for Record Store Day 2021 when there’s so much more interesting music in Paisley Park’s vault is a mystery. In short, and to keep it within my signature 100-words-or-less review, The Truth is boring. It’s not experimental, it takes no chances (unless you think the dolphin noises in 'Animal Kingdom' are inventive), and it's regressive. --Alarcon


BUNGLE
The Night They Came Home
(Ipecac)
You can tell Mike Patton is the type of guy who pats himself on the back every morning after he gets out of bed. --Spanish Pantalones


DON CHERRY
Summer House Sessions
(Blank Form Editions)
Blank Forms is the non-profit that recently published the beautiful, magnificent, and hefty Don and Moki Cherry art, work, life photography book. Summer House Sessions LP and on the CD additionally the rehearsals for the Summer House Sessions is sonically astonishing, be in no doubt. The tapes for the album were recently rediscovered at the Swedish Jazz Archive. The original recording in July 68, was made by Göran Freese at his summer house and features Bernt Rosengren (tenor saxophone, flutes, clarinet), Tommy Koverhult (tenor saxophone, flutes), Leif Wennerström (drums), and Torbjörn Hultcrantz (bass), all from Don’s Swedish group; Jacques Thollot (drums) and Kent Carter (bass) from his newly formed international band New York Total Music Company; Bülent AteÅŸ (hand drum, drums), who was visiting from Turkey; and Don (pocket trumpet, flutes, percussion) himself. --Ancient Champion


COMPILATIONS & REISSUES

AMY WINEHOUSE
Remixes
(Republic)
Still too soon and all these bullshit remixes do is ruin perfectly perfect songs from one of England’s sweetest singers. If you have to listen to this, the Ghostface mix of “You Know I'm No Good” is fair, but that’s it. --Spanish Pantalones


MORRISSEY
Bona Drag
(HMV)
A completely unnecessary special HMV Centenary Editions commemorative reissue of a lovely collection of odds and ends from Morrissey at one of his peaks. Who knows how these things happen. One minute Morrissey’s mocking them in 'Paint a Vulgar Picture,' twenty-five years later, he becomes one of them. I’m chalking it up to bad business sense on Moz and Marr. You’ll have to know someone 'in the know' to get this transparent-green vinyl -- they’re only making 750 of ‘em. After that, collectors will have to pay premium dollar for them online. --Spanish Pantalones


Essential Info
Main Info: Pageants by Alex Naud

Alarcon
Founder / Managing Editor

Alarcon co-founded outsideleft with lamontpaul (the Tony Wilson to his Rob Gretton) in 2004. His work for OL has attracted the attention of hundreds of thousands of readers, oh and probably the FBI, too.


about Alarcon »»

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A slow summer jam contender - The Pageants

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